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NEWS | April 20, 2023

North Dakota Army Guard Partners with Togo, Benin to Counter IEDs

By Lt. Col. Mark McEvers, North Dakota Army National Guard

JAMESTOWN, N.D. - Two North Dakota Army National Guard Soldiers traveled to Africa to exchange best practices countering improvised explosive devices with the armed forces of Togo and Benin.

U.S. Army Staff Sgts. Dale Burdette and Alex Radi of the Jamestown-based 817th Engineer Company (Sapper), participated in a counter-improvised explosive device knowledge exchange with the Togolese Armed Forces in the Republic of Togo Feb. 6-10. The country is experiencing increased violent extremism.

The following week, Burdette and Radi trained with the Benin Armed Forces.

The Republic of Benin’s border with Burkina Faso to the north and Nigeria to the east has witnessed increased violent extremism. From December 2021 to September 2022, there were 43 events in Benin involving violent extremist organizations, some employing IEDs as a weapon of terror.

The Benin Armed Forces are working with other Benin federal agencies, including the national police and Department of Emigration and Immigration officers, to conduct security and presence patrols throughout the northern part of the country.

The North Dakota National Guard Soldiers worked with the Benin Soldiers to plan a practical exercise that incorporated counter-IED mission planning during mounted and dismounted patrols.

Benin and Togo have partnered with North Dakota in the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program since 2014.

Radi said this engagement — his first State Partnership Program event — was the most unique he has experienced outside a deployment.

“It was an absolute pleasure working with our partner nations of Togo and Benin on counter-IED awareness and planning,” Radi said. “It was very informative listening to their concerns, experiences on peacekeeping missions, and fielding their questions. It made me think a lot about my deployment to Iraq and the great training I received from the leaders of the 817th Engineer Co. I hope I was able to pass on some of my knowledge to help keep as many of these soldiers in Togo and Benin as safe as possible.”



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