By Vince Crawley
Airport security professionals from across West Africa completed five weeks of aviation security training provided by the Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, in partnership with Embassy Dakar and the government of Senegal, May 16 through June 22. The three courses taught were: Airport Patrol Management Train-the-Trainer; Airport Physical Security Management Train-the-Trainer; and Airport Security Management Train-the-Trainer.
The aviation security training took place at the Regional School of Air Navigation and Management in Senegal’s capital, Dakar. The 24 participants were all aviation security professionals: 11 from Senegal, two each from Côte D’Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Togo, as well as one representative from Cape Verde. Participants also included eight female aviation security officials, a record number for this type of training in Senegal.
“Safe and reliable air transportation keeps our nations connected and plays a crucial role in enabling economic activity,” said then-Chargé d’Affaires Jonathan Fischer to participants and aviation officials during the graduation ceremony, June 22. “Ensuring our international air hubs comply with worldwide aviation standards is critical to global security and development.”
ATA program managers developed the security courses in coordination with the African Union’s African Civil Aviation Commission program, with funding and policy oversight from the Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism, and operations support from the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). The courses also included instruction that meets the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) standards. ATA training is implemented by DSS’ Office of Antiterrorism Assistance, with funding and policy oversight by the Bureau of Counterterrorism.
These train-the-trainer courses will enable the participants to conduct their own security training in their home nations. This, in turn, will help meet an African Union mandate to ensure the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO)—a specialized United Nations agency—standards are implemented across the continent.
The majority of those attending the courses work in countries that host last points of departure (LPDs) airports to the United States. Airports designated as LPDs must meet and maintain specific U.S. and international security standards.
“They are our boots on the ground,” said Lynn Collier, the ATA lead instructor, of the participants. “These are the people making sure procedures are being followed, that ICAO procedures are being followed, that TSA procedures are being followed—[the] regulators within the aviation industry.”
Vince Crawley, a Department of State contractor, is the strategic planning coordinator for the Antiterrorism Assistance Program.