STUTTGART, Germany – A senior European Union military official visited U.S. Africa Command Headquarters, Sept. 11, 2018, to discuss the security and development challenges in Africa and how they affect European, U.S., and African partners.
Finnish Army Lt. Gen. Esa Pulkkinen, director general of the EU Military Staff (EUMS), engaged in conversations with AFRICOM leadership and staff members on joint military challenges in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, the Maghreb, and Central Africa.
During the visit, AFRICOM Commander, Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, hosted a discussion on shared U.S. and EU priorities in Africa. AFRICOM staff directors and other senior leads attended the discussion. Additionally, Pulkkinen met with Foreign Liaison Officers from AFRICOM’s Multinational Coordination Center representing various European, NATO, and Asian nations involved in Africa.
“Africa is important to the EU because of its geographical proximity to Europe,” said Pulkkinen. “Many challenges in Europe today, including terrorism, arms smuggling, drugs, and illegal migration are (have their root causes in) Africa.”
“Since its inception, the partnership between the United States and the EU in Africa has bolstered joint situational awareness, coordination, as well as synchronization of security efforts in Somalia, Central Africa Republic, the Sahel, the Gulf of Guinea, and the Lake Chad Basin,” said Army Col. Gabriel Chinchilla, U.S. liaison officer to the EU and NATO.
Africa also remains a primary focus for EU-sponsored security activities, which include nine civilian and military missions underway on or off the coast of the continent, according to Chinchilla.
“AFRICOM and EUMS are partnering to achieve shared security objectives and maintain a long-term approach which contributes to the conditions for development and good governance to take root,” Chinchilla said.
The EU military involvement in Africa includes military operations focused on maritime efforts to quell piracy off the coast of Somalia and to disrupt smuggler networks in the Mediterranean. The EU’s capacity-building military missions also encompass training missions with the partner security forces in Somalia, Central African Republic, and Mali, as well as, the buildup of security structures in those countries, according to Pulkkinen.
AFRICOM and the EUMS are connected in Africa in various ways, Pulkkinen said.
“One area where we have been working for many years is Somalia, where AFRICOM has its own contingency and where we have our own training missions,” he said. “We have contributed through training, and AFRICOM has (contributed with) equipping and also mentoring African partners.”
Pulkkinen’s visit serves to strengthen the bonds between the AFRICOM and EUMS, said Chinchilla.
“Achieving sustainable peace and security on the African continent is a top priority for the EU, which applies its ‘comprehensive approach’ to foreign affairs most actively in Africa, drawing heavily on assistance, diplomatic, financial, military, and capacity building tools to achieve its objectives,” Chinchilla said. “Through this AFRICOM-EUMS partnership and intertwining of security efforts, the U.S. and the EU, as well as EU Member States, are able to address and burden share on common security priorities.”
U.S. Africa Command continues its mission of working towards a safe, stable, and prosperous Africa, an enduring interest to the United States.