May 2011

  • Africa Center for Strategic Studies gathers Africans for Joint Warrant Officer Symposium in Washington, D.C.

    jwos_2011_02Click here to view photos from this event

    Warrant Officers (WO) and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) from 18 African countries gathered in Washington, D.C. at the National Defense University May 16-20, 2011 for a five-day symposium co-hosted by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS). Participants were exposed to a broad spectrum of U.S. Strategy and Security Assistance issues in Africa.

    ACSS has conducted the Joint Warrant Officer Symposium since 2010 to equip and familiarize Defense Force Warrant Officers and Sergeants Major in Africa’s security sector with tools to address the many security challenges they face, while also developing mutually beneficial relationships within and outside Africa. Symposium participants received the opportunity to develop a comprehensive understanding of the key threats and challenges that dominate the African security landscape, as well as a more detailed understanding of U.S. interests, policies, and programs oriented toward the continent. Distinguished policy-makers, security sector professionals, and academics served as speakers during the weeklong event.

    Michael E. Garrison, Deputy Director of ACSS noted during his welcoming comment that establishing and maintaining a continual dialogue between U.S. military leaders and their African partners is critical and congratulated the participants for being chosen to attend the symposium.

    The host of the event, AFRICOM's Senior Enlisted Leader Chief Master Sergeant (CMSgt) Jack Johnson thanked ACSS for sponsoring the symposium. “This is a great opportunity to listen and learn from each other. Communication is very important in our field,” he explained. CMSgt Johnson also thanked AFRICOM and ACSS staff for their efforts in making the symposium possible. U.S. Army Colonel Gene McConville, ACSS Senior Military Advisor to the Academic Affairs, presented an overview of symposium’s goals and objectives.

    The first day set the stage for the symposium by examining the evolving security, political, and economic issues dominating African policy dialogue from a U.S. perspective. Experts and scholars pointed out that the U.S. government is looking for African-led solutions to African problems. The U.S. also intends to enhance the capacity of African nations to conduct peace support operations in Africa.

    The second day of the program focused on providing a firm understanding of the contemporary global security environment. Topics covered included conflict, human security threats, and transnational threats and challenges, including terrorism. Day three focused on providing an overview of U.S. policy in confronting health challenges and building health capacity in Africa’s security sector. The African Union and regional economic communities’ roles in managing the continent’s security affairs were also discussed. Later in the afternoon, participants received instruction about the ACSS Community, and CMSgt Johnson presented a final program summary.

    Complementing the rigorous plenary sessions and discussions, participants traveled the next day to Marine Corps Base Quantico where they were briefed on various NCO military courses before visiting the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

    On Friday, a closing ceremony at the Pentagon officially concluded  the symposium. "You gave us a wonderful opportunity. We have learned a lot from each other," said Warrant Officer One Joseph Kithome, Sergeant Major, Kenya Defence Forces, speaking on behalf of the participants. He added that relationships they built during the thought-provoking symposium with fellow African officers and members of the American military will prove invaluable when they return to their home countries.

    After the graduation ceremony, participants toured the Pentagon, where approximately 23,000 U.S. military members and government civilians work. The tour also featured a stop at the Pentagon Memorial, where the 184 people killed on September 11, 2001 are honored. Sergeant Major Sidi Moctar Toure of the Malian Army said he was emotionally moved by the visit to the memorial, and asked for a minute of silence to honor those who lost their lives.

    After the Pentagon tour, participants headed to the U.S. Capitol where they met with Dennis Hertel, a former member of the House of Representatives. The former congressman from Michigan shared anecdotes, and discussed the Capitol’s history with the participants, and invited them to visit the floor of the House.

    Most of the African WOs and NCOs attending the symposium had never been to the United States. Sergeant First Class Ambroise d’Assise Mbaki Mbadji of Gabon’s National Gendarmerie said, “It is one of the best experiences of my career. It would be very good to come back.” All participants look forward to sharing what they learned with their troops and continuing to build the relationships they established over the course of the week.

    Participants at the symposium came from Botswana, Burundi, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

