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TRANSCRIPT: AFRICOM Director of Logistics Meets with Africa Center Senior Leaders Seminar Participants
On June 26, 2013, Brigadier General James Johnson, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Director of Logistics, met with 50 African security sector leaders currently attending the 2013 Senior Leaders Seminar program organized by the Africa Center for

On June 26, 2013, Brigadier General James Johnson, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Director of Logistics, met with 50 African security sector leaders currently attending the 2013 Senior Leaders Seminar program organized by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Arlington, Virginia.

Brig. Gen. Johnson talked to the audience about AFRICOM’s role in support of U.S. policy towards Africa and how the command implements this policy to support its partners in the security sector on the continent.

The Senior Leaders Seminar has been offered by the Africa Center since 1999 as an opportunity to provide senior African leaders with practical and effective tools upon which they can draw to address Africa’s current and emerging security challenges.

Thank you for the warm welcome. On behalf of GEN Rodriguez, it is an honor to share this time with you and to represent US Africa Command at this event that brings together key stakeholders to improve the security sector in Africa. You have an impressive group of seasoned professionals from over 30 African nations, 3 regional organizations, and various disciplines of the security sector.
Thank you, Mr Garrison, I must say, that was a very nice introduction…BUT, that was not the best introduction I’ve received…some years ago, I was asked to speak at an event, and the Master of Ceremonies became ill and could not make the introductions…so I was asked to introduce myself…WOW!, now that was a great introduction!!

Bear with me just a moment and I’ll share a little about my background to give you a sense of the experiences that have shaped me. And, in the question & answer period, I look forward to hearing about your experiences…

I came into the United States Air Force 25 years ago in the operations business stationed in Germany supporting Ground Launch Cruise Missile operations…after achieving a private pilot license, went off to flight school as a navigator for future assignments in airlift operations. Later in my career I was fortunate to receive assignments in logistics as the Commander of an Aerial Port Squadron, and then as the US Transportation Command Liaison to US Central Command and Special Operations Command. And finally, I received assignment opportunities in Senior Officer Personnel Force Management. So, really a combination of operations, logistics, and personnel in Air Force and Joint assignments.

My experience in Africa began over 40 years ago when my father was stationed in Asmara, Ethiopia when I was a small child. I returned to Africa in the 1990s to participate in several exercises and also in a relief effort.

Mr. Garrison asked for a brief today about the role of United States Africa Command in U.S. Strategy towards Africa and how the command implements this strategy to support our African partners in the security sector. This briefing will cover these areas, and will highlight some specific examples of how developing these partnerships with Nations and Regional Organizations will further the efforts to improve the security sector.

U.S. Africa Command is at its core, a military organization. As such, we don’t formulate or shape our own policy, but instead we translate U.S. policy into action. That is a fairly simplified statement of what we do. It is important to understand that the U.S. military is not an independent actor in Africa, and our efforts support larger U.S. government objectives and shared security interests with African partners. To be clear about what is a common misconception, AFRICOM does not act independently, nor does it set policy for U.S. relations with Africa. Instead, we carry out policy and guidance as directed by the President and the Secretary of Defense.

And, while AFRICOM is one element of the holistic approach to furthering U.S. policy with African nations, AFRICOM is not necessarily the decisive element. So in looking at issues such as violent extremism, we see ourselves as part of an approach that involves a variety of entities, to include the U.S. government, national, and international partners working across a range of societal sectors to improve the various socio, political, economic and military environments across Africa in ways that benefit us all.

Last week, you heard from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Amanda Dory, and from our Department of State counterparts about the U.S. strategy towards Africa. I therefore won’t spend a lot of time talking about our Department’s strategy, but I would like to highlight some key points and explain how they guide our endeavors at AFRICOM.

Our policies in Africa are guided by the National Security Strategy, signed by President Obama in May 2010. It focuses on promoting common interests around the world to strengthen security, promote the rule of law, and advance support for universal rights. This national strategy also focuses on disrupting, dismantling, and defeating Al Qaeda and its Violent Extremist Affiliate Networks which support efforts to attack the United States, our allies, and partners.

