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African Senior Foreign Military Leaders Get Educated on AFRICOM
Senior foreign military leaders from 18 African countries gathered in Washington D.C. the third week of May 2011 to participate in the second "Warrant Officer and Sergeants Major Symposium" hosted by the U.S. Africa Command with support from the
WASHINGTON D.C. - Chief Master Sergeant Jack Johnson, U.S. Africa Command's senior enlisted leader, speaks to participants of the Joint Warrant Officer/Sergeants Major Symposium, May 17, 2011.  Throughout the week, participants will discuss critical issues relating to African security. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Lieutenant Colonel Steven Lamb)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 3: WASHINGTON D.C. - Chief Master Sergeant Jack Johnson, U.S. Africa Command's senior enlisted leader, speaks to participants of the Joint Warrant Officer/Sergeants Major Symposium, May 17, 2011. Throughout the week, participants will discuss critical issues relating to African security. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Lieutenant Colonel Steven Lamb) Download full-resolution version
WASHINGTON D.C. - Senior foreign military leaders from 17 African countries gather in Washington, D.C. at the National Defense University May 17, 2011 to kick off a week long Warrant Offer and Sergeants Major Symposium co-hosted by U.S. Africa Command and the African Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS). Throughout the week, participants will discuss critical issues relating to African security. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Lieutenant Colonel Steven Lamb)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 3: WASHINGTON D.C. - Senior foreign military leaders from 17 African countries gather in Washington, D.C. at the National Defense University May 17, 2011 to kick off a week long Warrant Offer and Sergeants Major Symposium co-hosted by U.S. Africa Command and the African Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS). Throughout the week, participants will discuss critical issues relating to African security. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Lieutenant Colonel Steven Lamb) Download full-resolution version
WASHINGTON D.C. - Senior foreign military leaders from 17 African countries gather in Washington, D.C. at the National Defense University May 17, 2011 to kick off a week long Warrant Offer and Sergeants Major Symposium co-hosted by U.S. Africa Command and the African Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS). Throughout the week, participants will discuss critical issues relating to African security. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Lieutenant Colonel Steven Lamb)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 3 of 3: WASHINGTON D.C. - Senior foreign military leaders from 17 African countries gather in Washington, D.C. at the National Defense University May 17, 2011 to kick off a week long Warrant Offer and Sergeants Major Symposium co-hosted by U.S. Africa Command and the African Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS). Throughout the week, participants will discuss critical issues relating to African security. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Lieutenant Colonel Steven Lamb) Download full-resolution version
WASHINGTON D.C. - Chief Master Sergeant Jack Johnson, U.S. Africa Command's senior enlisted leader, speaks to participants of the Joint Warrant Officer/Sergeants Major Symposium, May 17, 2011.  Throughout the week, participants will discuss critical issues relating to African security. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Lieutenant Colonel Steven Lamb)
WASHINGTON D.C. - Senior foreign military leaders from 17 African countries gather in Washington, D.C. at the National Defense University May 17, 2011 to kick off a week long Warrant Offer and Sergeants Major Symposium co-hosted by U.S. Africa Command and the African Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS). Throughout the week, participants will discuss critical issues relating to African security. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Lieutenant Colonel Steven Lamb)
WASHINGTON D.C. - Senior foreign military leaders from 17 African countries gather in Washington, D.C. at the National Defense University May 17, 2011 to kick off a week long Warrant Offer and Sergeants Major Symposium co-hosted by U.S. Africa Command and the African Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS). Throughout the week, participants will discuss critical issues relating to African security. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Lieutenant Colonel Steven Lamb)
Senior foreign military leaders from 18 African countries gathered in Washington D.C. the third week of May 2011 to participate in the second "Warrant Officer and Sergeants Major Symposium" hosted by the U.S. Africa Command with support from the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. "One of the primary purposes of this symposium is education," according to AFRICOM's command Chief Master Sergeant and Senior Enlisted Leader Jack Johnson. In order to meet this goal, the symposium, held at Fort McNair's National Defense University, focused on a plethora of topics in a non-attribution environment. U.S. President Barrack Obama said in his address to the Ghanaian Parliament on July 11, 2009, "Africa's future is up to Africans." He went on to outline his vision for the U.S. Government's relationship with African partners. This general guideline was further synthesized and codified later that year when Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson stated during his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that there are five areas, or "pillars," where the U.S. government would focus its effort: 1. Support to strong and stable democratic institutions and promoting good governance 2. Support to economic growth and development, which means free markets and fair trade. 