ACSS Welcomes Next Generation of African Security Sector Leaders

By Africa Center for Strategic Studies
Updated: 03/13/2012

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The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) welcomed 42 military officers representing 37 African nations during the opening ceremonies of its Next Generation of African Security Sector Leaders Program on March 12, 2012. ACSS is conducting the three-week program on March 11-30 for some of the continent’s most talented young military leaders.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The course focuses on enhancing professionalism, ethics, and leadership in African militaries. Throughout the program, participants will examine Africa’s contemporary and emerging security threats. They will analyze civil-military relations on the continent to determine the role and place of professional military officers in advancing national security in democratizing states. Attending officers, mostly at the ranks of major and lieutenant colonel, were selected by their countries to take the course because of their significant command experience or staff responsibilities as well as their recognized leadership potential.

Welcome remarks by Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.), Director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies

“This course comes at the right moment,” said ACSS Director Ambassador (ret.) William Bellamy in his opening remarks. “African militaries today face enormous challenges. The continent is still experiencing the aftermath of the Arab Spring, and Sub-Saharan Africa has not been isolated from these events.”

Bellamy said African militaries should never take the place of civilian governments as has happened in several countries. “It is a military duty to ensure respect for your country’s constitution,” he said.

Colonel Emile Ouédraogo, Burkina Faso’s former Minister of Security, spoke during his keynote address about Africa’s security challenges and the importance of senior military leadership in the region. He drew a nexus between security, democracy, leadership, and ethics.

“The legitimacy and operational efficiency of the security forces in a democratic context requires a flawless professionalism,” he said. “In this respect, the professionalism of the next generation of [African] security sector leaders will not be limited only to mastery of weapons and loyalty to a constitutional government. This new professionalism will incorporate into their traditional duties new areas that include non-traditional security aspects such as good governance and human security, and they will have to deal with challenges posed by rapid urbanization and transnational threats.”

Ouédraogo said new security leaders must be loyal to the nation and cultivate a sense of duty, integrity, and selfless service in the face of widespread corruption. He also urged African countries to write and implement a national security strategy. More broadly, Ouédraogo advocated for better working conditions for security personnel and stronger collaboration between different branches of the armed forces as a precondition for them to achieve their mission.

ACSS’s has offered the Next Generation of Security Sector Leaders course at least once a year since 2005.

As a complement to the rigorous classroom work taught by African and U.S. experts, participants will also tour the State Department and U.N. headquarters in New York to learn more about effective civil-military cooperation, good governance, and democratization.