June 2012

  • Defense Minister Samukai: Liberia Is a Good Example of Security Sector Transformation


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    Efforts to foster political, social, and economic progress must be underpinned by a robust security sector, Liberian Defense Minister Brownie Samukai told 70 African security sector leaders on June 26, 2012, in Arlington, Virginia.

    Speaking at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) Senior Leaders Seminar, Samukai outlined plans to have his nation’s security forces and institutions fully operational by 2014.

    “By 2014, we will have a [Liberian] general, a [Liberian] Chief of staff with adequate training and experience,” he said. The United States and other members of the international community have helped to rebuild a new Armed Forces of Liberia. The nation’s civil war ended in 2003, and the previous armed forces were fully demobilized as part of the peace agreement. The United Nations has provided national security and military leadership during the creation of the new armed forces.

    Samukai said Liberia has followed a plan for a comprehensive development of its security sector, both military and police. Also, the size of the military and police forces are such that Liberia must be able to sustain them with its own resources in a foreseeable future. For example, about 2,000 personnel are in the Armed Forces of Liberia.

    The defense minister acknowledged that the nation’s security sector — still recovering from the 1999-2003 civil war – continues to face major challenges, such as the issue of loyalty among those who did not pass the vetting process for the new Armed Forces of Liberia after serving as soldiers during the civil war.

    “Veterans [of the civil war] that are not integrated in the army are a concern, but nor a threat,” Samukai said.

    Liberia has planned detailed steps for the transition from the United Nations to national responsibility for maintaining security, Samukai said. The transition plan thus far has been successfully implemented, he said, because it has the support of the Liberian people and because it has been approved by the international community, especially the United States, which provides funds and trainers for the new armed forces.

    Samukai said training is very important for security sector leaders, and must be a continuing process. He also said Liberia’s situation still remains somewhat fragile, and gaps remain in the development process. These problems notwithstanding, Liberia security sector transformation can provide a number of lessons for other African countries, he said.

    The two-week Senior Leaders Seminar, scheduled from June 18-29, provided a forum for 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.

    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, and General Carter F. Ham, Commander–U.S. Africa Command, also spoke to seminar participants.

    Article by Serge Yondou, communications specialist for the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

  • State Dept.’s Brigety: U.S. Ready to Support Security Sector Reform in Africa

    Dr. Reuben Brigety II

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    The U.S. government believes a professional and accountable security sector will benefit Africa’s safety and governance, Dr. Reuben Brigety II, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional Security Affairs, told an assembly of security sector leaders June 22, 2012. Brigety was the featured speaker at a special plenary on security sector reform at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) flagship Senior Leaders Seminar. This year’s two-week seminar was taking place June 18-29 at in Arlington, Virginia.

    Brigety tied his speech to the new “U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa,” released by the White House on June 14. He focused his remarks on the first strategic pillar set forth in the presidential policy document: Strengthening democratic institutions.

    “Strengthening the security apparatus without doing the same for the political often leads to disaster,” said Brigety. “It is important that security sector leaders report to democratically elected civilians.”

    To illustrate his argument, Brigety reminded the audience that on April 5, 2012, when Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika died, there were reports of an attempted coup intended to prevent vice-president Joyce Banda from becoming president as outlined by the constitution. The military stepped in and vowed to support and uphold the constitution of Malawi. This level of professionalism had a direct impact on the smooth transition of power. Brigety expressly applauded the commander of the Malawi Defence Force, General Henry Odillo, for his leadership and loyalty at that challenging time.

    Brigety also pointed out two important aspects for successful security sector reform. It must be (1) comprehensive; it must include judiciary sector and correction facilities and (2) multitiered—countries  must be willing to work with international partners.

    “A security sector reform that follows those steps must provide the basis for a secure society,” said Brigety, “and a secure society paves the ground for economic growth.”

    Brigety said the U.S. government is committed to improving the security sector in Africa and will provide ideas and assistance, - on both programs and policy -- to whomever expresses the request.

    “If any of you need assistance for reviewing, upgrading your security sector apparatus, the U.S. government is ready to assist you,” he told the audience.

    The two-week Senior Leaders Seminar provided a forum for 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.

    Amanda J. Dory, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs, gave the keynote address at the opening ceremony. Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary State for African Affairs, and General Carter F. Ham, Commander—U.S. Africa Command , also spoke to seminar participants.

