July 2012

  • Africa Center Co-Hosts Civil-Military Symposium, Launches Malawi Chapter

    Malawi Chapter ExecutiveView Photos of the Event LILONGWE, Malawi – In partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) conducted an academic symposium July 25-26, 2012, on the topic of civil-military relations in a democracy, an important topic in Malawi, which underwent a lawful change of leadership in April when Vice President Joyce Banda assumed the presidency following the unexpected death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. The Africa Center symposium also marked the launch of the ACSS Community Chapter in Malawi. The creation of the  Africa Center Malawi Chapter “marks an important milestone in the security sector for Malawi,” said Patrick V. Kachimera, Secretary of National Defence, who spoke at the symposium’s opening ceremony July 25. Because Africa Center programs bring together professionals from across government sectors and civil society, Kachimera suggested the chapter could be used as a “conduit for institution-building in Malawi.” He added that he hoped the Africa Center chapter and its programs would continue to “encourage a culture of professionalism” within the security sector, as well as build greater trust between government agencies and between government and civil sectors. Both days’ sessions were attended by approximately 50 people representing numerous sectors, including the Ministry of National Defence, the National Intelligence Bureau, the Malawi Police Service, the Ministry of Health, a member of Parliament, academic and media professionals, representatives of non-government organizations, and officials from the U.S. Embassy. The Malawi Chapter became the Africa Center’s 31st chapter. ACSS chapters are intended to nurture the exchange of ideas within nations and regions, as well as between host nations and U.S. government representatives. During the ACSS meetings in Lilongwe, Brigadier General Rodrick Chimowa was elected president of the ACSS Malawi Chapter. “Working together we can achieve great things,” Chimowa said. He added that the Malawi government’s support of the ACSS Chapter would contribute to Malawians developing increasingly effective approaches to national and regional security issues. The sudden heart attack and death of President Wa Mutharika in April led to a temporary constitutional crisis in Malawi before his death was formally announced and, in accordance with the constitution of Malawi, President Joyce Banda, who was serving as vice president, was sworn in as the nation’s first female president. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a July statement marking Malawi’s national day, said that “over recent months, Malawi has demonstrated an impressive commitment to the rule of law and democracy.” Ambassador Jeanine Jackson, the U.S. ambassador to Malawi, also has applauded the actions of the Malawi Defence Force for its actions during the presidential transition, saying the MDF “served as a model of what a professional military should do in a democracy." Speaking at the July 25 opening ceremony of the Africa Center event, Lisa Vickers, the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe, also praised the professionalism of the Malawi Defence Force during the presidential transition and spoke of the “deep” partnership between the United States and Malawi. The establishment of the Africa Center chapter in Malawi, she said, would contribute to cross-sector relationships and cooperation between government and civil society. “Sustainable solutions grow from diverse opinions,” Vickers said. Vickers also highlighted the new U.S. Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa, announced in June by President Obama. The policy sets forth four strategic objectives for U.S. engagement in Africa: (1) strengthening democratic institutions; (2) spurring economic growth, trade, and investment; (3) advancing peace and security; and (4) promoting opportunity and development. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies is a U.S. Department of Defense institution for security studies, research, and outreach in Africa. The Washington, D.C.,-based Africa Center sent a three-person academic and outreach delegation to the Malawi Chapter launch, including U.S. Colonel Saul Bracero, deputy chief of staff for ACSS, and Dr. Mathurin C. Houngnikpo, the Academic Chair of Civil-Military Relations at ACSS. Africa Center programs and symposiums gather perspectives and recommendations from a cross-section of international security-sector officials, public servants, and civil-society representatives. Thousands of security, government, and civil-society professionals from across Africa have attended African Center programs since the Center’s founding in 1999. Prior to the July 25-26 symposium, approximately 60 Malawians from across diverse sectors participated in ACSS academic programs. The July 25-26 event in Lilongwe was part of the Africa Center’s Topical Outreach Program Series (TOPS), which allow ACSS chapters and alumni to remain actively involved in regional security discussions. ACSS had conducted more than 90 TOPS visits to 35 African countries.
  • Interview: China and Angola Are Best Friends … For Now, Says Africa Center’s Dr. Assis Malaquias

