KAMPALA, Uganda -- Military leaders from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa joined subject matter experts from a variety of government agencies at the 2017 East African Senior Defense Official/Defense Attaché Conference at the Speke Resort in Kampala, Uganda, Oct. 17-18. Discussions on strategies for regional peace and security of East African partner nations were highlighted.
The two-day event was hosted under the leadership of U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. David Furness, CJTF-HOA commanding general, who provided the opportunity for open dialogue to discuss the security environments of each country.“The goal of this conference is to synchronize all the efforts of each CJTF-HOA Defense Attaché and foster peace and prosperity in our partner nations,” Furness said. “We are specifically focusing our efforts in this conference on countering improvised explosive devices.”
Furness oversees the command’s efforts in countering violent extremism in East Africa, fostering regional security cooperation, strengthening partner nation defense capability, and building and maintaining U.S. strategic access in the region.
National Defense University speaker Dr. Shannon Smith, Professor of Practice and Director of Engagement, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, spoke to the crowd diving deep into a regional overview of East Africa to highlight unique issues each country is facing and how combined efforts can make an impact.
“According to the fragile states index, many of you are dealing with complex issues in some of the most fragile states in the world,” Smith said.
CJTF-HOA Defense Attaché’s from Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Seychelles each gave briefs on their respective areas of operation and current state of affairs.
British Army Col. Adam Crawley, CJTF-HOA director of plans and policy, led round table discussions following the briefings to encourage sharing ideas that develop command strategic guidance, plan military campaigns and operations and coordinate security cooperation activities within the Combined Joint Operations Area.
The second day focused on countering improvised explosive devices (C-IED).
“The IED is just as much a threat as the stray or aimed round from a rifle. IED awareness should be the first initiative of any capacity building effort, as the direct result will save lives and facilitate freedom of maneuver. The long term goal should be the incorporation of C-IED training into a soldier’s basic suite of courses during indoctrination and training,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Chad Houllis, citing a quote from Mike Solis, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Anti-Terror, Force Protection and C-IED Deputy Branch Chief.
The threat of IED’s will never go away. Identifying and addressing the conflict drivers is the best deterrent. Local factors that drive conflict include poor governance, energy scarcity, food insecurity, overpopulation, repressive security forces, joblessness and geopolitics. When these factors build up into insecurity and instability they lead to conflict and humanitarian crisis.
Ms. Leigh Caraher, Lead Humanitarian Assistance advisor from AFRICOM’s United States Aid for International Development Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, presented a regional humanitarian assistance update, addressing issues that have prevented access to some regions that desperately need their services.
The conference provided a deeper awareness for tough issues lacking a singular solution while emphasizing that all must work together to address complex issues that are central to fostering peace and prosperity in partner nations.