3. Strengthening public health 4. Preventing, mitigating and resolving armed conflict 5. Addressing transnational threats A primary focus of this symposium according to Johnson was to, "familiarize our African partners on U.S. Policy towards Africa by providing overviews of DoD and its policies and programs in Africa." Following comprehensive briefings and discussions, the African Warrant Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers were challenged to take what they had learned back to their militaries. AFRICOM's mission states, "United States Africa Command, in concert with other U.S. Government agencies and international partners, conducts sustained security engagement through military-to-military programs, military-sponsored activities, and other military operations as directed to promote a stable and secure African environment in support of U.S. foreign policy." A much abbreviated version of this mission is a mantra that echoes the idea behind the President's earlier statement and can be heard in nearly every AFRICOM engagement: "Helping Africans to find African solutions to African problems." To that end the command was designed to be a joint planning headquarters, currently located in Stuttgart, Germany. "No challenge on the continent of Africa is military pure; therefore, why would you build a military only command to engage?" asked U.S. Air Force Colonel Chase McCown, deputy commander AFRICOM Liaison Office (Pentagon) during his Africa Command Overview briefing, "So our command is built with the interagency, the whole of government, as part of it." He continued to elaborate that the commander is a four star general; the deputy commander for military operations is a Navy three star admiral; and the deputy to the commander for civil military affairs is a seasoned career diplomat and former ambassador. "Africa has got a lot of challenges," according to Command Sergeant Major Gilbert Seretse who serves in the Botswana Defence Force. "The most important thing that I will take back home is to share with my NCOs all the experience that I've got from this seminar here, the U.S. strategy on Africa, the security that the U.S. wants us to learn from what they are doing for us in Africa." The symposium was broken down into five plenary sessions, each with in-depth briefings by subject matter experts in particular fields of study and each with specific objectives. Sessions were offered predominantly in French and English and on occasion Portuguese and Swahili. to accommodate all participants. Topics of discussion included: U.S. strategy and security assistance in Africa, peace operations and the African Standby Force, terrorism and transnational security threats, non-traditional security challenges, and confronting health challenges to develop human capacity. U.S. strategy and security assistance in Africa With the backdrop of the U.S. government's five pillars, Michael Bittrick, deputy director of security affairs for the Office of Regional and Security Affairs in the Africa Bureau of the U.S. Department of State, made use of Foreign Policy Magazine's Failed States Index 2010 to characterize and codify one way in which political and economic scientists can portray "state weaknesses, country fragility" or "conflict potential" across the continent. The color-coded map indicated, via hues of red, one third of the continent is considered "critical," one third "in danger," and one third as "borderline." This gauging is intended to highlight those countries in which there is an increased level of potential conflict due to various political, economic or local factors. According to Bittrick changing those colors to more favorable hues of green are a focus every day at the State Department. As progress is achieved and stability improves, economies can then develop, as well as increased educational opportunities. According to Bittrick, key priorities for U.S. security assistance in Africa include: Security Sector Reform / Defense reform, supporting African peacekeeping, improving maritime security, building capabilities to counter violent extremism and other transnational threats such as narcotics, illegal trafficking of persons and non-proliferations. While the Department of State sets these priorities, it is through symposiums and other such activities that AFRICOM does its part as the key implementer of those policies. In his briefing, "U.S. Defense Policy Towards Africa," David Radcliffe from the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs further explained that because instability in Africa also impacts the United States, certain national security issues are always a consideration. Whether it is protecting American lives or fostering democracy and good governance, U.S. government involvement across the African continent is backed by a policy that promotes stability, mitigates crises and meets global challenges. U.S. foreign policy in Africa, therefore, focuses on a whole of government approach addressing the strengthening of democratic institutions and rule of law, partnerships, and developing human capacity. The military aspects of that policy focus on building African