    DrMalaquiasDr. Assis Malaquias is the Academic Chair for Defense Economics at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. His most recent publication is a chapter titled "China: Angola's New Best Friend, for Now" in China and Angola: A Marriage of Convenience (Fahamu Books & Pambazuka Press) edited by Marcus Power and Ana Christina Alves. In the chapter, Dr. Malaquias continues his in-depth research and analysis on Angola and its geostrategic significance vis-à-vis global powers. The piece provides a concise review of China's historical engagement with Angola, the mutual interests of the Angolan and Chinese governments, and prospects for this bilateral relationship moving forward. In an interview with Africa Center writer Serge Yondou, Dr. Malaquias provides key elements to understand China’s relations with Angola and other African countries, and also the challenges that lay ahead. Q: This is the first book to specifically address the bilateral relationship between Angola and China. Why did it take so long?

    A: Angola and China entered this latest phase in their relationship relatively recently. To be precise, Angola sought this special relationship after the end of its long civil war in 2002 and China responded in significant and tangible ways starting two years later. Also, the impact of China’s relationship with Angola took a little time to begin bearing its first fruits. In other words, I do not believe that it took too long for a book focusing on this relationship to be published this year. Note, however, that there are a growing number of academic journal articles on the subject.

    Q: Many African nations are examining their relationships with China, both from the viewpoint of economic development as well as from the standpoint of democratization and social development. What should other nations in Africa know about the Angola-China partnership? Are there broader lessons that could be applied elsewhere on the continent?

    A: The Angola-China relationship is instructive in a number of important ways. First, China is pursuing its own very specific national interests. Specifically, to fuel its impressive economic growth, China needs to look elsewhere for resources it does not have (or has in dwindling supplies) at home. China’s drive aims, among other things, to lift hundreds of millions of its own people from poverty. In the process, expectedly, China has achieved a new positioning and role in the global arena. In this context, Africa has emerged as a privileged supplier of raw materials for China’s growth. In the case of Angola, the raw material of choice is oil. In return for precious raw materials, China has provided Angola and many other African countries with several things: money, infrastructure projects, and the labor to build those projects. Second, China is undoubtedly spurring economic growth in Africa. The roads, airports, stadia, etc. provide ample evidence of China’s impact. However, this growth is yet to affect human development in Africa. In other words, economic growth does not always translate into economic development. Third, although most Chinese projects are completed very quickly and cost-effectively, many have serious quality issues. Fourth, since Chinese companies bring their own inputs (and often rely on imported Chinese services and service-providers), the impact of Chinese activities on local business development is much lower than expected. Finally, a much lower than expected number of Angolans is acquiring the skills (construction, service, etc) that could have resulted from working with Chinese enterprises. Thus, either the Chinese companies will have to stay for much longer than either part anticipated (if only to provide proper regular maintenance to the infrastructure projects they are building) or those projects will quickly deteriorate, with implications for how China is viewed in Angola and elsewhere in Africa.

    Q: This book explores why the partnership between China and Angola developed and shows how it serves the two countries’ separate interests both now and in the longer term. But the chapter you authored says both countries are best friends … for now. Do you anticipate any break out in that relation in the coming years? What could be the cause?

    A: It will be difficult to sustain this relationship over the long run because the two countries are on different trajectories. Angola is attempting to build a fully functioning democracy and an open economy. China, on the other hand, is yet to provide signs that it is willing to liberalize its political system. As Angolan democracy matures, it will naturally gravitate toward other mature democracies.

    Q: In 2012, most Angolans are still getting by on less than two dollars a day, despite their country’s rich deposits of oil and diamond. How do you explain that? How come that there is no trickledown effect of the country’s wealth so far?

    A: As I mentioned before, economic growth does not necessarily equate to development. It all depends on who benefits from the growth. In the case of Angola, a small segment of the population has been allowed to capture the bulk of the proceeds from the spectacular growth that has taken place since the end of the civil war. Also, since many Angolans understand that the fastest way to realize their economic aspirations is through access to oil and diamond wealth (or those who control it), there is a disincentive to pursue other economic activities like agriculture.

    Q: Before independence in 1975, Angola was a breadbasket of southern Africa and a major exporter of bananas, coffee and sisal. The country now depends on expensive food imports, mainly from South Africa and Portugal, while more than 90 percent of farming is done at family and subsistence level. Why is agriculture left on the side by Angolan leaders? What can be done to improve matters, and can the China partnership help?