Perhaps most importantly, in his foreword to the National Security Strategy, the President describes a holistic approach to security. His description acknowledges capable armed forces as a cornerstone of U.S. security, but also places equal importance on the efforts of the diplomatic corps; the development experts who strengthen governance and support human dignity; and Intelligence & law enforcement personnel who work with partners to identify threats to security, protect civilians and strengthen justice systems.

These diplomacy and development efforts are intended to help nations that choose to partner with us prevent conflict; spur economic growth; strengthen institutions and democratic governance; and combat climate change and epidemic disease.

Our structure at AFRICOM highlights the importance of military and civilian cooperation. By having a Civilian Deputy in the Command (an Ambassador) and representatives from other U.S. agencies also embedded in the command, AFRICOM benefits from a broader understanding of the entirety of what we call the inter-agency process — a whole of government approach that effectively combines diplomacy, development and defense.

In addition to the National Security Strategy, we have three presidential policy directives, or PPDs, that influence our approach to supporting security and stability in Africa. PPD 13 focuses on North Africa and the Middle East, and PPD 16 focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa. Both of these documents highlight the belief that peace and security, democracy, and transparent institutions create the environment necessary for economic growth, trade and prosperity.

The third and final Presidential policy directive I would like to share with you is PPD 23, which focuses on the President’s new approach to security sector assistance. Unlike the PPDs on North Africa and Sub Saharan Africa, this policy applies to our partnerships with all partner nations, not just those in a specific region or on a specific continent. This directive aims to really focus the U.S. government’s efforts and goals in the security sector. It defines those national institutions that have the most significant impact on stability — such as state security and law enforcement providers, judicial oversight bodies, and civil society institutions, to name a few. This policy highlights the principal goals the United States will pursue in collaborating with partners, and it describes the methods we will use to conduct security assistance.

That’s just the “Wave-Top” connection on “U.S. Strategy and Policy guidance on Africa”, but please understand, these are not simply U.S. objectives, in many ways, they are common or shared objectives. In fact, the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union outlines our areas of mutual interest in strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, advancing peace and security, and promoting opportunity and development. It is this convergence of interests, especially in advancing peace and security, that guides AFRICOM’s efforts to strengthen African defense Capabilities in order to provide a security environment conducive to Good Governance and Development. And so, this is our mission at AFRICOM: To protect and defend U.S. interests by providing assistance that enhances African militaries’ ability to provide regional and national security.

Our approach to partnership is simple: First, we listen in order to understand the security challenges African are currently facing. We do this through our defense officials at U.S. embassies and by way of AFRICOM’s direct engagement with African leaders. Second, we seek to understand how African countries and regional organizations are responding to these challenges. Third, we partner with Africans and the U.S. Inter-Agency (mainly the Department of State) to see where our interests align and how we can best be supportive of African efforts. We support partner nations by working with them to build specific capabilities to achieve common goals, such as countering violent extremism or preparing to conduct peacekeeping efforts.

Our preference is to work with and thru our partners when they have requested specific assistance. This is what the term partnership means to us: finding the place where our common interests and security goals intersect, then intertwining our efforts with those of our partners. Working with African partner nations, AFRICOM’s Security Cooperation Program focuses on 3 broad areas: (1) Building defense institutions (2) Expanding operational capability and capacity and (3) Developing enduring relationships.

We estimate that $394 million dollars will have been spent between October 2012 and September 2013 on more than 1,200 Security Cooperation Programs and initiatives in Africa which were coordinated by Department of State, the Department of Defense, and AFRICOM. An example of a Security Cooperation Program is the State Partnership Program, which links U.S. State National Guards with African Partnership countries. The National Guard units participate largely through the Military-to-Military Engagement Program. U.S. Africa Command has the following: 8 State Partnerships: Botswana and North Carolina; Ghana and North Dakota; Liberia and Michigan; Morocco and Utah, Nigeria and California; Senegal and Vermont; South Africa and New York; and Tunisia & Wyoming.

Additional examples of joint Department of State and Department of Defense Security Cooperation Programs are:

• Assisting Libya with the purchase and refurbishment of 24 armored M1114 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, thereby providing the Libyan Armed Forces with a protected mobile asset that will clearly differentiate Libyan Armed Forces from militias.

