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AFRICOM Partners With African Nations to Promote Stability, Security
U.S. Africa Command works in partnership with African nations to help make the continent more secure against terrorism and criminal enterprises and to promote prosperity, a senior defense official said at a hearing before the U.S. House Committee
U.S. Africa Command works in partnership with African nations to help make the continent more secure against terrorism and criminal enterprises and to promote prosperity, a senior defense official said at a hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on July 15, 2008.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Reform Theresa Whelan said, "Stability and prosperity in Africa are important to the long-term interests of the United States, because a secure and stable, healthy, and more prosperous Africa will contribute to global security and a stronger world economy."

Many security challenges that exist in present-day Africa, such as terrorism and international criminal activity, are multinational and transnational in nature, Whelan pointed out. As a result, African governments increasingly are turning to collective security arrangements to meet the specters of terrorism and transnational crime, as well as the societal challenges presented by HIV/AIDS, other deadly diseases, and famine.

She added that the establishment of AFRICOM "represents an opportunity to strengthen and expand U.S. and African security relationships in such a way that our combined efforts can help generate more indigenous and therefore more sustainable peace and stability on the continent."

Its creation also reflects Defense Department's concerns that transnational terrorists may attempt to establish safe havens in Africa's more remote and under-governed regions.

According to Whelan, AFRICOM's military engagement on the African continent will remain primarily focused on building security partnership capacities, conducting theater security cooperation, building important counterterrorism skills, and, as appropriate, supporting U.S. government agencies in implementing other programs to promote regional stability.

Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates, AFRICOM's deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, who also testified at the hearing, echoed Whelan's sentiments. Yates is a senior State Department foreign-service officer who has served as ambassador to Ghana and Burundi.

AFRICOM is "a listening, growing and developing organization dedicated to partnering with African governments, African security organizations, and the international community to achieve the U.S. security goals by helping the people of Africa achieve the goals that they have set for themselves," Yates said at the hearing.

President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced the creation of U.S. Africa Command on Feb. 6, 2007. The decision was the result of a 10-year evaluation that acknowledged the emerging strategic importance of Africa, and recognizing that peace and stability on the continent affects not only Africans, but also the interests of the United States and the international community.
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