nations' capacity through short-term engagements and leveraging regional and multilateral institutions. Peace operations and the African Standby Force Recent conflicts in Africa have increased the demand for peacekeepers throughout the continent. The service members assembled at the symposium were representatives of militaries that either already participate in African peacekeeping activities or are working towards that goal. Dr. Paul Williams, associate professor of International Affairs and associate director of the Security Policy Studies program at George Washington University, and Scott Fisher, regional operations manager for the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program, provided this briefing. At the 2005 United Nations World Summit it was determined that each state has "the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity" as well as "their incitement" (para.138). And should any state be found to be "manifestly failing to protect their populations" from these four crimes, the world's governments who participated in the summit committed themselves "to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter" (para.139). The United Nations and the African Union both play a role in managing different peacekeeping operations in Africa. While the number of African peacekeepers has consistently increased since 2000, "out of the 53 AU members, plus Morocco, the vast majority of the burden for carrying peacekeeping contributions has fallen to a relatively small number of states--seven to eight African countries," according to Williams. The ACOTA program may help to improve these numbers over time. Fisher shared that ACOTA's policy is to "enhance the capacity of African partner nations to conduct peace support operations in Africa," and they accomplish this by: training and equipping African peacekeepers, training African peacekeeping trainers and supporting National Peacekeeping Training Centers and they sustain the capacity of African partner nations to train, equip and deploy peacekeepers over the long term. ACOTA programs are geared to be collaborative, adaptive, and responsive, making use of partnerships with governmental and international organizations to deliver effective peacekeeping training which is tailored to meet the needs of each ACOTA partner nation . Currently there are 25 African nations participating in the ACOTA program, all of which are transparent in governmental decision-making, preventing human rights abuses and are attempting to deploy peacekeepers. Terrorism and transnational threats Terrorism and transnational threats have long been a concern of the United States even before events of 9-11. There is often debate in international circles as to how terrorism is defined. "Jessica Stern, in The Ultimate Terrorist, argued that terrorists were increasingly becoming non-political." According to Christopher P. Costa, a Department of the Navy civilian serving as an interagency coordination subject matter expert and complex and strategic planner assigned as a Deputy Squadron Director for the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, Virginia Beach, Virginia, "Some of these groups simply wanted to kill with apocalyptic fervor, meaning [killing] as many people as their capabilities permitted." Despite this debate, there is a clear link between terrorism and transnational security threats. Criminal activities such as corruption, trafficking of narcotics or other illegal goods, etc. are contributing to the financing of terrorism and those organizations that thrive on violent extremism. The challenge here is defining which activities belong on such a list of threats and determining the shared issue that make them a single coherent category, according to Dr. Benjamin P. Nickels, an assistant professor of Transnational Threats and Counter-Terrorism. Nickels stated that "it's important to find a way to think about transnational security threats in order to grasp the level and type of dangers they pose and to think strategically about solutions to this." Nickels said that the qualifiers determining whether an activity is placed on the list include "threats by non-state actors, threats that endanger the human security of many nations, or threats that cannot be solved by one state acting alone." These elements alone don't provide a strong means of conceptualizing transnational security threats as a whole so Nickels recommended that the best way to consider them "through the frame globalization… in general it refers to the intensification of worldwide social relations which truly began in the 1990s and continues today." This is characterized by "worldwide integration at many levels like economics, transportation, communications demography, culture, society etc." Therefore, Nickels proposes that, "seen from this angle, transnational security threats are the dark side of globalization; they are threats that have metamorphosed through globalization. Threats by non-state actors that have been empowered by globalization." Combating terrorism and transnational security threats create a set of circumstances where alliances among partners could come at a cost. Costa shared the historical account of the Roman conquest of the Tuetoburg Forest in 9 A.D. where three Roman legions were ambushed and annihilated by their German partners. While partnerships are critical to engaging regional threats history has taught the need for close monitoring of these relationships. Recognizing transnational threats as regional as opposed to local creates the conditions through which regional partners can disrupt