    Article by Serge Yondou, communications specialist for the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

  • ACSS Senior Leaders Seminar: Dr. Robert H. Dorff on Strategy and its Importance to National Security

    PlenaryLEditor’s note: Nations worldwide, including those in Africa, are increasingly reexamining and refining their national security strategies to seek appropriate roles for their militaries and security sectors in an era of financial challenges and complex security environments. Thus, “Strategy and National Security” was the featured topic of a plenary session for the 14th annual Senior Leaders Seminar, sponsored by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. The seminar took place from June 18-29, 2012, in Arlington, Virginia, and was attended by 70 security sector professionals and other government leaders from 40 African nations.  The “Strategy and National Security” plenary was conducted by Dr. Robert H. Dorff, Professor in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Academic discussions at the Africa Center are conducted under a strict policy of non-attribution to allow free and open discussion. However, several presenters agree to allow portions of their presentations to appear on the record in order to promote broader discussion.

    Dr. Robert H. Dorff began the second day of the ACSS Senior Leaders Seminar by presenting on strategy and its importance to national security. He focused the plenary session on a discussion of what strategy is, why strategy matters to national security, and how to craft an effective strategy. Through his remarks and participation from attendees, these lessons were applied to situations specific to Africa.

    Dr. Dorff explained that a strategy is the calculated relationship among ends, means, and ways—which he also stated as “what to accomplish, the resources to reach those objectives, and how those resources will be applied.” These important concepts can be applied at any scale, including national, regional, or local. He stressed that strategy is dynamic and interactive; a good strategy must adjust to changing circumstances and evolve based on the actions of other entities in the situation. These challenges make crafting a strategy a non-linear, adaptive, and ongoing enterprise at senior levels. The development of an effective strategy involves considering many possible contingencies to avoid surprise and the “oops factor” that comes from being caught off-guard.

    While strategizing is not deterministic or linear, Dr. Dorff offered some universal guidelines to creating a good strategy:

    • Ends, ways and means must be in balance.
    • Resources are always scarce, so risk of neglecting an issue is an inherent property of strategizing. Choosing which risks to take and deciding beforehand how to manage those risks is essential to creating stability.
    • Ends matter most. While all three major factors are essential, going quickly or effectively to the wrong destination is ultimately purposeless. Having the wrong goals will result in a failed strategy.
    • “Being busy” or “doing something” is not a strategy. Reacting to crises individually can often create or exacerbate other problems; issues are not independent from one another, and should be considered in a larger perspective.
    • Means should not drive strategy. Many countries fall into the trap of deciding their course by what resources are available to them, rather than deciding their objectives and planning how to leverage their resources to achieve those ends.

    While strategies can deal with various topics at any level, the focus of this session was national-level security strategy. Dr. Dorff emphasized that security encompasses more than just military functions and times of war, but must involve all instruments of national power during both peace and war. Combining diplomatic, informational, military, and economic power to achieve objectives which ensure human rights, health, emergency preparedness, and safety from external threats are all necessary parts of a security strategy.

    Dr. Dorff offered guidance regarding how national security strategies should be developed. Leaders must identify core values that the country stands for, such as democracy, equality, prosperity, and safety. They must then list and prioritize interests and objectives that which promote these values. Resources should be committed to these priorities, and specific plans developed to achieve the overall goals. Making these decisions of priority and resource allocation is inherently difficult, and will require choices made using the three guides of “brains, heart, and gut.” Once a strategy is in place, it must have a feedback mechanism to ensure that leadership is adapting to changes in circumstance and the actions of other players.

    Dr. Dorff explained that national strategies have an inherent political dimension. Ideally, the policies enacted by government and the voice of the people should provide the guidance to crafting a strategy. He also identified difficulties that arise in crafting strategy. For instance, the requirements of individual rights must be balanced against the requirements of government powers. In other cases, the process can become more about political appearances than achieving meaningful ends. Many leaders try to reduce their own public accountability by exaggerating the possible objectives and minimizing the stated costs required to accomplish them. For these and other reasons, Dr. Dorff stated, the process of creating and executing a national security strategy must include balanced participation from military, government, and the general population.

    In specific regard to Africa, some participants showed concern that some African nations lack the precondition of good governance to create meaningful strategies. Dr. Dorff agreed that corruption presents an additional challenge to creating an effective national strategy, stating that “without good governance, you will not get strategy right.” Encouraging rule of law, accounting for resources used, and acting in the national interest are required prerequisites for creating an effective strategy, and these efforts should always be a focus of nations.

