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Africa Theater Security Working Group Begins Weeklong Conference in Germany
Approximately 300 personnel and family members of U.S. government offices working across Africa met March 17, 2008, in the Bavarian town of Oberammergau for the first U.S. Africa Command Theater Security Working Group and Quality of Life Working
Approximately 300 personnel and family members of U.S. government offices working across Africa met March 17, 2008, in the Bavarian town of Oberammergau for the first U.S. Africa Command Theater Security Working Group and Quality of Life Working Group conference.



The week-long conference brings together U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) members, key U.S. government stakeholders, and numerous interagency partners in a forum designed to promote in-depth discussion on security engagement activities in Africa. Participants include members of the Department of Defense, Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, military service components, and Defense Attaches and Office of Defense Cooperation chiefs serving across the African continent.



The intent of the conference is to synchronize and align military service component and stakeholder activities with the command's strategic objectives and priorities for the upcoming fiscal year, establishing a critical foundation for future U.S.-led security cooperation activities and programs on the continent.



Guests were welcomed at the afternoon plenary session by U.S. Army Major General Herbert "Buz" Altshuler, director of the Strategy, Plans and Programs for Africa Command. Additional speakers included Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates, U.S. Africa Command deputy for civil-military activities; Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, U.S. Africa Command deputy for military operations; Carrie Thomson, director of East African affairs for USAID; Michael Bittrick, deputy director, Office of Regional and Security Affairs, Africa Bureau, Department of State; and Dan Pike, Office of the Secretary of Defense policy.



Moeller emphasized the importance of a long-term approach by the Department of Defense in regard to military security assistance on the continent. "This effort takes a tremendous amount of dedication and persistence over a long period of time," he stated, "or, in other words, sustained security engagement. We need to work with our African partners to give them the skill sets they need, individually and collectively, to move all of their efforts forward."



As the day's closing speaker, Yates presented her comments under the construct of "why Africa, why Africa Command, and why the Interagency." She underscored the critical contributions of the interagency process to the success of the command's future efforts, and gave personal thanks to the hard work and commitment of the DATTs, ODCs, and their spouses on the continent.



Approximately 25 spouses of Defense Attaches and Office of Defense Cooperation chiefs concurrently participated in the "American Families on the African Continent" Working Group to address issues of importance in regard to quality of life on the continent.



The conference was scheduled to continue through March 21.
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