  • U.S. Air Forces Africa-Hosted African Air Chiefs Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    air chiefsClick here to view photos from this event. Opening ceremonies were held on April 26 at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the African Air Chiefs Conference. Approximately 150 participants attended the three-day conference, including 27 African Air Force Chiefs, the leadership from U.S. Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA), officials from U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM), and representatives from civilian agencies and regional organizations that deal with aviation issues. With the theme “Building Air Partnerships Across Africa,” the conference, a collaborative effort between AFAFRICA and the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS), provided a forum to foster strategic dialogue on improving air safety across the continent. Participants discussed key challenges in the air and security domain. They also identified ways to build on existing regional and international efforts to enhance cooperation and to develop innovative approaches to sustain strategic partnership. According to Major General Margaret H. Woodward, AFAFRICA Commander, “the conference [gave] us an opportunity to work together on issues that are most important to regional cooperation and stability." She said the Air Chiefs Conference will also “strengthen the personal and professional relationships that bring us together as airmen, colleagues, and friends, so that we are better able to build bi-lateral and multi-lateral air partnerships that benefit us all." General Woodward pointed out that mutual respect results from enduring regional partnerships, and added: “US Air Forces Africa emphasizes the importance of being a reliable partner, one with goals and programs that will be sustained over the long-term." [Gen. Woodward's speech] General Norton A. Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force and keynote speaker at the opening ceremony, said "this conference brings together a community of airmen who are connected by an appreciation of what airpower can do to present additional strategic and operational options for our national and coalition leaders and who are bound by a shared desire for stability, security, political viability, and opportunity for economic development in Africa." [Gen. Schwartz's speech] Dr. Monde Muyangwa, Academic Dean of ACSS welcomed the Air Chiefs attending the conference and presented ACSS’s mission and programs. She also pointed out that the feedback from the participants was critical and could help rectify problems, reinforce positives, and strengthen future programs. The conference had the format of plenary sessions on key sub-themes followed by round-table discussions with a question and answer period. One half day was dedicated to small breakout discussions on more operational issues targeting areas with specific mutual U.S.-African interest. The gathering in Addis Ababa was co-hosted by AFAFRICA, headquartered at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and supported by ACSS, located at the National Defense University at Fort Lesley J. Mc Nair, Washington, D.C.
  • Roundtable on Africa’s Information Revolution Examines Implications for Governance and Security

    technologyView more photos from this event by clicking here.

    Mobile phone technology and social media in Africa are dramatically transforming the continent from an information-scarce to an information-rich environment, said panelists at a roundtable on “Africa’s Information Revolution and the Implications for Governance and Security” hosted by The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS).

    Africa Center Director Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.) noted, “Africa is experiencing a tremendous information revolution, with an annual growth of more than 65% in the number of mobile phones in use in Africa since 2005. This reality is transforming the free flow of information across the continent.”

    Watch the full speech of Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.)

    Steven Livingston, Professor of Media and International Affairs at George Washington University and author of the ACSS Research Paper “Africa’s Evolving Infosystems: A Pathway to Security and Stability” observed, “The rapid growth of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Africa affects the domains of security, accountability and economic development. Africa’s information revolution is helping people create new networks of information sharing.”

    Watch the full speech of Dr. Livingston

    Jonathan Gosier, Director of SwiftRiver at Ushahidi, a Kenyan non-profit software company that develops free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping, said, “The rapid decrease of prices for ICT devices in Africa has elicited more online participation and helps people self report what they see, allowing crowd-sourcing for crisis response.”

    Watch the full speech of Jonathan Gosier

    Eric Chinje, Head of the Global Media Program at the World Bank Institute, said, “In an effort to use technology to make information accessible to citizens, in 2008, the World Bank initiated the creation of a program called IMAGE: Independent Media for Accountability, Governance and Empowerment.” IMAGE is committed to building a robust and independent media sector in Africa that can provide society with the tools and information to hold government to account.

    Watch the full speech of Eric Chinje

    The panelists agreed that the Africa’s information revolution is changing the nature of tackling problems on the continent. When combined, mobile telephone and radio are creating new capabilities for collective action. They can serve as a broad distribution, participatory, media network with some of the same dynamics of the internet, but accessible to a much wider, and non literate audience. They are also an essential element in the process of creating a new system of security alerts in countries like DRC.

    Follow-up discussion focused on the challenges and opportunities brought by the development of ICT in Africa, including the demographics of African users, whether there is something inherent in the development of ICT that could solve the problems of instability, and if it could contribute to a leapfrogging in the development of African countries. Each of the panelists were optimistic that the growth of ICT would open new opportunities for collective action and achievement. This, in turn, could leverage policymakers to support programs in domains that benefit the general population.

    Watch video of the Follow-up discussion

    One major consequence of the Africa’s information revolution is that the balance of power is shifting. Power is being given to regular citizens, thanks to the technological change.

    More than 60 persons from the US government, academia, civil society and diplomacy took part in the event.

  • Author, Professor Discusses Civil-Military Relations, Democratic Governance in Africa

    Houngnikpo-africom02Bridging the gap between the military and civilians in order to democratize Africa was the topic of discussion by Dr. Mathurin C. Houngnikpo, who spoke to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) headquarters staff April 27, 2011, on Kelley Barracks.

    Houngnikpo, a professor and academic chair of Civil-Military Relations at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, addressed command staff on "Civil-Military Relations and Democratic Governance in Africa," as part of the Commander's Speaker Series, an initiative to bring speakers with diverse viewpoints to the command to share ideas and thoughts.

    "Civil-militaryrelations is very close to my heart because of my time in the Army," he said, "I didn't like the military until I started doing research for my dissertation and when we had a national conference in Benin. That's when I realized how critical the military is to Africa and to African democracy. "  [READ MORE]

    Source: U.S. Africa Command

  • Introduction to African Security Issues Seminar Expands Knowledge of US Security Practitioners

    ASIClick here to view more photos from this event.