    In response to questions about achieving ends with limited economic means, Dr. Dorff stated that strategizing is even more essential for countries which lack resources, because they cannot afford as many missteps as a wealthier country. In such cases, issues such as increasing trade and investment must be identified as high-priority objectives within a strategy in order to bolster a country’s ability to manage its future strategic progress. In this era of globalization, this process can involve creating international or regional strategies with partners, to promote stable relationships and encourage economic gain.

    When asked about logistics of distribution, use, and content of national strategies to ensure a “whole of government” effort, Dr. Dorff emphasized that a strategy should be disseminated to all parties who play a role in carrying it out, and that there can exist an unclassified version for public consumption and a classified document for limited use. He encouraged inter-agency cooperation when necessary, but also mentioned that the “whole of government” approach is not always required and can become a distraction from the actual objectives of strategy. “Whole of government” effort, he stressed, is a way, not an end.

    Many African leaders voiced their gratitude and appreciation for Dr. Dorff and his remarks, and stated their intentions to use his guidance to refine their approach to their own national issues.

    Summary prepared by Eric Severson. Mr. Severson is pursuing a M.S. in Defense and Strategic Studies at Missouri State University, and is a 2012 summer student employee of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

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  • AFRICOM’s Ham Says U.S. Interested in Stable, Secure Africa More Than Ever

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    The U.S. Africa Command is committed to supporting a host of tasks in cooperation with nations across Africa, to include countering violent extremist organizations, transnational threats, illicit trafficking, and piracy, as well as enabling the capability of African nations to contribute more effectively to regional security and humanitarian emergencies, said General Carter F. Ham, AFRICOM commander.

    Ham was the featured speaker of a special session at the Senior Leaders Seminar, hosted by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on June 25, 2012, in Arlington, Virginia. The seminar was scheduled to run June 18-29.

    Addressing an audience of 70 African security sector leaders, Ham gave an overview of U.S. AFRICOM’s current and past operation, as well as the Command’s relationship to African militaries. His remarks focused on three main topics:

    • Why the United States seeks security engagement in Africa;
    • What the U.S. military can do for Africa and how African armed forces can access the types of assistance they are looking for; and,
    • How the U.S. Africa Command is perceived in Africa.

    In his presentation, Ham acknowledged the new “U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa,” released by the White House on June 14. He also focused his remarks on the Defense Department’s “Strategic Guidance for the 21st Century.” also approved by President Obama and released by the Pentagon in January.

    Ham said the U.S. military in Africa has a “fundamental” requirement to protect U.S. interests but that nearly all of the day-to-day work of AFRICOM involves helping to enhance the capabilities of African militaries as they undertake regional security missions. “Fundamental to our efforts are -- like all nations -- the absolute imperative[s] for the United States military to protect America, Americans, and American interest,” Ham said, “and in our case, in my case, protect us from threats that may emerge from the African continent.”  This defense mission is “the primary mission of all militaries, not just America,” Ham said. “But that’s why militaries exist, to protect our homeland, protect our citizens, protect our interests.”

    Several extremist groups in Africa could threaten the United States, he said, including al-Qaeda in East Africa and its affiliated organization, al-Shabaab, which operates primarily in Somalia. In West Africa, al-Qaeda in the lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is an organization “of growing concern” that has found “safe haven in a large portion of Mali,” Ham said. In Nigeria, Boko Haram is an “increasingly violent organization” that in recent days and weeks has killed large number of innocent civilians, he said.

    “Each of those three organizations [al-Shabaab, AQIM, and Boko Haram] is by itself a dangerous and worrisome threat,” said Ham. “What really concerns me are the indications that the three organizations are seeking to coordinate and synchronize their efforts; in other words, to establish a cooperative effort amongst the most violent organizations. And I think that’s a problem for us and for African security in general.”

    U.S. support for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is an example of how the United States works to support African militaries, mainly through training, equipping, and funding, Ham said. The main AMISOM contributor nations include Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone, and Kenya, with support from Ethiopia, Ham said.

    “We think that’s an ideal role for the Unites States,” Ham said. “Not large U.S. military presence -- we think that would be counterproductive, actually, in Somalia -- but rather applying the resources that we do have to help those countries that are willing to contribute to this effort, to help them with training and equipping and with some funding so that they can continue their operations. And I think that’s a pretty good model for us.”

    Ham also said the multinational effort to help four African nations bring Joseph Kony and senior members of his Lord’s Resistance Army to justice is consistent with AFRICOM’s overall strategy and priorities. “This is an African-led effort, with the support of the U.S.,” Ham said, “and we think this is the right approach.”

