Post-Coup Leader in Burkina Faso Helped Steer U.S. Military Exercises

The post-coup military leader of Burkina Faso steered Burkina Faso's participation in a major U.S. counterterrorism training exercise, according to the Defense Department's Africa Command website.

Post-Coup Leader Participates in U.S. Africa Command's Flintock ExcercisesOn Thursday morning, Burkina Faso security forces led by the Presidential Guard overthrew the interim government in Burkina Faso ahead of elections scheduled for this October. The coup leaders have since named General Gilbert Diendere as the acting leader of the country. Diendere served for three decades as former President Blaise Compaore Chief of Staff. He was also seen as the figure-head commander of the presidential guard despite having retired from the force in 2014.

According to African Intelligence sources, Diendere was also pushing hard for the Presidential Guard (RSP) to survive the upcoming elections, which some Burkina Faso government officials were pushing to scrap or overhaul. In the last few days, the National Reconciliation Committee proposed reforming the 1,200 strong RSP, including potentially by placing RSP soliders into positions within the regular armed foces. The leader of Burkina Faso's Union pour le Progress et le Changement (UPC), Zephirin Diabre, appears to have also supported the reform. 

Based on the U.S. Africa Command's website, Diendere was the president of Burkina Faso's Flintlock 2010 Committee, which is a major U.S.-led military training exercise. Planned by U.S. Special Operations Command-Africa, these excercises seek to "foster regional cooperation" to enable African partners to combat violent extremist organizations. "Exercise Flintlock provides increased interoperability, counterterrorism, and combat skills training while creating a venue for regional engagement...."

This is Burkina Faso's second military coup in less than a year. The first coup was initially led by Lt. Colonel Isaac Zida who had also previously received U.S. military training. The picture below, along with this one, both taken from the U.S. Africa Command website indicate General Diendere's involvement with the U.S. military exercise for at least the one year.