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Academics Gather to Offer Opinions and Recommendations with U.S. Africa Command
More than 40 recognized academics gathered at the National Conference Center in Landsdowne, Virginia June 9-11 for an Academic Symposium, which introduced the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to the broader U.S. academic community and provided a forum
More than 40 recognized academics gathered at the National Conference Center in Landsdowne, Virginia June 9-11 for an Academic Symposium, which introduced the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to the broader U.S. academic community and provided a forum for plenary groups and discussion.

The three-day event was launched by the Warfighter Support Office of the Business Transformation Agency, in cooperation with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

Ambassador Mary Yates, deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, AFRICOM, provided an overview of the command's structure and interagency integration, noting the value that members of the academic community can bring through their expertise and recommendations.

In her keynote speech, Yates said, "We will decide at the end of these three days ... if there's a formalized or informal role we should have with each other. ... We all know how important it is for nations to have stability so there can be more economic prosperity. I truly believe this is the goal we're headed to, and we don't have it all figured out."

She added, "We are learning and evolving, and we are looking for your advice."

Following a plenary session focused on U.S. strategic policy toward Africa, symposium participants were broken into five discussion groups, where they developed a set of recommendations on the best way forward for U.S. Africa Command.

During the final plenary session, Africa Command officials reviewed the recommendations, provided initial reactions, and committed to continued dialogue with academia as the command progresses.

The academics in attendance, each with expertise in a broad range of Africa-related disciplines, expressed appreciation for the opportunity to engage directly with senior leadership and to provide feedback. They left the symposium with a deeper understanding of AFRICOM and its operations. Africa Command leaders, in turn, were able to learn from the expertise of this community and take away important suggestions for consideration.

Business Transformation Agency (BTA) is responsible for Department of Defense-wide business transformation initiatives and provides business solutions to critical warfighter requirements. As the Department of Defense evolves to support government-wide initiatives with a collaborative approach, its Warfighter Support Office will actively support BTA's mission in the expeditionary environment to transform business operations into warfigthing capabilities. For more information, visit the BTA Website http://www.defenselink.mil/bta/.

The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) supports the efforts of the Department of Defense and other U.S. agencies to counter ideological support for terrorism, foster regional cooperation on security issues, promote democracy and assist African nations in improving their security and strengthening their defense establishments. For more information on the ACSS, visit http://www.africacenter.org/.
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