those activities which will then impact the ability of terrorists to finance their activities which then helps the global community. Nickels described his own method of viewing the countering of transnational security threats through "the lens of globalization" where he used three key transitional threats appearing in more than three sub regions of the continent to substantiate his position: international terrorism in eastern and northern Africa, drug smuggling in the west and human trafficking in the south. Countering these transnational security threats requires a global response entailing consensus among partners, action on many levels and tailored cooperation to address specific requirements. Non-traditional Security Challenges and Health related issues Along with armed conflict, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, maritime insecurity and piracy, terrorism, and transnational crimes such as human and drug smuggling, the symposium syllabus also included threats to broader human security such as, "the impact of climate change and environmental degradation on political stability and security, threats to food and health security as well as vulnerabilities caused by migration from rural to urban areas and migration of displaced persons." The document further explains that in order to combat these non-traditional threats, "determined leadership... and perhaps more importantly, strategic planning and international support," are required. In order to set the stage for a conversation on how and when non-traditional threats can be addressed, it was first necessary to delve into the reasons they may have not been addressed in recent African history. Georgetown University's Dr. Herbert Howe, assistant professor of African Studies, addressed the history of military coups in Africa, describing the military as a "fist" with which leaders of newly independent nations, many still lacking functioning parliaments, were forced to contend. Money and a lack of external enemies at the time (1950s and 60s) made new leaders question need for such military organizations along with a lack of trust in the military leadership's loyalty to new governmental leaders. Such concerns led Togo's former President Epiphanio Olympio to determine he didn't need the "fist" and that 80% downsizing was required. This decision led to his assassination, the first of many coups across the continent. The threat of military coups become an instant reality justifying many subsequent African nation leaders to develop their own presidential guards who then competed for resources and responsibility with the military establishments still in existence. The recent history of Africa is rife with such instances until the 1990s when democratization began to take hold. According to many historians, authoritarian regimes have militaries that are more interested in protecting the regime than the security of the people. Howe proposed that military professionalism might be directly related to the type of government it supports. "Can we say that democracies make for better militaries or that authoritarianism makes for better militaries?" asked Howe. "What's the connection between the type of political rule you have and the type of military you have?" "In the theoretical sense, people will argue that many of the most operationally capable militaries in the world, not the biggest necessarily but the most operationally capable, may be countries where there is some form of democracy." Howe also discussed "R2P" or the Responsibility to Protect, where the OAU, a collection of sovereign African states, determined that there should be no interference in another sovereign state's affairs; a viewpoint that has been changing over time. "In order to enjoy the rights of sovereignty you've got to improve human security; you've got to help all of your citizens and you can't single out one single ethnic group" said Howe. Now the AU has determined that in some cases, without a leader's permission, the outside world can come in so that another Rwanda or other hot spot might not occur again. These sorts of decisions now offer other nations the opportunity to consider intervention when it might be deemed appropriate. Howe went on to explain that by professionalizing the military, their skills may be used to help develop human security while focusing on their primary mission of securing the state. He used Senegal as an example where the medical corps within the military has provided assistance to the civilian populace. Health concerns are another major challenge for African militaries. Due to improved deployablity of African militaries, it has become increasingly difficult to prevent the spread of diseases in many African nations. This adversely affects militaries and their abilities to deploy those forces on future peacekeeping missions. It is increasingly important to ensure that African military leadership has a clear understanding of the threats their forces face both on and off the battlefield. Jeronimo Augusto talked about health as a topic of non-traditional security. Augusto is a PhD candidate in public health who specialized in Community Health Promotion & Education. With 16 years of Public Health experience in the areas of STD/HIV/AIDS/TB/SRH and having worked in 10 developing African nations, he offered valuable perspectives on public and military health. Africa has made great strides in combating diseases, but there is much work yet to be done. Educating the military on healthy living practices can also improve the welfare of civilians, as service members return to their