April 2011

  • New CJTF-HOA Commander, RADM Franken at ACSS for Briefing

    Franken2Click here to view photos from this event. ACSS welcomed Rear Admiral Michael T. Franken recently as he prepares to assume his new duties as CJTF-HOA Commander. ACSS Deputy Director Michael Garrison, briefed Admiral Franken on the Center’s work with an in-depth look at priority programs, including transnational threats, the upcoming African Executive Dialog and Introduction to African Security Issues Seminars. The Admiral showed his appreciation for the complexities of the Center’s work and engaged Deputy Garrison and other senior ACSS staff present for the briefing on the many challenges facing his areas of responsibilities. Admiral Franken most recently served as Vice Director, Strategy, Plans, and Policy (J5) U.S. Central Command where he was responsible for regional security engagement, planning efforts, and future force posturing . He was active in transitioning the U.S. military effort in Iraq to the U.S. State Department, in the buildup of forces in Afghanistan, and supporting operations in Pakistan. Deputy Garrison discussed many of the challenges facing ACSS in developing and implementing programs to support the United States policy African affairs goals. ACSS looks forward to working with Rear Admiral Franken and the CJTF-HOA staff in the coming year.
  • Urban Fragility and Security in Africa

    nigeria_violence_2011The Africa Center recently released its latest Africa Security Brief, "Urban Fragility and Security in Africa", by Dr. Stephen Commins. Estimates are that more than half of all Africans will live in cities by 2025. This rapid pace of urbanization is creating a new locus of fragility in many African states--as evidenced by the burgeoning slums around many of the continent's urban areas—and the accompanying rise in violence, organized crime, and the potential for instability. These evolving threats, in turn, have profound implications for Africa’s security sector. Dr. Commins is a Lecturer in the Department of Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Affairs.
  • Africa Center Welcomes Ghana’s Chief of the Defense Staff

    ltg blay Click here to view photos from this event. The Africa Center welcomed to its offices April 1 Lieutenant General Peter Blay, Chief of the Defense Staff, The Republic of Ghana. General Blay and members of his delegation came to the Africa Center at National Defense University (NDU) in Washington, D.C., to meet with its faculty and staff, discuss regional and sub-regional issues, and explore how they could cooperate in the future on African security issues. While in Washington, General Blay also conferred with NDU officials and then traveled to the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, where he was inducted into its International Fellows Hall of Frame. Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.), Africa Center Director, welcomed and held an office call with General Blay. Professor Dr. Mathurin C. Houngnikpo, Academic Chair of Civil-Military Relations, joined them.
  • Renovation of Africa Center’s Historic Grant Hall Continues

    5589126015_4f09d81d91The year 2011 marks the sesquicentennial of the start of the American Civil War (1861-1865). So it is especially fitting that the Africa Center’s Grant Hall, with its singular history, is undergoing a top to bottom renovation and a reconstruction on the third floor. Grant Hall, built in 1831, was home to the Africa Center’s resource management directorate before the construction work began in 2010 and is scheduled to reopen later this year. Staff members who work on the lower floors will have newly renovated office spaces that will retain such period details as original oak interior doors that are hung with ornate brass hinges. A few fortunate staffers will have offices with original marble mantelpieces, though the fireplaces will not function. Historically, the most interesting part of Grant Hall is the top floor; it was once the women’s workroom when Grant Hall was part of the federal prison that no longer exists. The third floor is being reconstructed to the configuration at the time of the 1865 trial of the seven men and one woman charged in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. A drawing from an 1865 issue of Harper’s Weekly (see image on attached Flickr gallery) makes the trial room appear larger than any of the rooms currently on the third floor. The drawing shows more than 50 people in the room including the defendants. However, in the nearly 150 years since the trial, walls were added to create more rooms as the use of the building changed. Renovation plans call for removal of walls and stairs to reconstruct the space to the dimensions at the time of the trial: 28 feet by 40 feet. Decorative columns will be reinstalled in the trial room. The construction superintendent with Polu Kai Services, which is overseeing the work on Grant Hall, said as his workers tear down walls they often uncover interesting, old building techniques such as wood lathes behind plaster. The $4.6-million restoration is being overseen by Chuck Fanshaw, National Defense University’s Director of Engineering, and Suzanne Hren, an architect at the Directorate of Public Works. Ms. Hren’s specialty is historic restoration. Research on the restoration began in the spring of 2009. Other agencies closely involved in the Grant Hall project are The District of Columbia Historic Preservation Office, The National Capital Planning Commission, and The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. [This story was written by Ms. Frances Hardin, our former colleague and communications specialist with the Africa Center’s public affairs office. Ms. Hardin recently left the Africa Center to take a new position and is serving in Afghanistan.]

    Click here to view more photos

  • Confronting AQIM’s Sahelian Strategy

    aqimThe Africa Center recently released its latest Africa Security Brief, "West Africa's Growing Terrorist Threat: Confronting AQIM's Sahelian Strategy"  by Dr. Modibo Goїta.

    Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has undertaken increasingly frequent and effective attacks in the past year, posing a dangerous and growing threat in Africa's Sahel region. Reversing this trend presents a particularly complex challenge as AQIM has simultaneously strengthened ties to local communities and regional criminal networks. Efforts to counter AQIM will require collaborative region-wide strategies that feature complementary security and development initiatives.

    Dr. Goїta is a Professor at the Alioune Blondin Beye Peacekeeping School in Bamako, Mali, and serves on the Executive Committee of Community Chapter in Mali.