    The AFRICOM commander added that this supporting approach also reinforces one of the underlying principles of U.S. policy in Africa laid out by President Obama during his visit to Ghana in July 2009, when he said that in the long run, African leaders were the best suited to address African security problems.

    Ham said security threats in Africa often are more regional than they are domestic. Therefore, the U.S. government and his Africa Command favor a regional approach to seek solutions.  U.S. forces, he emphasized, are not there to tell African what to do but to discuss with Africans armies -- who have an in-depth understanding of each situation -- on the best ways to use U.S. military capabilities that could benefits their security forces.

    “I can help,” said Ham, “but I can only help in the way that you would like to be helped.”

    Ham voiced concern about the current transition in Libya following last year’s NATO-supported toppling of the Qadhafi regime. The U.S. government is working with the new Libyan government to bring militia under some degree of government control, Ham said, while at the same time AQIM is also establish itself in the area.

    In the third point of his speech, Ham addressed how perceptions of AFRICOM often are negatively portrayed in U.S. mainstream and international media. He stressed that the AFRICOM is not seeking any permanent bases in Africa other than the existing installation in Djibouti, and that Stuttgart has proved to be an effective location for travel to Africa and for numerous official visitors from African nations. He said that for the foreseeable future, and given the fiscal constraints the U.S. government is facing, AFRICOM’s headquarter will remain in Stuttgart, Germany.

    Ham also asked that African military leaders be patient while seeking cooperation and assistance from the U.S. military.

    “If you would like some assistance, the most important ingredient for us is time,” Ham said, noting that the U.S. military often is constrained by U.S. Congress and bureaucratic requirements.

    Ham’s presentation led to a tough questions from the African security sector leaders about US-Africa relations and how AFRICOM fits in. These discussions took place under the Africa Center’s strict policy of non-attribution to promote open and candid dialogue.

    The Senior Leaders Seminar was scheduled to run June 18-29. The two-week colloquium provided a forum for 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.

    Amanda J. Dory, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs, gave the keynote address at the opening ceremony. Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary State for African Affairs, also spoke to seminar participants.

    Download Transcript [PDF]

  • African Security Sector Leaders Visit Capitol, Meet with U.S. Senator and Staff

    7415173290_8dc18d1ef0_bView Photos of the Event

    For the first time since the Senior Leaders Seminar was created in 1999, participants in the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ flagship program visited the U.S. Capitol on June 21, 2012, and exchanged views with a U.S. senator and senior staff members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    The trip to the heart of the U.S. elected-body of power was meant to increase participants’ understanding of the policymaking role of the U.S. Congress, as well as to allow an opportunity for help key lawmakers and staff to hear a variety of African views on U.S. policy.

    Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, ranking member on the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on African Affairs, met with approximately 70 military and civilian leaders from 40 African nations. Isakson pointed out that the United States currently faces significant budget challenges, resulting in nearly every government activity being viewed through a cost/benefit prism. However, “the benefits of partnering with Africa outweigh the cost,” he said. “So far, a democratic Africa is good for the U.S.” After brief remarks, Isakson responded to numerous questions before excusing himself to participate in a floor vote on an important farm bill.

    As part of the two-hour visit, the African leaders also held talks with three veteran staffers who have been deeply involved in U.S.-Africa relations.

    Michael V. Phelan, senior policy advisor on the Foreign Relations Committee for ranking member Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, provided an overview of the workings of the U.S. Senate. Phelan’s portfolio includes African affairs, Afghanistan, and post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction. He explained how the staffers who work on Capitol Hill play a key role in creating laws, putting together press conferences, and orchestrating committee hearings. They are also instrumental conducting research to help elected members make informed decisions.

    7415171360_51d1889ef8_bShannon Smith, senior staff member for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, added that work by the Senate professional staff is critical in helping the elected members of the Foreign Relations Committee have a comprehensive approach of each issue.

    Lauren Ploch Blanchard spoke about the role of parliamentary research institutions like the Congressional Research Service (CRS), part of the Library of Congress, where she specializes in Africa issues. CRS provides nonpartisan analysis on African political, military and diplomatic affairs, and on U.S. policy in the region, to Members of Congress, congressional committees, and congressional staff, she said.

    “I have many bosses, since we are non-partisan,” she noted. “We [at the CRS] try to be as objective as possible when we provide information to both sides of the aisle.”