• Enabling the Ethiopian Air Force deployments to the UN Interim Security Force peacekeeping mission in Abyei, Sudan, by providing modifications to their Mi-17 helicopter for the night vision devices and crew training. This effort was funded by the Global Peace Operations Initiative and was executed by the U.S. Air Force’s Special Operations Squadron. As a result, two Ethiopian helicopters are now able to support this UN mission by providing logistics support and casualty evacuation during night operations.

• Another Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) funded example is our support to Rwanda for the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali. We recently shipped communications and information technology tools, and field kitchen equipment which will be ready for use by the forces.

As you can see by these examples, AFRICOM focuses the majority of its efforts and resources on conducting activities with willing and capable partners to address the drivers of instability through either immediate response or in the best cases, the prevention or mitigation of future conditions where instability thrives. One of these drivers of instability is the threat of violent extremist organizations, which is why countering violent extremism is one of our top priorities. Another one of our priorities is to support Africans’ ability to conduct and sustain peace support operations. These priorities mirror those of the African Union, specifically the AU’s Peace and Security Council.

When we speak of partnerships, we have in mind not only our African partners, but also our international Partners who have a stake in a stronger security landscape in Africa. Again, through collaboration based on shared values and mutual goals, we’re finding that our efforts are more likely to be achieved if we pursue both bilateral and multilateral partnerships with our African, European Union (EU), NATO, and UN partners. Through this approach, we find that our resources are better optimized, and most importantly, our African partners are the lead stakeholders. The joint efforts of the United States and the EU to provide training to the African Troop Contributing Nations in the African Union Mission in Somalia is a prime example of the kind of close, multilateral partnership we see as an emerging paradigm and success story in Africa.

With this philosophy about partnerships in mind, let’s talk about some of the challenges facing African militaries and organizations, as expressed by African leaders, and how we are assisting in overcoming these challenges. While what we will discuss this afternoon is not an all inclusive list of what we are doing in Africa, it does highlight our focus on supporting African-led solutions for challenges in Africa.

Let’s begin by discussing our support to countries that are providing troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia, or AMISOM. The U.S. has not led, nor has it participated in, military action in Somalia. Instead, our approach has been to support the troop contributing countries, or TCCs, in their training to deploy, sustain, and redeploy in support of AMISOM. They identified a few areas of support that would assist them in carrying out a successful mission in Somalia and we responded. For example, through our Africa Deployment Assistance Partnership Team (ADAPT) we trained Kenyans, Ugandans, and Burundians to more effectively load their equipment and personnel on airlift missions into Somalia. We provided critical life-saving equipment, such as body armor and helmets, to these same partners, and through our Dept of State’s Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance, or ACOTA, we trained them on basic soldier skills for them to more effectively counter Al Shabaab. We are proud to have played a supporting role in the recent successes of AMISOM, and we believe this model is an effective model for other AU and UN operations in Africa.

Regarding the AFRICOM Logistics Directorate’s role in this type of support…we (and to a larger extent, our component logisticians) have discussed with our African counterparts some of the logistics challenges of deploying forces to peacekeeping operations, Sustaining troops in a foreign theater for a significant amount of time, and maintaining equipment in the field. We also support overcoming these challenges by working with partners through such activities as the Peacekeeping Logistics Course, that was established at the Kofi Annan Center in Accra, Ghana. Three members of Marine Forces Africa facilitate the course, but the lead instructors are African logisticians who have extensive experience in continental peacekeeping operations. During this course, logisticians learn and apply concepts in deploying and sustaining troops, and also receive critical instruction on other topics such as Environmental Security and Human Rights. Since its inception, this course has enabled more than 350 senior-level logisticians who will serve in the African-led International Support Mission to Mali, or AFISMA.

I mentioned earlier that one of our national priorities is to counter violent extremism. As we’ve seen in North-West Africa, Somalia, and Nigeria, this is a growing concern. Violent extremist groups often operate in difficult terrain, which hampers military operations to disrupt and defeat them. We approach this challenge primarily by assisting our partners in extending their reach and endurance to conduct counter-terrorism activities. This can include improved intelligence collection and enhanced communications capability. To a logistician, it means we work with our partners to optimize aircraft and vehicles to support their missions.

Through our Logistics Management Assistance Team (LOGMAT), we have conducted regional courses and then followed up with each nation to train their Air Forces on issues tailored to that nation’s needs. Centered on the “Total Airbase Logistics” concept, this program enhances our partner nation’s airlift capacity with the smallest footprint possible.

