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U.S. Africa Command Seeking Sustained Security Engagement
For African nations, the role of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) will be one of "sustained security engagement" as a more reliable partner across the continent, says Ambassador Mary Yates. <br /> <br />Before the creation of a separate military
For African nations, the role of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) will be one of "sustained security engagement" as a more reliable partner across the continent, says Ambassador Mary Yates. Before the creation of a separate military command for Africa, the United States' military and security engagements on the continent had been episodic, Yates said in a recent Washington Foreign Press Center briefing. "We were not there in a constant form." "We hope that we will be able to garner enough resources to be able to be a more reliable partner with the African nations," the veteran Foreign Service officer said May 12. "This whole-of-government approach that we have begun at the Africa Command is a good role model as well, and I'm finding great receptivity." Yates, who is the U.S. Africa Command deputy for civil-military activities, said the approach the command, which was created October 1, 2008, is taking will be to build the security capacity of its partners; promote strategic relationships; conduct civil-ilitary activities that foster stability; and provide crisis response. She said this does not mean the command will have all the resources and all the programs needed, but by concentrating on Africa, effective and workable partnerships can be created. Africa Command grew out of the U.S. European Command, which had responsibility for 92 countries in Europe and Africa. The new command focuses entirely on Africa, with the one exception of Egypt, which is still partnered with the U.S. Central Command. Yates said Egypt is still very much an African nation and actively participates in the issues and challenges of the continent. When AFRICOM was created, Egyptian officials were consulted on the U.S. approach. Yates said African militaries described what they wanted and expected from the new partnership: To be able to employ capable military forces. To strengthen their own security institutions. To be able to support international peace efforts and peacekeeping missions. To gain the ability and will to dissuade, deter and defeat threats. "Those are the repeated themes that the African military has told us, so that informed our thinking," Yates said. Coupled with the military cooperation is the expanded civilian cooperation through the command with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the State and Treasury departments, and other agencies, she said. "We're working with the military as they plan their theater security cooperation program so the programs are more effective, so the humanitarian assistance is more effectively allocated and in support of what USAID is doing on the continent and what the State Department is doing on the continent," Yates said. "What we want to do is find the African partners who are looking to build peace and stability in their nations and in their regions." A full transcript of Yates' briefing is available at http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=3009
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