    Discussions with the African participants were conducted under the Africa Center’s strict policy of non-attribution to allow candid discussion. Topics include international aid and economic development, bilateral security assistance, and humanitarian crisis response.

    “This has been very interesting,” said one participant at the end of the meeting. “Now I have a better understanding of what the U.S. Congress is, and how it works.”

    The Senior Leaders Seminar opened on June 18, 2012. The two-week colloquium 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. The two-week seminar was scheduled to run June 18-29.

  • Assistant Secretary Carson: Africa’s Development Is Top US Priority

    Carson SLS 2012View Photos of the Event The top U.S. diplomat for Africa told a group of senior African security leaders that development is among the highest priorities for U.S. foreign policy on the continent. “Nowhere else in the world is development more critical to our engagement than in Africa,” Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson told a room full of decision-makers on June 18, 2012, the first day of a two-week seminar hosted in Arlington, Virginia, by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS).

    Addressing more than 70 security experts from 40 African countries at the Africa Center’s 14th annual Senior Leaders Seminar, Carson focused his remarks on fleshing out details of the new  U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, announced by the White House on June 14.  The new strategy sets forth four objectives for U.S. engagement in Africa: (1) strengthen democratic institutions; (2) spur economic growth, trade, and investment; (3) advance peace and security; and (4) promote opportunity and development. (See related article: “White House Redesigns the Future of America’s Partnership with Sub-Saharan Africa” ) “Since the 1990s, dozens of African countries have moved quietly from dictatorship to democracy” Carson said, commenting on the first pillar of the strategy. “[It is] one of the most impressive transformations in recent history.”

    However, Carson, said challenges still persist, and military coups remain a major threat to democracy on the continent. Flawed elections also weaken governments and emphasize citizens’ distrust. He noted that the current administration voiced concerns over the conduct of elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo in November 2011. On the other hand, he also highlighted recent successful elections in Nigeria, Senegal, and Zambia, as well as Liberia. “African countries need civilian government that delivers services to the people, independent judiciaries that enforce the law, [and] professional security forces that respect human rights and act under democratically constitutional governments,” Carson said.

    Speaking on economics and growth, he said there is increasing evidence that democratic governance and improved economic performances are correlated. He also said the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) continues to achieve effective results, opening up U.S. markets for thousands of African goods and services. Carson added that the U.S. government remains committed to AGOA, and believes that the Act has brought substantial economic, commercial, and trade benefits to a number of the countries that have participated. So far, since its enactment in 2000, two-way trade has grown to $ 82.1 billion, and export to the United States has grown to $18.4 billion. “It is a program which is widely valued across the African continent,” Carson noted. “And it is a program which has resulted in a substantial increase in African exports into the United States’ market.”

    Carson said the Obama administration’s agenda on advancing peace and security in Africa -- the third pillar of the newly articulated policy -- includes working with the international community to replace instability and uncertainty by peace and economic progress in conflict-prone regions. He cited U.S. efforts in Sudan and the creation last year of a newly independent South Sudan, as well as U.S. support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and support to the regional effort led by Uganda to confront the destructive Lord’s Resistance Army militant group. “Insecurity and conflicts rob young African of the opportunity for an education and a better life,” Carson said.

    He pointed out that one of the key elements of the new strategy’s fourth pillar -- promoting opportunity and development -- encompasses improving the health and well-being of African populations, with the U.S. government providing support to African countries in building efficient healthcare systems through such programs as the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the President’s Malaria Initiative. “Sick men and women cannot work or contribute to the growth of a nation’s economy,” Carson said. “They cannot serve in the armed forces or the police, and they cannot provide security for their families or their countries.”

    The Africa Center’s Senior Leaders Seminar series has taken place annually since 1999. Featured speakers scheduled for the 2012 session include the Honorable Brownie Samukai Jr, Minister of National Defense of Liberia, and the Ugandan Minister of Defense Dr. Crispus Kiyonga. The keynote address was delivered June 18 by Amanda J. Dory, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa Policy. (See related article: “Security Leaders Briefed on New U.S. Africa Strategy at Africa Center Seminar”)

    Watch the video of Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson  presentation

    During his Africa Center presentation, Carson also spent more than half an hour responding to questions from African security sector professionals, which took place under the Africa Center’s strict policy of non-attribution to ensure free academic discussion.
  • Security Leaders Briefed on New U.S. Africa Strategy at Africa Center Seminar


    View Photos of the Event WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) opened its annual Senior Leaders Seminar on June 18, 2012, in Arlington, Virginia, during which keynote speaker Amanda J. Dory, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa Policy, for the first time in public discussed the White House’s newly updated U.S. policy for sub-Saharan Africa.

