STUTTGART, Germany – Sixteen military and civilian leaders from 13 African countries met with AFRICOM officials to discuss U.S. military involvement on the African continent during a visit to the U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany July 26, 2017.
This visit was part of the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies held at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
“Here’s a chance for our African partners to meet face-to-face with the Americans who are intimately and daily involved with designing and operating programs in support of their countries and continent,” said James Howcroft, PTSS course director at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. “I think the ability for both sides to break down all the communication barriers and have a face-to-face talk about what they really need to ensure AFRICOM’s intended help is effective and efficient.”
Offered twice a year at the Marshall Center, PTSS is a four-week resident program that provides advanced professional education to those charged with understanding and then reducing the scope and capability of terrorism threats. This class has 81 participants from 57 nations.
“I thought the AFRICOM visit was very necessary for us,” said Queen Ayenoya Ahangba, cell leader for the Directorate of Operations from the Defense Intelligence Agency in Abuja, Nigeria. “All of the presentations focused on Africa and dealt with specific information and issues beyond terrorism. We got specific answers, and they even told us where we can get assistance if we are facing some challenges when we get back home to our countries.”
This is the third time that PTSS participants from Africa have visited AFRICOM to ask questions and find out how the command supports its mission of a safe, stable and secure Africa.
“This engagement is a two-way discussion. While it’s a great opportunity to build understanding of the AFRICOM mission, we also want to hear from our African partners on their perspectives on challenges they face,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles Chmielak, AFRICOM’s academic branch chief. “This allows us to better understand their priorities and adapt our efforts.”
Participants heard about the many ways that AFRICOM carries out its mission from U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Tom Luckritz, branch chief of AFRICOM’s Multi-National Cooperation Center.
They also find out how AFRICOM supports the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 in Africa during the presentation on “Women, Peace and Security.” Signed in 2000, this resolution reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping and humanitarian response.
“The visit today has been an eye-opening experience,” said Ghana Armed Forces Maj. Kwesi Ahmed Adum-Atta, commanding officer of the Airborne Force at Burma Camp in Accra, Ghana. “I thought AFRICOM was only limited to military support in a peace keeping environment but their influence goes beyond just supporting the military.”
He is talking about the interagency presentations from agency representatives assigned to AFRICOM on U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
“I didn’t know that AFRICOM and these interagency organizations will go to the country and conduct training like on immigration processes and such,” Adum-Atta said.
The highlight for participants was when U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Michael Franken, AFRICOM’s deputy to the Commander for Military Operations, answered their questions.
“I was surprised by the frankness of all those who came to talk with us,” Adum-Atta said. “All of them were very frank and giving us details – a lot of information to process.”