homes and share their knowledge. "Health is not about change but rather exposure to other ways to living healthily," said Augusto. He stated that one billion people in Africa lack healthcare systems. "There are over eight million children under the age of five that die from malnutrition and mostly preventable diseases annually," according to Augusto, "and UMA's 2008 estimate says 33.4 million people live with HIV and AIDS globally and there were an additional 2.7 million new infections in 2008 and another two million deaths from AIDS and AIDS related diseases just in 2008. Tuberculosis that kills 1.3 million people each year and there are an estimated 9.4 million new cases a year. 1.6 million people still die from bacterial infections every year." Malaria is even worse with 243 million acute illnesses annually and 863 thousand deaths. Bad health, the head of household becoming ill for example, can have devastating effects on a family and the nation. When the head of household can't work then they can't provide for the family. The children might be forced into the workplace, where they could likely be abused due to lack of maturity and experience. Women might be forced to turn to the sex trade for income which could lead to other health maladies. Additionally starvation, loss of homes and the selling of children are other potential outcomes from such circumstances. Augusto provided another perspective using the influenza virus as an example. There are those in Africa who may not want to invest in vaccinations due to the expense. Someone might perceive the danger of the Flu virus as minimal, thinking, "If I get sick I will get a shot and it will all be better. The Flu came last year, it will come again next year." Changing the perspective would be to realize that if you contract this virus you cannot go to work, if you are paid for the days you do work then you won't be paid so the perception of the impact of the Flu virus changes from physical discomfort to a negative financial impact and thus heightens the perception of danger. Preventive measures then don't seem so unrealistic. "So, how you look at health, at this point is very important," Augusto said in closing, "but more so how you perceive that health risk to be is of greater importance." Confronting health challenges to develop human capacity "African security sectors must successfully overcome the various health challenges they confront if they are to meet the increasing set of expectations placed upon them at the national, regional and international levels" reads the seminar syllabus. "For example, the HIV prevalence among African militaries is from two to five times higher than in civilian populations and poses a challenge for both security and development." The African security sector has many players including: armed forces, police, paramilitary forces, gendarmerie (Headquarters of a French styled police unit), intelligence services, secret services, coast guard, border guards, customs authorities, national guards and presidential guards. Maintaining health in these differing, but related professions is critical for national and human security. Erik Threet, AFRICOM's Partner Military HIV/AIDS (PMHAP) program manager, explained that AFRICOM currently operates programs in 46 countries. His role at the symposium was to help senior leaders to determine how they might make a difference with their forces and be prepared to execute their military missions. "The objective of our Department of Defense HIV / AIDS program is to assist in the development and implementation of military specific and culturally focused HIV / Aids prevention care and treatment programs for our partner militaries," according to Threet. "We integrate these programs with other U.S. government programs that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) may be doing in your country as well as other university or non-governmental organizations may be working in your country." Threet went on to explain how at the combatant command level, the Department of Defense does not view HIV / AIDS strictly as a health issue but rather an issue that impacts security and stability and the ability of the nation to do their work within their nation or in support of external peace operations. The PMHAP's education and training includes prevention, care and treatment. The goals of the program are to ensure all partner militaries have sustainable prevention, care and treatment programs and that African partner nations are deployable in support of peace keeping operations. AFRICOM's specific focus is to eliminate HIV / AIDS as a threat to theater stability according to Threet. "All this really boils down to is ensuring that your militaries are ready to do the things your government requires of you as a military whether it protecting national borders or conducting peace operations," he said. Another example of these sorts of programs is the AFRICOM Disaster Planning and Preparedness Program or "DP3" which is designed to enhance the capacity of national and regional institutions to mitigate, prepare for and respond to disasters and to develop sustainable long-term relationships on the continent that enhance African capacity to address their own challenges related to disaster/crisis response. To make the program work there is a focus on the civilian agencies responsible for disaster planning and preparedness and the civil-military interface where military assets are used to support civil response plans. The goals of the program are simple: build relationships, leverage capabilities and provide resources to