Military Professionalism

PME institutions in Africa.

Military professionalism is a standard of conduct exercised by members of the armed forces to effectively provide security for citizens while upholding the values of service to the public, subordination to democratic civilian authority, allegiance to the constitution, political neutrality, and respect for the rule of law and human rights. Military professionalism is not the result of a single event but is a culture that must be constantly reinforced, refined, and perpetuated.


Creating a Culture of Military Professionalism in Senegal

December 6, 2023

Senegal’s culture of military professionalism has been the outcome of a deliberate and long-term effort to inculcate values of service, meritocracy, and respect for democratic values.

Xi Jinping inspects a military honor guard in Pretoria, South Africa.


China’s “Military Political Work” and Professional Military Education in Africa

By Paul Nantulya
October 30, 2023

China envisages professional military education in Africa as an opportunity to promote China’s governance model while deepening ties to Africa’s ruling political parties.


Oversight and Accountability to Improve Security Sector Governance in Africa

By Dan Kuwali
September 11, 2023

Oversight, accountability, and governance of the security sector are essential ingredients to a capable and effective force, mitigating infractions and contributing to a learning environment that improves future practices.


“Those You Work for Are the People”: His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma’s Keynote Address

June 7, 2023

Sierra Leone's former president draws on his country's post-war security transformation as a model for reforming Africa's security sectors to be more citizen centric.

Zanzibar's anti-riot police officers stand gaurd by a group of men sitting on the ground during an operation after the opposition called for protests in Stone Town, on October 29, 2020 as tensions rise while the results of the general election are being announced.


China’s Policing Models Make Inroads in Africa

By Paul Nantulya
May 22, 2023

China’s expanded police engagements in Africa could have potentially far-reaching consequences for African security governance.

Zambia president Hichilema


Zambia’s President Hichilema Says Security Requires Whole of Society Effort

May 8, 2023

Effective management of security resources is a pillar to security, good governance, and sustainable development—and a means of building trust in the security sector.

The Role of Parliamentary Committees in Building Accountable, Sustainable, and Professional Security Sectors


The Role of Parliamentary Committees in Building Accountable, Sustainable, and Professional Security Sectors

April 3, 2023

Parliamentary committees that oversee the security sector play an essential role in building accountable, sustainable, transparent, and professional institutions.


Deepening a Culture of Military Professionalism in Africa

December 20, 2022

Creating a culture of military professionalism requires instilling core societal values within all members of the armed forces. Such shared values have a powerful unifying effect on a military, amplifying force cohesion and effectiveness.


Strengthening Military Professionalism in Africa

By Col. (ret.) Émile Ouédraogo, Ph.D.
December 1, 2022

This updated synthesis of Dr. Emile Ouédraogo’s seminal “Advancing Military Professionalism in Africa,” reviews the principles, obstacles, and priorities for strengthening military professionalism in Africa.

MINUSMA Guinea contingent 3x2


Weapons Losses Fueling Africa’s Militant Groups

By Eric G. Berman
March 28, 2022

Loss of munitions and other lethal materiel from African armed forces and peace operations is a key factor sustaining militant groups driving instability on the continent.


Professional Military Education Institutions in Africa

February 25, 2022

Professional military education institutions aim to foster capable and apolitical militaries to uphold the constitution and serve democratically elected civilian leaders. To do so, however, they must be grounded in a culture that reinforces these values.

Party Militias—A Threat to Security and Military Professionalism


Party Militias — A Threat to Security and Military Professionalism

November 2, 2021

Ruling party militias in Africa are an increasingly employed tool to intimidate political rivals and keep populations in check—violating democratic rights and undercutting military professionalism.


Justice and Rule of Law Key to African Security

By Catherine Lena Kelly
May 25, 2021

The integration of justice initiatives within conventional security efforts can mitigate conflict, improve societal resilience, and build a stronger culture supportive of the rule of law.

The Sudanese Military’s Interests in Civilian Rule


The Sudanese Military’s Interests in Civilian Rule

By Joseph Siegle
March 23, 2021

Proactive management of the transition to civilian rule would afford the Sudanese military more stability, budgetary support, and professional benefits.