We realize, however, that aircraft are not as commonly used as vehicles by African forces working to secure their borders from extremists. Our Vehicle and Equipment MX Assistance Team (VEMAT) was developed to assist our partners in enhancing preventive vehicle maintenance and accountability practices. This long-term, 5-phased activity was recently completed by the Special Anti-terrorist Group in Chad. By the end of the 18-month VEMAT cycle, Chad increased its vehicle in-commission rate by 31%, enabling the deployment and redeployment of their forces supporting operations both in Chad, as well as in Mali. Chad is scheduled for its second cycle of VEMAT this fall.

African leaders have also communicated challenges in the maritime domain. Maritime security is a crucial element in the security landscape in Africa. Much of the illegal trafficking of narcotics, weapons, and most unfortunately, people, occurs in coastal waters. One of the challenges expressed was the need for regional partnerships. One activity where we’ve had significant success in this regard is our African Partnership Station, or APS. APS is a series of activities designed to enhance maritime safety and security in Africa by working together with African and other international partners. Our goal is to empower African nations to protect their own maritime security interests. APS responds to specific African requests for assistance that benefit the international community as a whole, not just the United States. It is inspired by the belief that effective maritime safety and security will contribute to economic prosperity and security on land. There is a relationship between security of the sea; the ability of countries to govern their waters; and a country’s prosperity, stability, and peace.

Another, perhaps familiar example in the maritime safety and security sector is related to our support for the Economic Communities of Central and West Africa States (ECOWAS and ECCAS). A secure maritime domain not only addresses threats, but also provides opportunity to leverage the maritime sector for growth, trade, and investment. And, African-owned solutions are critical.

AFRICOM supported the signing of the ECOWAS-ECCAS agreement on the Gulf of Guinea Code of Conduct and facilitated the development of a regional training concept for the Maritime Forces of West and Central African States. The initial concept envisions a combined team of experienced African trainers in each operational maritime zone, with one nation acting as lead, notionally, Nigeria in this example, as the lead for Zone “E” training.

One last example on maritime security: Building on the training and naval exercises of APS, Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership or (AMLEP) provides U.S. Coast Guard boarding experts opportunity to conduct real-world operations aboard U.S. Navy or international partner vessels. In March 2013, the UK ship HMS ARGYLL with the support of two U.S. Coast Guard boarding officers, conducted joint maritime interdiction patrols with Cape Verde Coast Guard patrol boat GUARDIAO in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cape Verde.

And one last example of AFRICOM supporting African concerns, is in the West, where we’ve enabled partner nations with identity resolution capabilities in order for them to use biometrics to more clearly identify threats within their region. The command was able to train, program, and provide sustainable solutions to enable these countries to gain indirect access to U.S. biometric data systems, using equipment these countries obtained from U.S. interagency organizations. Through this program, we’ve enabled African countries such as Senegal and Cape Verde, who now have full and robust IDR capabilities, to provide for their own security while contributing to security on the continent. They essentially enhanced the capabilities of African governments and regional security establishments to mitigate threats from organizations committed to violent extremism.

These are just a sample of the activities that AFRICOM is participating in with our African partners. And, while we consider these successes, we realize we still have much to learn about the challenges our African partners face and much to do as we partner with Africa to assist in creating a stronger, more secure and stable Africa.

In the beginning of this presentation, I mentioned that ACSS requested a discussion about the role of USAFRICOM in U.S. strategy towards Africa and how the command implements this strategy to support our African partners in the security sector. While this briefing covered these areas, with some specific examples of how developing these partnerships with nations and regional organizations is furthering the efforts to improve the security sector, a major intent of this brief presentation was really to set the stage for a dialogue where we can continue to learn from one another now with a question and answer forum. I understand you still have a couple days remaining, so if I don’t have a satisfactory answer for any of your questions, I will get back to you before you depart the ACSS Seminar.

On behalf of GEN Rodriguez, Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this great forum It has been an honor to share this time with you and to represent US Africa Command at your annual event. I appreciate the warm welcome and the wonderful dialogue.

This assignment to AFRICOM has been an exceptional opportunity to learn and to make a difference together with others look forward to working with many of you and to contributing to our shared goals.

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