Eight African defense attachés and embassy personnel with security portfolios heard firsthand on Dec. 6 how the Africa Center for Strategic Studies can be an important resource for them, as well as their ambassadors, during their tours of duty in Washington, D.C. On the opening day of the weeklong African Defense Attachés Seminar, Africa Center Director Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.) welcomed the participants and wished them success.
Ambassador Bellamy discussed some of the current security challenges on the African continent. He also spoke about how U.S. interests vis-à-vis the continent continue to evolve and he noted with concern the way that changes in the U.S. media landscape—particularly the growing fragmentation of the news industry—impact the formulation of U.S. foreign policy.
Seminar participants include representatives from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Mauritius, Morocco, and Togo.
Most of the participants hold security-related portfolios at their embassies in Washington. The annual seminar, held on the campus of the National Defense University, acquaints newly-assigned African defense attachés and embassy personnel with the structures and workings of the U.S. Government and its security policies and programs pertaining to Africa.
Africa Center Associate Dean John F. Kelly, PhD, presented an overview of Center’s mission, goals, vision, and academic and outreach programs.
Later in the afternoon, participants listened to a presentation by Richard Downie, Deputy Director and Fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Africa program.
Mr. Downie outlined U.S. priority interests, policies, and programs in Africa and he underlined the growing strategic relevance of the continent, saying: “Africa has become more important to the U.S. in recent years. Improving governance and fostering strong institutions in Africa is the number one objective of the U.S. on the African continent.”
Seminar participants will meet later in the week with U.S. government officials from the State Department and the Department of Defense, including U.S. Africa Command. They will also engage in discussions about the roles of the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and the news media in shaping the formulation of U.S. foreign policy.