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NATO Parliamentarians visit AFRICOM Headquarters
More than 34 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Parliamentary Assembly visited U.S Africa Command headquarters at Kelley Barracks on Thursday, September 27, 2012, to gain a deeper understanding of the U.S. military mission in
More than 34 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Parliamentary Assembly visited U.S Africa Command headquarters at Kelley Barracks on Thursday, September 27, 2012, to gain a deeper understanding of the U.S. military mission in Africa.

The event featured briefings about the command's role in Africa and discussions about mutual concerns and common challenges facing NATO and AFRICOM.

Many member nations of NATO are involved in Africa. "It is important that we all have an understanding of our shared capacity on the continent of Africa," said Major General O.B. Mannon, AFRICOM Chief of Staff. "This can allow us to better coordinate efforts in the future."

One of the chief concerns of the parliamentarians was the coordination of efforts between the United States and NATO member countries when responding to crises in Africa.

"There is a history between some NATO member nations' efforts in Africa, they have ties and experience working in those nations," said Julio Miranda Calha, a vice president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and a representative from Portugal. "Basically, we don't need to have one country show up, if another country is already there providing support."

Michael Gapes, a representative from the United Kingdom, emphasized the importance of understanding the complexities of working with NATO nations with varying experiences in Africa.

"It is about us understanding the tasks, of when and where things can be done, and doing them together," said Gapes.

The NATO Parliamentarians are composed of delegates from 16 NATO countries, Russia and Ukraine. They serve as a link between the NATO Assembly and the parliaments of the NATO member nations. The members are also part of the NATO subcommittees on Tran-Atlantic Relations and the Future Defence Capabilities.

The visit to AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart was the last stop on a tour through Germany. Earlier in the week, they met with senior representatives from the German government in Berlin and NATO military leadership in Ramstein. This was their first visit to AFRICOM headquarters.

"The parliament draws attention to important issues of interest to NATO nations, like stability and security of African nations," said Calha. "This visit will help us be informed as we look towards the future and how NATO member nations work with the African Union."
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