    The Africa Center’s 2011 Introduction to African Security Issues 4-day seminar was attended by nearly 40 participants from various U.S. government institutions including the Departments of Defense, State, and Agriculture. Participants chose to attend the seminar in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the key threats and challenges that dominate the African security landscape as well as a more detailed understanding of U.S. interest, policies, and programs towards the continent. All participants work on some aspect of U.S.-Africa security policy; many have previous experience on the continent.

    Following an overview of the Africa Center’s mission and programs, participants spent a day discussing Africa’s history and politics, as well as the economic challenges the continent faces.

    Dr. Gwendolyn Mikell, from Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, reviewed Africa’s five cultural zones and the legacies of colonial rule. Dr. Joseph Siegle, Research Director at the Africa Center, discussed governance trends on the continent and current trends in democratization. Siegle and several other presenters observed that 2011 is being hailed as “the year of elections in Africa.”

    Dr. Todd Moss of the Center for Global Development discussed the impact of the global economic crisis on Africa and the macro and micro constraints on the continent’s economic development.

    The second day of the program focused on providing a firm understanding of the contemporary African security environment. Topics covered included conflict, human security threats, and transnational threats and challenges, including terrorism. Day three focused on providing an overview of U.S. policy towards Africa. Speakers were drawn from AFRICOM, the Africa bureau at the U.S. Department of State, and the Office of African Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense. There was also a discussion of the role that the African Union and regional economic communities are playing in managing the continent’s security affairs. The final day of the program focused on explaining the role of other actors on the African continent, including the United Nations, the European Union, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), and non-governmental organizations.

    Participants left the 4-day seminar with a much better understanding of the political, social military, and economic aspects of security in Africa.

    The Africa Center will continue to reach out to these and other program participants to build upon the dialogue and to foster a sense of partnership.

  • African and International Participants Gather in Senegal to Explore Comprehensive Solutions to Challenges of Radicalization

    ctdakar052011 [ VIEW PHOTOS OF THE EVENT]

    Closing ceremonies were held on Friday, 15 April, in Dakar, Senegal, for an Africa Center for Strategic Studies-hosted workshop titled “Preventing Terrorism: Developing Comprehensive Solutions to the Challenges of Radicalization.” The workshop was co-hosted with the Government of Senegal’s Ministry of Defense.

    The Africa Center, working with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, organized the April 10-15 workshop, with 64? participants exploring comprehensive solutions to the challenges of radicalization and violent extremism in Africa.

    Participants represented Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, the U.S., UK, the Netherlands, and Norway. African attendees included security, development, and other civilian officials representing a number of ministries, including foreign affairs, development, education, youth, employment, religious affairs, culture, communications, defense, home affairs, interior, national security, and justice.

    Also attending were representatives from the United Nations, African Union, European Union, Economic Community of West African States, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and World Bank. Representatives from nearly a dozen NGOs and civil society actors also participated.

    Addressing the participants at the opening ceremony on Monday, 10 April, were Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.), Director, Africa Center for Strategic Studies; Ambassador Robert F. Godec, Principal Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State; Ambassador Marcia Bernicat, U.S. Ambassador to Senegal; and Maître Ousmane Ngom, Minister of State, Minister of the Interior, on behalf of the Government of Senegal. 

    RADICALIZATION WORKSHOP  

    “We come here,” Ambassador Bellamy stated, “knowing that it is not enough to focus simply on the effects of terrorism and on suppressing them.  We also know that an overly simplistic focus on the root causes is insufficient – for example, drawing simple correlations between poverty, political repression or social exclusion on the one hand, and extremist recruitment and terrorism on the other.” Ambassador Bellamy further elaborated by saying that, “what we know today is that the factors leading to radicalization, violent extremism and eventually terrorism are complex.  They require the attention of wide range of actors, both civilian and military, both governmental and non-governmental. They require international action, since the sources of radicalization may be specific in some societies, but can also flow swiftly across borders and through globalized media networks.”

    Ambassador Godec noted that “military power, intelligence operations and law enforcement alone will not solve the long-term challenge. More force is not going to prevent young men and women from embracing violence as a solution to political and social problems.  Rather, they need viable alternatives to vent their frustrations, satisfy their ambitions, and to challenge injustices using peaceful means.”

    Ambassador Godec continued by stressing that the participants will discuss ways of “developing more holistic approaches within and between governments and civil society in order to address radicalization challenges. Through forums like this, we can begin to address these challenges more successfully and thus strengthen and increase the effectiveness of all of our activities.”

    U.S. Ambassador to Senegal, Marcia Bernicat, highlighted the United States’ partnership with the Government of Senegal in hosting this workshop in Dakar, where, she noted, participants would see the Senegalese approach to reinforcing societal resiliencies against radicalization.

    According to Dr. John Kelly, Associated Dean for Academic Affairs, participants concluded the workshop affirming the importance of working across security, development, culture, and communications sectors to respond effectively to the political, cultural, and socioeconomic factors and recruitment dynamics contributing to violent radicalization. Participants identified engaging Africa’s young people as a resource to be tapped, rather than as a threat to be managed, as a critical component to these efforts.