One of Africa’s newest and highest-passenger-capacity airports has added new layers of security thanks to an equipment grant provided through the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) Program. This valuable aviation-security assistance is part of the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund, provided by the Bureau of Counterterrorism with the goal of reducing the ability of terrorist organizations to pass through major ports of entry. The equipment delivery and related training was implemented and managed by the Diplomatic Security Service.
On August 1, 2019, U.S. Ambassador to Senegal Tulinabo Mushingi and Senegalese Tourism and Air Transport Minister Alioune Sarr officially inaugurated new scanning equipment at the passenger checkpoint for outbound flights inside Blaise Diagne International Airport, about 25 miles east of the Senegalese capital of Dakar.
“The type of cooperation we pursue is a win-win partnership. Through TSA inspections and assessments, the U.S government identifies areas of improvement and at the same time offers solutions that work for all of us. These new security screening machines are a testament of this exemplary cooperation,” said Ambassador Mushingi as he addressed guests and the media.
“The United States, through TSA and ATA, is a willing partner with the Senegalese to meet and sustain International Civil Aviation Organization standards and counter the threat of transnational terrorism against commercial aviation,” he said. Speaking in the local Wolof language he added, “United we win.”
Minister Sarr added, “I would like to take this opportunity to warmly congratulate our friends from the United States Embassy who, as they say, do not limit themselves to preserving only their own security but also that of the Senegalese people and all users of our airport.”
The equipment grant, worth more than $800,000, was the latest component of a broader $1.6 million aviation security-enhancement program provided by ATA. This past spring, ATA delivered mentoring and training in airport security management and airport patrol management to civil and law enforcement authorities from the seven agencies responsible for Senegal’s airport and aviation security.
Blaise Diagne International Airport opened in December 2017 with an initial capacity to handle three million passengers per year, but that capacity is expected to rise to 10 million passengers per year, making it one of the highest-capacity airports in Africa. That high capacity, coupled with the fact that Blaise Diagne is the closest airport on the African continent to the Americas, is expected to make the airport a major international transit hub for West Africa.
The enhancement program was not limited to new equipment, but also included training for airport personnel. Conducted in partnership with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the ATA training focused on maintaining and improving the airport’s security in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization and TSA standards.
In two separate 2-week sessions in April, ATA trained 81 participants in airport patrol and security management. Through discussion and exercises, the ATA instructors helped Senegalese aviation officials acquire skills necessary to plan, manage, and supervise effective foot patrols as part of an overall airport security program. The courses also covered current local, regional, and global criminal and terrorist threats to airports/aviation; the collection, analysis, and exploitation of criminal intelligence; task force operations; and, the development and execution of patrol/inspection plans and operations.
The ATA training, mentorship, and equipment have increased Senegalese aviation officials’ awareness of the benefits of alert, efficient management of security resources, as well as the importance of contingency planning for special events, on-going training, and testing of security processes and personnel to maintain proficiency and vigilance. Senegal and travelers through Blaise Diagne International Airport are safer for these efforts.
About the Author: Tom Scarantino is the West Africa Program Manager in the Office of Antiterrorism Assistance in the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service.