The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) conducted closing ceremonies of its Senior Leader Seminar on June 29, 2012, at the Crystal City DoubleTree Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.
One of the Africa Center’s flagship programs, the two-week seminar provided a forum for approximately 70 senior-level military officers and civilian officials from Africa, the United States, and Europe, as well as representatives from international and regional organizations, to review and analyze the evolving African security environment and to discuss strategies for addressing challenges and enhancing Africa’s security.
Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.), the Africa Center’s director, praised the participants for their hard work during the two-week seminar.
“I hope that the time you have spent with us has been worthwhile,” he said. “I know that we’ve learned a great deal by listening to you. You have inspired us.”
Bellamy also said he hoped the two-week seminar has provided an opportunity to the participants to form long lasting relations.
Dr. Assis Malaquias, ACSS’s academic lead for the seminar also thanked the participants for their commitment and hard work. He recalled the goals of the seminar set forth two weeks ago:
- Discuss the key security challenges facing the continent, from both African and U.S. perspectives, with a view to achieving a better alignment of US and African priorities;
- Critically and comprehensively explore the nature and scope of the security issues confronting African states, taking into account both human and traditional security concerns;
- Define concrete responses to the security challenges confronting African states by taking advantage of the wealth of experience from the participants – many of whom have already confronted and, in some cases, overcome important challenges of their own, and
- Provide an opportunity for senior African security sector leaders to expand their professional network.
“We have met and in many cases, surpassed the goals of the seminar,” Malaquias said, “[and] we owe it to [you].”
Malaquias echoed Bellamy’s wish that all participants build upon their experience by maintaining long and fruitful partnerships – which he said could be an invaluable tool throughout their careers — and to sharing best practices about security sector challenges in Africa.
Brad Minnick, ACSS director of communications and community affairs, opened the final day with a discussion on how participants can stay in touch with other ACSS community members and chapter groups around the world.
“ACSS community chapters are there to help nurture the relations you have formed here,” he said. “[However,] community chapters are not ACSS’s own. They are yours.”
Minnick said Africa Center community chapters also provide a way for former ACSS participants to interact with U.S. Embassies, Africa Center leadership, and U.S. Africa Command representatives, especially when they are visiting a country.
“The goal [of having a community chapter] is to enhance your relations with U.S. government officials when they are in your country,” he said. “It is also a means to stay in touch with your colleagues around the world.”
The Senior Leaders Seminar ran June 18-29. One of the Africa Center’s flagship programs, the seminar has been held since the Africa Center was established in 1999. This year, Amanda J. Dory, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs, gave the keynote address at the opening ceremony. Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Dr. Reuben Brigety II, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional Security Affairs; General Carter F. Ham, Commander of U.S. Africa Command; and the Honorable Brownie Samukai, Minister of Defense for Liberia, also spoke to seminar participants.