February 2011

  • AFRICOM Commander Bids Africa Center Farewell

    GEN Ward Visits ACSS 006In his autobiography My American Journey, retired General Colin Powell wrote: “Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything, either. Theories of management don’t much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.”

    Like General Powell, General William E. (Kip) Ward’s principles of leadership, honed over almost 40 years of military service, have led him to understand the critical role people play in accomplishing the mission. His belief in people generated respect and genuine friendship from the scores of people he came to know from almost the first day he assumed command of U.S. Africa Command on Oct. 1, 2007, especially the faculty and staff at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

    A large gathering of Africa Center personnel were on hand Feb. 18 when General Ward made a special visit to the Center to personally say good-bye and to thank them for their support as he prepares for his change of command ceremony next month.

    He told them how much he “so richly appreciated the relationship, the teamwork, the fact that we have in fact been able to move things ahead in a way that is positive and meaningful. And that has helped to contribute to an environment on the continent of Africa and its island nations that is so much better than it might otherwise have been.”

    Stressing how much he appreciated what the Africa Center faculty and staff have done “to make things happen,” General Ward said: “What we do we do in a way that helps elevate the level of discussion and helps elevate the level of debate about the ideas we can use to make a difference. When we interact with our friends and partners, they know we care about them and respect them. The results are limitless, as long as we remain committed to that.”

    The General said that for the past five years, first as the Deputy Commander of U.S. European Command and then as AFRICOM’s first Commander, he was “committed to moving our relationship in the direction that I know Ambassador (William) Bellamy and all of you wanted us to take—to take on behalf of our friends and partners in ways that contribute to a more stable environment … on behalf of the people of Africa and on behalf of the people of the United States of America.”

    General Ward at the conclusion of his remarks presented to Africa Center Director Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.) a handsome certificate and plaque recognizing the Center for its support to him and AFRICOM.

    Ambassador Bellamy said he was accepting General Ward’s words of praise and his tokens of appreciation on behalf of “this very special group of people—very talented, committed people.”

    The Ambassador told General Ward that “we’re honored that one of your first acts as AFRICOM Commander was to come by the Africa Center and now one of your last acts is to come by and pay us a visit.”

    He said the Africa Center had been “very lucky because we have had you as a steadfast supporter since day one.”

    “As I said to General Ward a moment ago upstairs,” Ambassador Bellamy continued, “when I first got here a couple of years ago, I was making notes about my priorities for the Africa Center as its Director. My top priority was really to solidify the relationship between the Africa Center and this brand new Command. I said to General Ward that turned out to be the easiest of the tasks because we had support from him and from the very top staff and a real commitment in making this relationship work.”

    Ambassador Bellamy added that he was grateful to General Ward because he “got it in terms of what the Africa Center is about, understood what it is we do, the way we do things, our model, and our culture. All of this General Ward understood either instinctively or from previous experience.

    “I’ll say this finally, I think we also owe a debt of gratitude to General Ward. We’ve never had a better friend and stronger supporter.”

    Click here to view more photos from this event


  • Africa Center Community Affairs Completes Successful TOPS

    cameroon_tops Africa Center Community Affairs Specialist Amelia Carvalho headed an ambitious and successful Topical Outreach Program Series (TOPS) trip to Central Africa during January 9-24, 2011. Joining her in Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Gabon were two Africa Center staff, Professor Mathurin Houngnikpo, Academic Chair for Civil-Military Relations, and Colonel Xavier Collignon, Senior French Representative. The team also included Mr. Jeffrey McManus, Policy Director for West and Central Africa, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, International Security Affairs, Africa. TOPS is designed to foster long-term relationships with Africa Center community members—those who have participated in Africa Center-sponsored events—and African leaders by offering focused thematic programs on U.S. policy and contemporary African security challenges. According to Ms. Carvalho, TOPS events held in the region included: strategic planning sessions for community members; topical symposiums for community members and invited guests; special events held at local institutions of interest, such as war colleges; and meetings and events as recommended by U.S. embassies and Africa Center chapter members. “This was the third TOPS trip to Central Africa I’ve managed since coming to the Africa Center,” Ms. Carvalho said, “and it was also probably one of the most successful and memorable in terms of the number of participants and African and U.S. government officials we met, and the degree of dialogue we all shared. This was the first time we’ve had the opportunity to share the TOPS experience with the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Having Mr. McManus on board enriched the level of representation and discursions. Moreover, traveling with our Senior French Representative served as an example of collaboration across continents. “This was also the first time the events followed one overarching theme,” Ms. Carvalho continued. “Professor Houngnikpo, who is highly esteemed by community members in the region, was able to provide a civil-military relations perspective to security challenges in the countries visited. A special highlight, of course, was the launching of our 26th Community Chapter in Gabon.”


