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AFRICOM Hosts Inaugural Meeting with Defense Attaches and Liaisons
More than 100 U.S. government specialists working in Africa met December 13-14 in Germany for U.S. Africa Command&#39;s first conference for defense attaches and offices of defense cooperation and liaisons. <br /> <br />The Defense Attache and
More than 100 U.S. government specialists working in Africa met December 13-14 in Germany for U.S. Africa Command's first conference for defense attaches and offices of defense cooperation and liaisons.

The Defense Attache and Office of Defense Cooperation/US Liaison Officers conference brought together participants working in 44 African nations for the Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. European Command, and other U.S. government offices. The meeting, in downtown Stuttgart, addressed the development of the new Africa Command and how to build closer cooperation among the many U.S. military offices that have been working in Africa as part of U.S. Embassy and diplomatic teams.

The attaches and U.S. government liaison officers received information about Africa Command which will enable them to better discuss AFRICOM with their African partners. The information provided will also facilitate coordination between U.S. embassies, diplomatic teams, and the command's headquarters.

In his opening remarks, General "Kip" Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, underscored the importance of AFRICOM as an organization which will add value to existing U.S. government efforts on the continent. Ward praised the hard work and expertise of the Africa-based defense officials as members of the AFRICOM team. "AFRICOM," Ward said, "will be better postured to deliver more effective security assistance programs in accordance with our national policy. We do that through an understanding of the environment in which we are working."

Topics of discussion included the continuing development of AFRICOM as a regional "command under construction," effective collaboration with country teams, and theater security cooperation activities. Guest presenter Peter Chaveas, a retired U.S. ambassador and director of the Washington D.C.-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies, provided an overview of the education and awareness activities conducted by the center.

The conference "was an excellent opportunity at this early stage in AFRICOM's development for those of us on the ground in Africa to become more familiar with AFRICOM's purpose," said U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Chris Wyatt, chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation in Liberia.

"As such, we can better understand our responsibilities in helping AFRICOM be successful," Wyatt said. He emphasized that "this is very exciting time for those of us in the military working in Africa, to be a part of the creation of a command focused upon security concerns on the continent."


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