    A: Prior to independence in 1975, the agricultural sector – like all other economic sectors – was dominated by Portuguese settlers. The violence surrounding Angola’s independence led to the flight of just about all settlers, including those who lived in rural areas and were engaged in commercial farming. As a result, by the late 1970s, the formal agricultural sector had completely collapsed. Attempts to revive this important sector were then frustrated for nearly three decades because the rural parts of Angola were seriously affected by the protracted guerrilla war that ensued after the collapse of the power-sharing agreement between the liberation movements who fought to end colonialism in Angola. The result of the collapse of the agricultural sector in Angola can be seen in the fact that Angola currently imports much of its food needs. The end of the civil war in 2002 has created minimum conditions to re-launch the agricultural sector. But this will require a concerted effort by the government to design and implement agricultural policies that provide sufficient incentives for people to re-learn the skills and habits necessary to succeed in this sector. This, in turn, will lead – over time – to Angola regaining its position as a net producer of agricultural goods. Hopefully, this will happens before oil runs out.

  • Statement by President Obama on the Death of President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana

    20120308-ghanaIt was with great regret that I learned of the passing of President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana. I will always remember my trip to Ghana in 2009, and the hospitality that President Mills and the people of Ghana showed to me, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and our entire delegation. I was also pleased to host President Mills in the Oval Office earlier this year.  President Mills tirelessly worked to improve the lives of the Ghanaian people.  He helped promote economic growth in Ghana in the midst of challenging global circumstances and strengthened Ghana’s strong tradition of democracy. Under his leadership, the United States and Ghana deepened our partnership in the promotion of good governance and economic development. He was also a strong advocate for human rights and for the fair treatment of all Ghanaians.  On behalf of the American people, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the people of Ghana, and reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between our democracies that President Mills helped to strengthen.

    Source: The White House

  • Africa Center’s Dr. Nickels Discusses AQIM, Sahel Development, and Security with World Bank Leaders

    Nickels 07 2012Africa Center for Strategic Studies Assistant Professor of Transnational Threats, Dr. Benjamin Nickels, contributed to a recent discussion about development and security in the Sahel with approximately 25 senior World Bank leaders at the organization’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. The group focused on the crisis in Mali and the region’s looming food crisis, as well as drug trafficking and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). “Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is the most significant and powerful terrorist organization operating in the Sahel today,” said Nickels. “[However,] the threat AQIM poses to the region should not be overstated.” The World Bank discussion took place in May 2012. Based on his own research and conversations with security sectors leaders in the Sahel and the United States, Nickels said AQIM has some weaknesses, including its size (the group is estimated to include at most 1,000 members), internal divisions, and ideological weaknesses. “AQIM is internally divided and does not enjoy great coherence and discipline,” Nickels said. “It suffers from leadership and ideological divides, and above all, there is a significant North–South tension, which has existed for at least a decade,” since before the predecessor group – the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) – merged with al-Qaeda. According to Nickels’ research, AQIM also remains ideologically weak, and joining the international Al Qaeda network did not result in higher recruitment of followers. The merger may have distanced the group from powerful local grievances while doing little to unite the Northern and Southern factions. “In fact, if anything, the Sahel battalions have become more criminal than ideological in their behavior since the 2007 merger,” said Nickels. “Some analysts refer to the period after 2008 as the criminalization [era] of AQIM.” The ACSS scholar acknowledged that the terrorist group, whether as GSPC or AQIM, has managed to adapt and survive for some 14 years, despite considerable efforts to put a stop to its activities. AQIM’s operatives have also proven capable of navigating a dynamic landscape of sub-state powers and violent non-state actors in the Sahel, in part by building alliances with local tribes and communities such as the Tuareg and Berabiche through business interactions and marriages. AQIM has also found a way to cooperate with drug traffickers and smugglers. Furthermore, it has maintained its ability to conduct attacks, especially on Westerners and Western officials.  By one account, the number of people kidnapped for ransom between 2003 and 2011 was at least 54. Nickels also said the response to AQIM’s threat has been international, regional, and national. At the international level, the United States has taken the lead in responding to terrorism in the Sahel. It has done so through dedicated regional initiatives that have been ongoing for nearly a decade. Nickels cited the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), a program led by the U.S. Department of State that involves the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Agency for International Development. TSCTP includes joint-training operations and programs that address root causes of terrorism in the Sahel. At the regional level, the most important initiative, Nickels said, was the 2009 creation of a Joint Operation Committee of Chiefs of Staff headquartered in Tamanrasset, Algeria, that brings together Algerian, Mauritanian, Malian, and Nigerien militaries in an effort to improve information sharing and coordination of operations across the borders. “How effective all these responses to AQIM have been is open to debate,” Nickels said. “They probably deserve some credit for AQIM’s containment. And the growing engagement of the pivotal player, Algeria, is generally a positive sign.” Nickels suggested that this marks the second time in the World Bank’s history that the Sahel as a region has emerged as a site of policy debate and action. The first occasion was in the 1970s and 1980s, when drought and famine brought the region to the world’s attention and made humanitarian aid and development the preeminent concern. This time, security concerns predominate, and “the World Bank may need to find ways of leveraging the region’s security concerns without becoming overly wedded to them or defined by them.” The security landscape will likely directly shape World Bank’s work, however.  “AQIM’s penchant for attacking Westerners and representatives of international institutions may continue to hinder international development efforts in the Sahel,” Nickels concluded. “The Bank may need to develop a strategy for conducting development work in an environment where its representatives on the ground are targets as such.”
  • Africa Center Co-Sponsors U.S. AFRICOM Academic Symposium in Tanzania