Sudan military in 2019


Reforming the Security Sector in Sudan: The Need for a Framework

By Luka Biong D. Kuol
November 2, 2020

Sudan needs a national security strategy to guide the reforms of its security sector from a tool of repression to sustain the old regime to a professional force that protects citizens under a democratic system.


China Promotes Its Party-Army Model in Africa

By Paul Nantulya
July 28, 2020

China’s party-army model, whereby the army is subordinate to a single ruling party, is antithetical to the multiparty democratic systems with an apolitical military accountable to elected leaders adopted by most African countries.

Post-Nkurunziza Burundi: The Rise of the Generals


Post-Nkurunziza Burundi: The Rise of the Generals

By Paul Nantulya
June 22, 2020

In Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza's sudden death has exposed power struggles within the ruling party and the ascendancy of the military.

Contrôle parlementaire dans le secteur de la sécurité : L’expérience ougandaise


Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector: Uganda’s Experience

November 28, 2018

In an interview with the Africa Center, Stephen Twebaze says that when MPs govern as representatives rather than political actors, even parliaments dominated by a ruling party can practice effective oversight.

Security Sector Stabilization: A Prerequisite for Political Stability in South Sudan


Security Sector Stabilization: A Prerequisite for Political Stability in South Sudan

By Remember Miamingi
May 29, 2018

In light of the complex nature of the security challenges facing the country—created in part by the blurred lines between security and political sectors—a short- to medium-term focus on security sector stabilization (SSS) is warranted.


Priorities for Security and Justice during Liberia’s Transition

By Alix Boucher
January 2, 2018

The incoming administration of Liberian President-elect George Weah will need to address numerous pressing challenges related to the country’s security and stability. This is all the more critical as the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) is drawing down and plans to depart the country in March 2018, after 15 years in country.

Lt. Col. Mademba Aliou Fall


Leadership from the Bottom Up: A Discussion with Lt. Col. Mademba Aliou Fall

November 28, 2017

"When you build a house, you have to start with the foundation." In an interview with the Africa Center, Lt. Col. Mademba Aliou Fall discusses the Senegalese Army's bottom-up strategy for developing leadership skills.

Pingrenoma Zagre


When Ethics Avert a Crisis: Two Cases from Africa

By Paul Nantulya
October 26, 2016

More often than not, African security institutions are designed to protect the regime, not the citizens. But there is a growing list of cases where leaders acted ethically to get democratic processes on track and ultimately save lives.


Resource Mismanagement a Threat to Security in Africa

By Paul Nantulya
September 7, 2016

Resources are always limited, even for advanced countries, but the problem in Africa is not resources per se. The problem is their misuse, says the Africa Center’s Assis Malaquias.

A Nigerian police officer collects N20 from a driver


Governance, Accountability, and Security in Nigeria

By Oluwakemi Okenyodo
June 21, 2016

Most of Nigeria's security threats require security forces—especially police—that are well-governed, respected, and have effective oversight mechanisms.

corruption free zone - kenya Photo: Babak Fakhamzadeh


Corruption: A Major Threat to Military Effectiveness

September 8, 2015

Corruption contributes directly to insecurity. It has a corrosive effect on combat readiness and effectiveness, undermining the ability to meet national security threats.


Why Armies Succeed or Fail: Questions of Morale, Discipline and Ethical Leadership

October 23, 2014

If an army does not believe in the cause it is called upon to fight for, and if it does not have faith in the organizations and institutions that generate its orders and directives, it will likely come apart when faced by determined and well-armed insurgents.

Advancing Military Professionalism in Africa


Advancing Military Professionalism in Africa

By Emile Ouédraogo
July 31, 2014

Clarifying mission, oversight and the relationship between soldiers and citizens can advance the professionalism eluding many African security services.

Africa’s Militaries: A Missing Link in Democratic Transitions


Africa’s Militaries: A Missing Link in Democratic Transitions

By Mathurin C. Houngnikpo
January 31, 2012

Institutionalization of democratic norms in Africa’s militaries often lags behind advances made in civilian institutions and civil society.