    Click here for PDFs in: [ENGLISH] Cliquez ici pour télécharger le PDF en: [ANGLAIS]

  • Africa Center Loses Colleague and Friend

    MoellerThe Africa Center lost a trusted colleague and good friend March 28 with the passing of Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller, U.S. Navy (ret.). Admiral Mueller had served as a Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at the Africa Center since September 2010 following his retirement from active military duty.

    Prior to joining the Africa Center, Admiral Moeller had a long and distinguished career in the U.S. Navy. He served as the Deputy Commander for Military Operations, U.S. Africa Command, from August 2007 to April 2010. In the fall of 2006, Admiral Moeller was selected to be the Director of the U.S. Africa Command Transition Team which developed the plans to establish the Department of Defense’s newest Geographic Combatant Command.

    Admiral Moeller also served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans, Policy and Training (N3N5N7) and as Director for Operations (J3), Joint Task Force (JTF) – 519 for the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, from May 2001 through August 2003. He served as Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group 1/Commander, Ronald Reagan Strike Group, from August 2003 through August 2004. The Admiral served as the Director, Strategy, Plans and Policy (J5) and as Special Assistant to the Commander, U.S. Central Command, from August 2004 through August 2007.

    Admiral Moeller was a 1974 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and held a masters degree in National Security Studies from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

  • Next Generation of African Security Sector Leaders Graduate

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    Click here to view video of this event


    After four weeks of rigorous classroom and field studies work, 40 officers representing 25 African nations graduated March 25 from the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ 2011 Next Generation of African Security Sector Leaders Course at the Sheraton Hotel Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia.

    Conducted in English and French, the course provided the participants--mid-level African officers, mostly majors and lieutenant colonels in the army, police, and gendarmerie—with practical and effective tools upon which they could draw to contribute to the enhancement of their nations’ security and development. The officers deepened their knowledge about professionalism, ethics, and leadership in the security sector.


    With rounds of applause from their classmates and the audience, Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.), Africa Center Director; John Kelly, Ph.D., Associate Dean; and Professor Mathurin C. Houngnikpo, Academic Chair of Civil-Military Relations and faculty lead for the course, presented graduation certificates the officers.

    The course featured lectures by experts in the military, security, government, and civil society sectors. There were extensive reading assignments, homework, and writing a comprehensive paper that the officers then defended orally in small group sessions.

    Participants went on trips to and met with senior officials at the Pentagon, U.S. Department of State, Congress, the Supreme Court, Gettysburg National Military Park, the Army War College, and the United Nations. There were also relationship-building daily meals and coffee breaks among participants and attended by facilitators and guests.

    In his remarks, Ambassador Bellamy said: “Congratulations to all of you. You have worked hard these past four weeks. You have traveled widely these past four weeks. Hopefully, you have gained insights. You have gained some knowledge.  You have gained some ideas that you can take back and apply when you return to your professions in your home countries.

    “I hope, too, that all of you in this Next Generation of Africa Leaders Seminar have formed bonds with your fellow participants and with others here; with our facilitators, with our presenters, and with our ACSS staff. Bonds that will endure well into the future.

    “If you walk away from this seminar with nothing else, I would hope you will have at least gained a much sharper appreciation of the challenges that our governments and our nations face, and of the fact that those challenges are very rarely ones we can address successfully by acting alone.

    “International cooperation is vital. International cooperation is essential. And unless we as nations work together and succeed together, we are condemned to struggle and to fail acting alone.”

    Professor Houngnikpo said: “Leadership has been the missing link, so we looked at the role of leadership throughout the course. We worked to convey the principle that security leaders must serve the people of their nation and be faithful to their country’s constitution.”

    Following the ceremony, participants stressed that they looked forward to using the principles they learned in the course once they returned home. An officer remarked, “The most important principle I am taking out of this is the primacy of the rule of law and a sharper understanding that militaries don’t just serve governments but the nation’s peoples in the broadest sense.”

    With the word “transformative” repeated by several officers, one said: “The important key for me was understanding the scope of the challenge for all of us and our citizens in transforming the way things are done so our countries will be better. Now I know not only the importance of thinking and planning ahead, but also different means to accomplish and implement effective plans.”

    Another participants pointed out: “I am leaving this place with more knowledge which gives me a chance to share all I’ve learned with my colleagues back home. I have been exposed to a better way of doing my work and that even in my mid-level position as a leader I am in a position of influencing and transforming change.”

  • U.S. Embassy in Malawi and Africa Center Assist U.S. Army Civil Affairs Unit

    A team from the U.S. Army's 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion visited the Malawi community March 17 to discuss its civil affairs mission and program objectives in Malawi, which include populace and resource control, foreign humanitarian assistance, civil information management, nation assistance, and support to civil administration.

    Emily Renard, community affairs specialist at the Africa Center, said the meeting was supported by the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe, which also sees great value in forming a community chapter there. The event was held in the Embassy’s public affairs auditorium, with Embassy staff also using the meeting as a venue to discuss forming a chapter.


    According to Captain Jacob Ashby, Commander, A Company, 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion, based in Mattydale, New York, “The presentation went very well. I think we've made some great contacts thanks to you (U.S. Embassy and Africa Center)."

    Captain Jacob Ashby, Commander, A Company, 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion, center, with Africa Center community members Brigadier General Paul Velentino Phiri, left, and Brigadier General Dr. Alfred Chitsa Banda. General Phiri attended the Africa Center’s Senior Leaders Seminar in 2008, and General Banda was a participant in its Health and Security Program in 2009.