support the efforts of African nations in disaster preparedness. The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs addressed health as a capacity building effort according to U.S. Navy Commander Keith R. Givens who is currently serving as the assistant operations chief to OSD's International Health Division. IHD is a brand new division whose "job is to influence policy at the DoD level." By working with the COCOM and working with African partners to develop relevant policy. Givens highlighted that the "whole of government approach" is applied to design programs around host nations specific capabilities and needs to effectively carry out global medical training to assist in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Medical stability operations are not exclusive to one organization and the whole of government approach is critical if the programs are to be effective. Tailoring programs to the host nation allows planners to consider a plethora of issues including, population stress, health sector assessments, health and security, cultural aptitude, capacity building, civilian - military coordination, strategic communication and the commander's objectives. Rounding out the discussion on health, U.S. Navy Senior Master Chief Michael Arnold stressed that every service member, no matter their mission, should be trained on basic combat casualty care and preventive medicine. "If they are doing the right things, the civilians that they are working with, or working for, will pick up on those and then you are getting out to the population and if you teach the population how to do it right it will come back full fold and help you out across the board." Conclusion As the plenary sessions came to a close, Johnson offered every participant the opportunity to share their thoughts, perspectives, opinions and concerns pertaining to the symposium, the subject matter covered, and AFRICOM. Most expressed great appreciation for the effort put forth by both AFRICOM and ACSS in putting on this event. Many participants expressed that they never knew the issues they were grappling with as a military were not unique to their forces but actually common to the region or even across the continent. "My expectation was to come and hear from my African brothers and the American perspective on military involvement in Africa," said Liberia's Master Sergeant Manquet Cooper who serves as the senior enlisted advisor to the Battalion Commander, 1st infantry Battalion, 23rd Infantry Brigade. "I have learned how we are already partnered with AFRICOM, and from my African brothers, their view on the way things should be done in Africa." This was Cooper's third visit to America. Previously he attended the Sergeants Course at the Marine base Quantico in Virginia. "There are other ideas that I have got from here that I believe we can apply back home to improve our own system." Manquet continued describing how the Liberian Army was only five years old and how he firmly believed that in developing a proper foundation, through symposiums like this and other training opportunities, that his own forces would soon be able to deploy on peacekeeping. Sergeant Major Franklin Peters, a former alum of the Sergeants Major's Academy at Ft. Bliss Texas and the top non-commissioned officer of the Namibian Defense forces expressed, "My thoughts were that there would be a lot of different debriefings and subjects on military aspects but I didn't expect to go into these details in the military as well as health-HIV and the United States involvement in Africa up until now." He added that the interaction between the many African military representatives was the most important aspect of this symposium and expressed gratitude for the "billions of U.S. dollars" spent to help his military and other militaries across the continent. In wrapping up the plenary sessions of the symposium, ARICOM's Command Chief Master Sergeant Johnson said he thought "the conference went exceptionally well," and that "the biggest takeaway is these are very intelligent and competent leaders who actually seek the strategic within their own particular militaries. The great thing is they have taken some of the U.S. policies and they have taken some of the major issues effecting their people, in their countries, and they have taken it from a strategic level and [can] take that information and then be able to take it back and convey it to their particular troops." He added, "What I also thought was very beneficial was they don't often get the opportunity to talk to others from other countries and to share up thoughts and ideas." Sharing thoughts from each other will help them all in the long run because it is "about partnership, it's about stability; it's about taking care of their particular folks. This has been exceptionally beneficial for them and exceptionally beneficial for United States Africa command." The symposium's last few days in Washington included several tours. While at Marine Corps Base Quantico participants learned about the educational process of a Marine Sergeant from inception into the military through their senior most schooling. Tours were also provided to the National Monuments and the National cemetery in Arlington. Perhaps the most important visit was to the U.S. House of Representatives where they were briefed by former Michigan State Congressman the Honorable Dennis Hertel (D) regarding the United States' balance between military and civilian rule; a way of governance many African nations are just now coming to understand.
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