    The first stop on the tour was Cameroon where the Community Chapter was launched in 2004 and has 70 community members. The symposium on “Regional Border Security Cooperation and Resource Management in Central Africa” included a total of five briefings and was attended by 170 people, including: Director of the National Gendarmerie H.E. Jean Baptiste Bokam; the Director of the Cameroon Combined Arms War College (CSID) General Esaïe Ngambou; U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon Robert Jackson; and Mr. McManus. A mini-symposium was held at CSID on “Maritime Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.” The event was attended by approximately 100 students and staff from the college and the Center for Strategic Studies and Policy Research at the University of Yaoundé. CSID is jointly managed by Cameroon and France and has 33 students from 20 countries, including France and the U.S. CSID, under the leadership of General Ngambou and his Deputy, French Colonel Hubert Grepin, hosted the event. Presenters included Mr. McManus, who briefed on U.S. policy priorities for Africa; Colonel Xavier Collignon, who presented on the global phenomena of maritime piracy (focusing on the Gulf of Aden); and Commissaire de la Marine Cyrille Serge Atonfack Guemo, who presentedon the challenge the issue poses for Cameroon. Other events organized by the embassy and chapter in Cameroon included:
    • a welcome dinner at the residence of the U.S. Defense Attaché, LTC Scott Morgan, where guests included Cameroon Community Chapter leadership, representatives of the U.S. and French diplomatic corps, and members of the Cameroon Combined Arms War College
    • a luncheon hosted by the Community Chapter leadership
    • an office call with the Cameroon Minister of Defense, H.E. Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo'o; a formal dinner hosted by the Permanent Secretary of Defense, Mr. Hamadou Vindjedou, and
    • a Community Chapter planning meeting
    » Photo gallery: Cameroon

    Republic of the Congo

    While in the Republic of the Congo January 14–17, a TOPS symposium was held on “The Role of the Army in Service to the Nation.” The event attracted the participation of 110 military and civilian nationals, including representatives from civil society organizations. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Murray opened the event with a keynote address on good governance and democracy and the benefits of trust between the people and their government. The event was attended by the Minister of National Defense, Professor Charles Zacharie Bowao, and Chief of Defense Staff General Charles Mondjo. TOPS team members, Mr. McManus and Professor Houngnikpo, conducted two office calls with the Minister of Interior and Decentralization, H.E. Raymond Zéphyrin Mboulou, and the Minister of National Defence, Professor Charles Zacharie Bowao. Other significant events included a reception hosted by Ambassador Murray, which was attended by most of the community members and the Minister of National Defense.

    Democratic Republic of the Congo

    On 18 January the TOPS team crossed the Congo River to Kinshasa to execute the third leg of the TOPS tour. The DRC Community Chapter, was launched in 2008, has worked collaboratively with the Africa Center and the U.S. Embassy to organize annual TOPS events. This year’s symposium was on “The Fight against Corruption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” Minister of Public Service, H.E. Dieudonné Upira Sanguma Kagimbi, presented the keynote address. Also presenting was the Director of the Center for the Observation of Ethical Professional Conduct (OCEP), Dr. St Augustin Mwendambali. The OCEP is a government-supported organization created to fight corruption. The TOPS team took part in a roundtable discussion with the Minister of Public Service and the OCEP. Minister Dieudonné Upira Sanguma Kagimbi presented the national strategy for fighting corruption and was interested in contributions from Professor Houngnikpo and Mr. McManus. The event was recorded and aired on the local evening news. » Photo gallery: Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)


    The Africa Center team traveled on to Gabon, where they helped launch the Africa Center’s 26th Community Chapter. The launch was initiated by the Ministry of Defense and coordinated through the U.S. Embassy Office of Security Cooperation. A launch reception was hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to Gabon, Eric Benjaminson, and was attended by Gabonese Defense Minister, H.E. Ruffin Pacôme Ondzounga, who delivered remarks on Gabon’s ongoing efforts to address maritime security challenges. Africa Center Director Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.), and Africa Center Regional Office Program Manager Mrs. Elisabeth Feleke also attended the launch reception. The local news media covered the event and were particularly interested in how the chapter would work with the government to address maritime security issues in the Gulf of Guinea. Ambassador Bellamy, Colonel Collignon, and local U.S. embassy staff, including Ambassador Benjaminson, held subsequent meetings with representatives of the Economic Community of Central African States and the Central Africa Multinational Forces (FOMAC).
  • Africa Center Finalizing Preparations for Next Generation of African Security Sector Leaders Course

    NextGen004The Africa Center for Strategic Studies is finalizing preparations to host its Next Generation of African Security Sector Leaders Course in Washington, D.C., during Feb. 28-March 25.