    [caption id="attachment_19360" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="U.S Ambassador to Tanzania Alfonso E Lenhardt (seated third from right), Commander of U.S Africa Command (AFRICOM) General Carter F Ham (seated third from left) and Chief of Planning and Development of the Tanzania Peoples' Defense Forces Major General Leonard Mndeme (seated second from right) with organizers and participants of the 5th U.S. Africa Command Academic Symposium after officiating the symposium in Dar es Salaam on July 10, 2012. © Rogers Cidosa - U.S. Embassy, Dar es Salaam "]AcademicSymposium2012-Group[/caption]

    Dar es Salaam – The Africa Center for Strategic Studies, based in Washington, D.C., co-hosted the 5th U.S. Africa Command Academic Symposium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 9-12, 2012. The event, conducted in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, was also attended by General Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. AFRICOM, and by Ambassador Alfonso E. Lenhardt, U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania.

    Approximately 45 academic professionals from Africa, Europe, and the United States – with expertise in African security-related subjects – were attending the symposium. The goals of the event included soliciting input and engaging in dialogue on how the U.S. military can best support peace and stability on the African continent, as well as to increase understanding of the U.S. Africa Command and the role of the U.S. military in Africa among academic communities that work in and with Africa.

    “I believe the symposium will enhance our ability to cooperate on shared security challenges,” said Major General Leonard Mndeme of the Tanzania Peoples' Defence Forces, who also spoke at the opening ceremony. “We are all in this together.”

    Ham, the commander of U.S. Africa Command, also spoke at the July 9 opening of the symposium.

    "I think it is important to have this dialogue,” Ham said, “and for us military personnel to listen, to learn, to widen our thinking, and to look at problem-solving from a non-military perspective. And that’s what this audience provides."

    Under the theme “African Perspectives and the Africa Security Environment: Challenges and Opportunities,” the symposium has engaged academic professionals whose expertise includes history, political science, security studies, civil-military relations and conflict management. Participants were assessing U.S. Africa Command’s support of democratic civil-military relations in Africa and discussing challenges to the command in building security-sector capacity on the continent. Also scheduled was a session on how the African Union is responding to challenges in Somalia, as well as discussion of cooperation between the U.S. military and the academic community on countering violent extremism in East Africa.

    Ambassador Lenhardt of the U.S. Embassy said that as Africans seek better futures for their children, “vigilance and preparedness are necessary to identify and defeat threats to national security worldwide.” Within the region, he added, security threats include violent extremism in nearby Horn of Africa.

    Ambassador Alfonso E. Lenhardt's Remarks Opening remarks

    “Violent extremism -- and the challenges that accompany this ideology -- crosses borders and poses a real concern not only for East Africa, but the entire African continent, and indeed the world,” Lenhardt said. “ It affects economies.  It impacts African the livelihoods of farmers, fishermen, and families.  It impacts the potential for children to get an education safely and securely, and to reach their potential in life.”