    One of the Africa Center’s flagship programs, the two-week Senior Leaders Seminar is provided a forum for approximately 70 senior-level military officers, civilian security experts, and other government officials from 40 African countries, 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. The seminar was being conducted in a hotel in Arlington, Virginia, a few blocks from the Pentagon and downtown Washington, D.C.

    “This seminar comes at a very timely moment,” said Ambassador (ret.) William M. Bellamy, director of the Africa Center in his welcoming remarks. “The White House has recently released the new strategic approach regarding our policy in Sub-Saharan Africa. I am sure that we will have debates on it during the next two weeks.” White House on June 14 released the Obama administration’s new Strategy on Sub-Saharan Africa. (See related article)

    Bellamy said the 14th edition of the Senior Leaders Seminar also comes at a time when Africa as a whole is doing pretty well economically. The average growth rate for the last decade has been more than 5 percent, and there is a growing middle class on the continent. The steady and strong economic growth also gives Africans a new sense of confidence about the future.

    However said Bellamy, political reforms have not kept pace with economic growth. The recent military coups in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, as well as the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire show that governance remains a major challenge.

    “The great security challenge you will have to face over the next decade will have to do with governance,” he told the participants.

    Keynote speaker Dory, who coordinates the Pentagon’s African affairs policy, spoke for the first time since the White House issued its new strategic document regarding Africa.

    “This is my first chance to roll out the new Presidential Strategy for Africa,” she told the Senior Leaders Seminar attendees. “The opportunity couldn’t be better.”

    Building upon the new Presidential Policy Directive, Dory recalled the four strategic objectives for U.S. engagement in Africa, and provided an overview of U.S.-Africa relations, from the Department of Defense stand point.

    “The U.S. is more secure when our friends around the world are more secure. … The new strategy calls upon us to be proactive in Sub-Saharan Africa,” she said.

    Dory also said the U.S. government perceives Africa as a critical stakeholder in global security. She went on to detail U.S. government initiatives in helping its African partners to face security threats, especially from terrorist groups.

    Dory said the U.S. government is focusing on information sharing, reform of institutions, training, and capacity-building for African security forces. She said local governments and regional economics communities have the lead in this approach, and the U.S. administration is committed to providing a continuing support to its African partners in this regard. She finally emphasized that the American government prioritizes partnership with regional economic communities and the African Union.

    Speech by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa Policy Amanda J. Dory

    Following plenary session presentations, seminar participants were scheduled to work in small discussion groups facilitated by African, European and American academics and practitioners. Conducted under the Africa Center’s strict policy of non-attribution, these groups elicit lively and uninhibited discussion on issues such as military professionalism, transparency in defense budgeting, definitions of security that echo current African realities and challenges, and terrorist threats and responses in Africa. The three key pillars of the seminar – fundamentals of security and strategy in Africa; core areas in security studies; and current critical issues – are designed to help participants integrate a comprehensive definition of security; develop approaches for identifying and addressing the problems facing civil and military leaders in African democratizing countries; focus attention on the need for political participation, transparency, and military professionalism; identify the key challenges to enduring civil-military relations by highlighting a comprehensive framework; and demonstrate how national security goals and democracy are advanced by efficient management of civil-military relations.

    The Senior Leaders Seminar has been offered since the 1999. The program also includes special sessions on key security issues. This year, the seminar will feature Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, Honorable Brownie Samukai Jr, Minister of National  Defense of Liberia, and the Ugandan Minister of Defense Dr. Crispus Kiyonga.

    For more information about the Africa Center, visit www.africacenter.org.
  • White House Redesigns the Future of America’s Partnership with Sub-Saharan Africa

    obama_africaWashington, D.C. -“As we look toward the future, it is clear that Africa is more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community, and to the United States in particular,” said President Obama in a new Presidential Policy Directive on Sub-Saharan Africa signed today. The U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa sets forth four strategic objectives for U.S. engagement in Africa: (1) strengthen democratic institutions; (2) spur economic growth, trade, and investment; (3) advance peace and security; and (4) promote opportunity and development. Two of these objectives—strengthening democratic institutions and promoting economic growth, trade, and investment—will receive particular attention. “The United States will prioritize efforts to empower the next generation of African leadership,” said Obama. Source: The White House
  • Burkina Faso: Symposium on National Security

    burkinas_mapXSmallOn Tuesday, June 5, 2012, Ambassador Thomas Dougherty co-chaired the opening ceremony of a symposium on national security organized by the ACSS (Africa Center for Strategic Studies) in partnership with the Embassy of the United States in Burkina. The theme of the symposium was "Development of a National Security Strategy." It gathered representatives from the defense and security forces as well as civil society and the religious community.
  • Africa Warrant Officers/NCOs Share Best Practices, Professional Advice at Symposium

