STUTTGART, Germany - Key leaders from NATO’s Operations Division met with AFRICOM staff to learn about the potential for partnering during an initial visit on Sep. 10 to AFRICOM headquarters, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart.
NATO, with a well established reputation as a leading contributor to peace and security on the international stage, was invited by the AFRICOM Multinational Cooperation Center, or MNCC, to discuss how the two organizations might work together to mitigate future crises on the African continent.
The MNCC is AFRICOM’s hub for multinational cooperation. It is primarily responsible for integrating international partners into staff processes that inform strategic planning and operations.
NATO’s three essential core tasks are collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security. It is in the arena of crisis management where both AFRICOM and NATO see the potential to work together.
“This is the first staff exchange between NATO and AFRICOM,” said Michel Soula, head of all NATO operations but Afghanistan. “I’ve seen a commonality of subjects raised and from the start I could see we were on the same page. We want to achieve the same goals.
“I’m impressed that in seven years, this command has developed a deep knowledge of Africa,” said Soula. “We have a lot of connection with the African Union, and we see opportunities to grow crises management capability with AFRICOM as a partner.”
“We facilitate engagement that strengthen partnerships,” said U.S. Army Col. Tony Curtis, head of MNCC. “Certainly, leveraging partner knowledge and capabilities is an important component of that.
“Operation United Assistance in Liberia helped us to recognize certain vulnerabilities – this directly led to several improvements in how we work with international partners,” said Curtis. “We’ve developed 18 specific capabilities designed to more closely link our partners to decision-making processes here at AFRICOM. The results have been very promising thus far.”
“This is a spring-board for us,” said Theodora Adekunle, who is from the United Kingdom and serves as a NATO political advisor. “From this visit, we now have a clearer picture of AFRICOM intent, especially with regards to institution building. We often rub up against each other so we are here to compare notes on the areas in which we can coordinate efforts.”
“Today’s focus is on current operations and activities in Africa,” said Curtis. “Events such as our staff exchange with NATO make it possible to build relationships now, and to share information, ideas, and intent before a crises emerges - so that when the next OUA occurs, we’re not working together for the first time. We think this approach will significantly increase our chances for success in the future.”