    The course will provide the next generation of African security sector leaders with practical and effective tools upon which they can draw to contribute to the enhancement of their nations’ security and development.

    Approximately 40-50 mid-level African officers, mostly majors and lieutenant colonels (army, police, gendarmerie, etc.), are expected to attend the course during which they will deepen their knowledge on professionalism, ethics, and leadership in the security sector.

    Conducted in English, French, and Portuguese, the course will focus on governance, leadership, and ethics in the context of issues relating to civil-military relations, security/terrorism studies, and defense economics.

    Planning for this year’s program began shortly after the conclusion of last year’s course. The faculty reviewed the syllabus taking into account participants’ evaluations and critiques. The program team, composed of faculty and staff from Operations, Resource Management, Community Affairs, and Protocol, continue to meet to insure that the 2011 course content and logistics requirements are addressed.

    Prof. Mathurin C. Houngnikpo, Academic Chair of Civil-Military Relations at the Africa Center and faculty lead for the course, maintains that while African states have since 1990 been democratizing at an unprecedented rate, instability threatens many of them--including some once thought to be stable--and the armed forces have had to respond to a wide range of threats.

    “Strengthened professionalism of security sector professionals can safeguard reforming governments,” Professor Houngnikpo explained. “Conversely, relatively unprofessional armed forces or security sector may undermine stability. This course will seek to address the roles and responsibilities of professional military and other security sector officers in democratic societies, and enhance leadership skills to more effectively address current and emerging security challenges.”

    He said the officers will analyze the policy environment within which African leaders deal with development partners. They will share current concepts and ideas on professionalism, ethics, and leadership, and will examine Africa’s contemporary and emerging security threats. Participants also will explore best ways to enhance relationships between civilians and the security sector in order to advance good governance and democracy on the continent.

    Stressing that a spirit of academic inquiry and debate will guide the course, Professor Houngnikpo said: “The course will follow the Africa Center’s customary format of plenary sessions followed by discussion group sessions. Speakers will frame the key issues and engage participants in a question-and-answer period during the plenary sessions. Plenary sessions will be followed by breakout discussion groups in which participants will have an opportunity to address the issues raised in plenary in more detail and to share experiences.”

    In addition to the plenary and discussion group sessions, participants are expected to travel to and meet with officials at the U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court, Pentagon, Department of State, Army War College, Gettysburg National Military Park, and the United Nations.

  • Rwanda Centre for Strategic Studies Holds Meeting to Discuss Terrorism-Related Issues

    rwanda_chapter-symposiumThe Rwanda Centre for Strategic Studies, one of the Africa Center’s 26 community chapters, held a one-day meeting Feb. 15 to discuss terrorism-related issues and how to deal with threats. [LINK]
  • Africa Center Hosts Incoming U.S. Africa Command Commander

    GEN Ham_WEBThe incoming Commander of the U.S. Africa Command, Gen. Carter F. Ham, U.S. Army, visited the Africa Center for Strategic Studies Feb. 14. Accompanying General Ham was Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, African Affairs. Africa Center Director Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.) and Deputy Director Michael E. Garrison welcomed General Ham and Ambassador Huddleston upon their arrival to Davis Hall, located on the campus of National Defense University in Washington, D.C. General Ham and Ambassador Huddleston held an office call with Ambassador Bellamy. With many Africa Center faculty and staff gathered in the conference room, Ambassador Bellamy and Mr. Garrison then briefed General Ham about the Department of Defense’s regional center enterprise, policy guidance the Africa Center receives, and its academic and community outreach programs. A roundtable discussion about Africa’s emerging security challenges followed with the Africa Center faculty. Click here to view more photos from this event
  • Africa Center Displays Its New Official Colors

    ACSS flagChief Warrant Officer 4 Ron Miller, U.S. Army, Director of Operations for the Africa Center, knew something was amiss when at various programs around the world he would see the display of flags representing U.S. Africa Command, the African Union, and the Economic Community of West African States, just to name a few of the organizations, but not see the Africa Center represented.