    (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Olufemi A. Owolabi) By Staff Sergeant Olufemi A. Owolabi U.S. AFRICOM Public Affairs

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    GARMISCH, Germany, Jun 1, 2012 – Nearly 30 representatives from more than 20 African partner nations gathered at an academic research center in southern Germany to share insights and learn from U.S. subject-matter experts during a Joint Warrant Officer and Senior Non-commissioned Officers Symposium (JWOS) May 21-25, 2012.

    Topics included the role of women in the armed forces, a growing trend in many African militaries. Other issues discussed included U.S. foreign policy in Africa; the role of senior NCOs; warrant officers (WOs), NCO and leadership support to economic development and in the context of humanitarian efforts; health care; and the future of Africa through 2020.

    The JWOS was organized and facilitated by U.S. Africa Command and the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS), based in Washington, D.C. The event took place at the facilities of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch.

    One of the participants said the symposium sparked an idea to organize similar events in Africa.

    "We will go back home and network and communicate with one another more," said Master Sergeant Donald Makita, Gabon Armed Forces. "I believe we all have the determination, and we will all go back and build a better NCO corps and a greater Africa."

    This is the third symposium held since the inception of AFRICOM and the largest ever. For the first time, the participants from Africa included nine women.

    The event was moderated by Command Chief Master Sergeant Jack Johnson Jr., U.S. Africa Command's senior enlisted leader; Professor Tom Dempsey, ACSS; and Dr. John F. Kelly, Associate Dean of ACSS.

    "The overall goal is for us to come together as colleagues and senior NCOs to talk about those things that affect our forces, whether it's health, welfare, morale, good order, discipline, or economic and medical conditions, based on making security even stronger among all our nations," said Johnson.

    "In any military, country, government and societies, it is about diversity," said Johnson. "Women bring something that men, quite honestly, can't bring."

    He added that bringing this diversity together, we have a stronger capability. Together, "we grow in strength and move forward."

    He described the symposium as successful from the beginning, with a natural rapport among the African participants. "Normally, in most forums, it takes time for people to come together before they start warming up to each other, but from the very beginning during the ice-breaker they were together chatting, talking, and they were sharing their experiences."

    In addition, Dempsey described the symposium as unique and a strategic communication tool for the U.S. and African NCOs and warrant officers. "I think this is an extraordinarily important event because senior NCOs and warrant officers play such a critical role in African militaries, and there are few venues for communicating with that critical audience on our part. That makes this event rather unique in my experience," said Dempsey.

    Throughout the symposium and during each break, the bond between the Africans strengthened as the level of engagement and discussions grew. At every opportunity, they posed and took pictures together.

    "That is what we do as senior NCOs. We recognize that we all have a bond. It doesn't matter wherever in the world we are," said Johnson. "We, as senior non-commissioned officers, NCOs, and the warrant officers, have a bond that I find as very unbreakable, so this has been a success. And it's going to keep getting better and better and growing."

    While focusing on fostering partnership with African nations and their NCOs, the event was organized to facilitate knowledge sharing among participants and subject matter experts through open discussions. Sharing first-hand experiences was one of the steps in helping develop African solutions to African problems.

    "We are learning just as much from our African partners," Johnson said.

    Michael Hryshchyshyn, of U.S. Africa Command's J5's Strategy, Plans and Programs Directorate, echoed Johnson. "We all have a lot to learn from one another because nobody has all the answers, but each of us brings a unique set of experience and education as we work together as a team, which, hopefully, will lead us to best solutions possible," Hryshchyshyn said.

    Warrant Officer Mahugnon Mathilde Kpota, Republic of Benin Army, takes notes during a briefing focused on confronting health challenges and building health capacity as part of the plenary session of the Joint Warrant Officer and Senior Non-commissioned Officers Symposium held in Garmisch, Germany, May 23, 2012. The briefing was delivered by Michael Hryshchyshyn and Bruce Zanin, both of the U.S. Africa Command's J5's Strategy, Plans and Program. More than 20 African nations were represented at the symposium, which was hosted and facilitated by U.S. AFRICOM and Africa Center for Strategic Studies. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Adam Gramarossa)

    Through the information-sharing session, participants who thought they were the only ones facing a certain challenge discovered that other countries are facing the same challenge. Other participants also offered recommendations for solutions.

