WASHINGTON — The head of US Africa Command expects to see a funding increase in fiscal year 2017, at a time when Africa is increasingly important to counter terrorist operations.

Asked if he expected AFRICOM's budget to increase in fiscal year 2017, Gen. David Rodriguez, who has led the command since April of 2013, said "yeah."

"And we got some increases this past year and we have some increases this year to do those things," Rodriguez said. "The capacity building is really the main effort to what we do because it's really the long-term solution and we have some pretty good success stories."

Specifically asked if he expected part of that funding increase to focus on training and growing local leadership, Rodriguez responded in the affirmative.

Rodriguez's comments, made Nov. 20 at a Defense Writer's Group event, came as a terrorist group took hostages at a hotel in Mali. The situation underlined AFRICOM's role as a train-and-equip organization for African nations, particularly on the counterterrorism front.

Asked what kind of equipment African nations have asked him for, Rodriguez joked that "they ask for everything that's in the news about fancy equipment that works," before noting that the "major thing they want and need" is more training.

"For their militaries and for their institutions, some of the things that are most important are their abilities to grow and develop leaders, and select the right people and build those kind of systems that help sustain their effort for the long term," Rodriguez said.

Other areas that African leaders have asked for include command and control, communications, intelligence, logistics and mobility. He also identified "specialty skills" such as countering improvised explosive devices.

Rodriguez also indicated that while there is still a shortage of available ISR assets, the situation has improved from earlier in the year.

Email: amehta@defensenews.com

Twitter: @AaronMehta

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

More In Defense News