    “Every time we would have a program, all the other organizations would have their colors displayed, yet the Africa Center would not be symbolically recognized, even at programs we sponsored,” said Chief Miller.

    Chief Miller subsequently started the process of getting the Africa Center its own colors, which led to the Institute of Heraldry, the agency which oversees the granting of distinguishing colors in the federal government.

    The Institute, a component of the Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, approved the Africa Center’s colors which are now on permanent display in the conference room of its headquarters building on the campus of the National Defense University at Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C. There are three copies of the flag. In addition to the permanent installation, one of the flags will be displayed during programs in which the Africa Center is involved, and the other will travel with the Africa Center Director, Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.), for appropriate ceremonial display.

    “It is gratifying to finally see the Africa Center with its own colors to foster esprit de corps and to symbolize this proud institution,” said Chief Miller.

    The colors are a solid blue (bluebird) with a 2 ½-inch yellow fringe and the Africa Center crest centered.

    United States Army flags traditionally have been used for purposes of identification and the fostering of esprit de corps. The present policies stem from ideas and practices dating back to the Revolutionary War. In turn, those were influenced by the military traditions of Western Europe to a great extent. The English, French, Dutch, Spanish, and others brought to North America their flags, military uniforms, and other official symbolism. Leaders of the colonists were familiar with military traditions and those of England and France, particularly.

    With the Declaration of Independence and the formation of troops came the need for items to identify the soldiers and military units. From the policies established at that time evolved the basis of future systems of identification of units through the flags displayed.

  • Africa Center Welcomes Assistant Professor of Transnational Threats and Counter-Terrorism

    nickelsBenjamin P. Nickels, PhD, recently joined the Africa Center for Strategic Studies where he is serving as Assistant Professor of Transnational Threats and Counter-Terrorism. 

    In this capacity, Dr. Nickels oversees curriculum and program development in the area of transnational threats focusing on effective practices that promote civil–military cooperation, respect for democratic values, and safeguard of human rights.

    Prior to joining the Africa Center faculty, Dr. Nickels was a faculty researcher at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence at the University of Maryland College Park.

    At START, Dr. Nickels conducted research on the effectiveness and impacts of counter-terrorism measures. His work included case studies on counter-terrorism measures against al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the threat of homegrown Islamist terrorism in the United Kingdom. 

    Dr. Nickels holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago. He has served as a Fulbright Scholar in Morocco, as well as a Chateaubriand fellow and Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) researcher in France. He has taught courses on counter-terrorism, political violence, and Muslim intellectual history. Dr. Nickels also has worked as an analyst and supervisor for a defense contractor in the U.S. Department of the Army.

  • Regional Office for West Africa Hosts AFRICOM Commander

    Regional Office for West Africa Hosts AFRICOM CommanderThe Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ Regional Office for West Africa (ROWA) based in Dakar, Senegal, hosted U.S. Africa Command’s Commander, General William E. Ward, at a luncheon Feb. 8. Senegal was the second stop during General Ward’s four-country tour in West Africa. 

    According to Elisabeth Feleke, Regional Program Manager for ROWA, the event was also part of a consultative process to develop a program designed to build capacity of parliamentarians to effectively oversee the security sector. The luncheon brought together participants from the European Commission, various UN organizations, and Senegalese parliamentarians and military officers.

    General Ward highlighted the need for members of parliament and the security sector to come together not only to understand and oversee the security needs of their nation but also to better understand the functions of the security sector.

    He acknowledged the importance and timeliness of the program by stating that without the basic tools parliaments cannot fully participate in resourcing and managing their security sectors. He reaffirmed that AFRICOM would continue to work very closely with the Africa Center and will remain a committed partner.

    The objectives of the program include: (1) providing an overview of security in West Africa; (2) reviewing parliamentary structures and mechanisms for oversight of the security sector; (3) examining the role of non-state actors, such as civil society and the news media, in security sector oversight; and (4) examining the processes of budgeting and management of security resources.


  • AU Commission Engaged in Security-Related Activities

    african_union2With Africa Center Director Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.) present, Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said the AU is engaged in a number of security related activities and is increasingly broadening its range to solve new challenges. [DOC]