    "One of the great things we are learning here today is that someone from the east is talking about a challenge they are having, and they are amazed to find someone from the west, central or south have had the same problems, and they have found ways of conquering those particular problems," Johnson said. "Today is not about solving those particular issues, but about understanding them."

    While talking about the U.S. Pandemic Response Program during the health-care plenary discussion session, Hryshchyshyn noted that it is important to collaborate with other governmental agencies when developing a response program. It is also vital that the plan be tailored to the needs of each African nation.

    "The plan that we have for the United States will be different from the plan for Senegal, or Cameroon," he said. "We need to work together in a more extensive manner. Pandemic influenza, such as avian influenza, doesn't know national boundaries. So not only do we need to work with governmental agencies in our own countries, we need to reach out and we need to work with other nations."

    Despite sharing their concerns about lack of development and education in some parts of the African continent, which could hinder collaboration, and whether their decision makers would be willing to execute some of the topics discussed, they were all optimistic about the future of Africa.

    Some first-time participants of the symposium described it as an eye-opening event.

    "I have learned a lot from this symposium - that I have a great role to play for my commander to achieve his goal and the mission of the military as a whole," said Warrant Officer Beatrice Maseray Bah, Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces. "We are the bridge between the commander and the men - down there [in the enlisted ranks]. We need to know the welfare of the men, and we need to know their needs and address them."

    According to Bah, "one of the briefings shed more light" on disaster response.

    "The briefing showed us some slides about what to do when there is a disaster," Bah said. "It even talked about how we can help civilians or soldiers when they are in trouble. So, before coming here, I never knew anything like that. I am now going back to educate my colleagues, who have not got the opportunity to come here, so that they too can start practicing some of these things. And I will also be by their sides helping so that we can be practicing some of these things together, just for our country to go forward."

    The class discussions culminated with a site visit. On May 24, the JWOS participants took a 15-mile trip to the village of Oberammergau, where the NATO School is located. At the NATO School, they learned about cultural diversity and NCO development in a diverse and multicultural environment.

    U.S. Army Colonel Mark Baines, Commandant, NATO School, welcomed them with opening remarks. Luxembourg Army Command Sergeant Major Claude Schmitz, NATO School command senior enlisted leader, gave them the command brief.

    Netherlands Command Sergeant Major Paul van Oosterhout, director of NCO program department at the NATO School, conducted the cultural diversity training with humor-filled video slides. He said the training's goal was to help participants to comprehend cultural diversity while working in an international setting. He emphasized three important factors that could help when working in a multinational environment such as NATO: "In order to get solutions and results in an international setting, you need to build on awareness, communication and patience," he said.

    Even though participants said various cultures, religion, languages and multifaceted issues separate them, this symposium has shown that they can work together despite their differences. And it has also created a bond and lasting friendships among them.

    Sergeant Major Ashalley Neequaye, Ghana Army, who was attending a U.S.-organized symposium for the first time, said he came to find out "why the United States is so interested in Africa."

    After the event, he said he now has a fuller understanding of the U.S. government's interests in Africa and much more. "Number one, I now understand that the U.S. interest is about partnership," Neequaye said. "It is about helping the Africans to find an African solution to the challenges and the difficulties that we are going through. Also, with the knowledge that I have acquired here about the protection of human security and disaster responses techniques, this is enough for me to carry home."

    After their trip to the NATO School, certificates were presented to the participants. On May 25, the enlisted female members broke for a separate meeting. The Africa Enlisted Women's Working Group was led by Major General Barbara Faulkenberry and moderated by Pamela Bellamy, of U.S. AFRICOM J-9 Strategic Communications. General Stacy Harris, AFRICOM, was also part of the Women's Working Group.

    GARMISCH, Germany - Pamela Bellamy, U.S. Africa Command J-9 (Strategic Communication), interprets while African enlisted women introduce themselves during the Africa Enlisted Working Groups as part of the 2012 Joint Warrant Officer and Senior Noncommissioned Officer Symposium held in Garmisch, Germny, May 21-25. During the session, nine enlisted women from Africa shared their stories, gender-related issues and experiences with Major General Barbara Faulkenberry, U.S. Africa Command logistics director. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Femi Owolabi)