Operation Juniper Shield
Primary Operating Location: Niamey, Niger
Secondary Operating Location/s: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, various across the Sahel region of Africa
– Special Operations Command Forward – North and West Africa (SOCFWD-NWA)
– Joint Special Operations Aviation Detachment?
Start Date: ? 2013
End Date: Ongoing
Superseded: Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara
Summary: Operation Juniper Shield is the Department of Defense’s contribution to the inter-agency Trans Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP) mission, which focuses on North and West Africa. Operation Juniper Shield activities foster collaboration and communication among participating countries. Furthermore, Operation Juniper Shield strengthens counter-terrorism and border security, promotes democratic governance, reinforces bilateral military ties, and enhances development and institution building. US Africa Command (AFRICOM), through OEF-TS, provides training, equipment, assistance and advice to partner nation armed forces. This increases their capacity and capability to deny safe haven to terrorists and ultimately defeat violent extremist organizations in the region.
At some point in 2013, Operation Juniper Shield became the official nickname used for both the overarching campaign plan against the Al Qaeda network and other terrorist organizations in North and West Africa and operational activities in support of that campaign plan. Operation Juniper Shield had started in late 2012 or early 2013 as simply a term for the operational side, while the campaign plan continued to be referred to as Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara (OEF-TS). While it was reported in January 2013 that OEF-TS had been renamed Operation Juniper Shield, this does not appear to have been the case initially. The operations were regularly referenced together, including using the joined acronym OEF-TS/OJS. However, the OEF-TS did appear to formally end and the nickname was generally dropped. The assigned special operations task force was also renamed Joint Special Operations Task Force – Juniper Shield (JSOTF-JS). However, as late as February 2014, one could still find references to both operations.
In addition, in mid-2013 there appears to have been a change in the nomenclature for the special operations task force affiliated with this mission. The 2014 Special Operations Command Fact Book lists the task force as “Special Operations Command Forward-West (Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara),” but other sources indicate that it should in fact be “Special Operations Command Forward – West Africa,” which is also abbreviated SOCFWD-WA. This change appears to be part of a plan to streamline the nomenclature for Special Operations Command Africa’s (SOCAFRICA) task forces on the continent as a whole.
Around the same time, the center of gravity for the mission shifted from Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou to Niamey, the capital of Niger. Niger offered a significantly more strategic position in between Libya, Mali, and Nigeria. The operation continued to operate a variety of sites across North and West Africa, though.
By 2016, the special operations task force nomenclature had changed again to properly reflect this shift in mission, with the unit becoming Special Operations Command Forward – North and West Africa (SOCFWD-NWA).
For additional information, visit GlobalSecurity.org