    Addressing these challenges  requires “a coordinated effort -- between the academic, security, and diplomatic communities,” Lenhardt said.

    The academic symposium in Tanzania builds upon previous engagements with African academic communities. Previous symposia included: June 2008 in Leesburg, Virginia; August 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; April 2010 in Stuttgart, Germany; and July 2010 in Dakar, Senegal.

    View Photos From the Event.

  • Unfinished Business: A Framework for Peace in the Great Lakes

    DRCMap By Rigobert Minani Bihuzo. Africa Center for Strategic Studies, July 2012.

    Despite numerous peace agreements, Africa's Great Lakes region has been in a persistent state of conflict for the past two decades. The contributions and shortcomings of some of the most significant previous peace initiatives, however, offer vital lessons as to how to mitigate the local level tensions, national political dynamics, and competing regional interests that have led to recurring outbreaks of violence.

    Download the Brief: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

  • Africa Center Supports Sierra Leone Pre-Election Symposium; Africa-wide Voting Issues Discussed

    SierraLeoneSymposiumFREETOWN, Sierra Leone - The Sierra Leone Chapter of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) hosted a daylong symposium in June 2012 aimed at advancing cross-government dialogue and cooperation for historic elections scheduled to take place in November.

    Participants said many of the issues discussed are relevant to elections across Africa. The upcoming election in Sierra Leone is important enough that Africa Center chapter leaders were featured on nationwide radio and television and were invited to meet with President Ernest Bai Koroma, who said the ACSS chapter symposium was timely because the upcoming elections understandably represent the main focus of the nation’s security for the immediate future. In addition, Koroma emphasized that Sierra Leone cannot achieve security in isolation but also must be concerned with the stability and security of neighbors and regional partners.

    “In many countries across Africa, the right to vote and to be elected is now widely accepted as a fundamental human and constitutional right,” said retired Ambassador Joe C. Blell, president of the Sierra Leone Chapter. “State authorities therefore have the responsibility to set the conditions for credible election processes,” Blell said in opening remarks at the June 11 symposium, which was titled “State of Preparedness with the Security Sector: Working Towards Free, Fair, and Credible Elections.”

    The symposium included three Africa Center academic and outreach staff members from the United States and brought together approximately 50 representatives from across Sierra Leone’s government and civil society. They discussed the role the West African nation’s security sector will play in support of presidential parliamentary, district, and city elections. The U.S. Embassy in Freetown co-sponsored the meeting, which was attended by members of parliament, representatives of several national political parties, and by Minister of Defense and National Security Alfred Palo Conteh. Also attending were U.S. Ambassador Michael S. Owen, as well as representatives from the United Nations police, the European Union, and the Embassies of China and the United Kingdom. Opening remarks  by several speakers were covered by the media. Follow-on presentations and discussions were conducted under the Africa Center’s strict policy of non-attribution.

    “With elections only about six months away, the most pressing immediate security concern is for Sierra Leone … to maintain this environment that will allow you to conduct free, fair, transparent, and violence-free elections,” Owen, the U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, said in opening remarks at the symposium.

    The Washington, D.C.,-based Africa Center conducts academic seminars and idea-sharing programs in the United States, in African nations, and in Europe, with the goal of helping to identify and resolve security challenges in ways that promote civil-military cooperation, respect for democratic values, and safeguard human rights. Thousands of security sector professionals and other African leaders have attended ACSS courses since the Center was founded in 1999. The Africa Center has alumni community chapters in 29 nations, and the Sierra Leone Chapter was founded in August 2011 with assistance from the U.S. Embassy.

    “The ACSS alumni chapter for Sierra Leone is, I think, a very concrete, tangible example of the spirit of true friendship that exists between our two countries,” said Owen, the U.S. ambassador. “And it’s also a symbol of our shared commitment to building a more secure future for both Sierra Leone and the United States.”

    SierraLeoneAlghali-Jun12Professor Sidi T.O. Alghali, of the University of Sierra Leone, said the June symposium would be one of several meetings before the November elections, with the goal of helping Sierra Leone work toward long-term political stability and development.

    “The outcome of this gathering, and subsequent consultations,” he said, “envisions a safe, well-secure, politically tolerant country with a buoyant economy, well-managed resources, capacitated functional national institutions, and free, fair, and responsible press, and an equitable distribution of national wealth.”

    Alghali said that threats to the elections and political stability “range from corruption to youth unemployment, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, illiteracy, piracy, national and trans-national crimes, regional divides, poverty, money laundering, drug trafficking, environmental degradation, deforestation, terrorism, [and] water shortage,” as well as poor garbage management and shortcomings in educational institutions.

    Along with media coverage of the opening sessions, the symposium discussions were attended by numerous representatives of civil society.

    Mustapha K. Dumbuya, national security coordinator for Sierra Leone and a retired brigadier, said it was necessary for media and independent civil groups to be deeply involved in the election process.

    “These stakeholders include those that help to disseminate vital information about the electioneering process, those that monitor the entire process in order to ensure transparency, those that will provide the enabling environment for a credible and peaceful conduct of the process,” Dumbuya told participants. “Thus, the security and justice sectors, the media, civil society groups, and our development partners are key to the success of the electoral process.”

    Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war ended in 2002 and was characterized by tens of thousands of deaths and widespread atrocities. The United Nations withdrew peacekeepers in 2005, and the first post-conflict elections took place in August 2007, according to U.S. Department of State Country Background Notes on Sierra Leone.

    “The outcome of the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections manifested the resolve of Sierra Leoneans to put the past behind and get back on sound democratic processes that will offer the platform for sustainable development,” Dumbuya said. “The elections were internationally proclaimed to be free and fair, and also conducted in a safe and secure environment provided by the Sierra Leonean security sector.”

    Numerous Sierra Leone officials said this year’s elections are expected to be more complex than the 2007 elections. Dumbuya said extensive planning was needed between government sectors and with civil society “In order to consolidate the gains that have been made in strengthening democracy and fostering peace and development.”

    The symposium was part of the Africa Center’s Topical Outreach Program Series, or TOPS, which allows the Washington, D.C.,-based Africa Center to maintain an active network of relationships with alumni community groups in nations across Africa. Typically, a small academic and outreach team visits nations with active ACSS communities once every one to two years to participate in workshops and symposiums. The symposiums are organized by the local community groups.

    In addition to the daylong symposium, the Sierra Leone Chapter conducted a one-day consultative session for an upcoming Africa Center Security Sector Reform workshop, scheduled for October in Dakar, Senegal. The consultative session, attended by more than a dozen officials, solicited input in designing the regional workshop.

    "Our partners in Sierra Leone provided an excellent set of recommendations for the West Africa Workshop on Security Sector Reform,” said Professor Thomas Dempsey, the Africa Center’s Chair for Security Studies, who participated in both the election symposium and the Security Sector Reform (SSR) workshop. “The lessons learned from Sierra Leone's post-conflict SSR program can benefit the entire region, and I anticipate that the participants from Freetown will make invaluable contributions to the October event."

    Article by Vince Crawley, deputy director for communications and community affairs at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies

    Additional photos from the Africa Center symposium and consultative session are posted on Flickr. View Photos From the Event.

  • Links to Videos, Articles, Plenary Highlights of 2012 Senior Leaders Seminar

    SLS Group Photo 2012

    Beginning just days after the Obama Administration released the new U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) conducted its two-week Senior Leader Seminar from June 18-29, 2012. The flagship program 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.

    Below are links to videos, articles, and plenary highlights from the public portion of the presentations conducted by senior U.S. and African leaders. Academic discussions at the Africa Center are conducted under a strict policy of non-attribution to allow free and open sharing of ideas. However, speakers agreed to allow portions of their presentations to appear on the record in order to promote broader awareness of the issues.

    The Senior Leaders Seminar has taken place annually since the Africa Center was established in 1999. Featured speakers included: Amanda J. Dory, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs; 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.

    Following are links to highlights of the 2012 Senior Leaders Seminar: VIDEOS: PHOTOS: ARTICLES: PLENARY DISCUSSIONS: NEWS COVERAGE OF THE SENIOR LEADERS SEMINAR:  
  • Africa Center Wraps Up Senior Leaders Seminar in Washington, D.C.

    SLSClosingCeremonyView Photos of the Event

    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.