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TRANSCRIPT: Closing Remarks at Fourth AFRICOM Academic Symposium
<i> More than 70 academics and regional experts in African security related issues gathered July 12-15, 2010, in Dakar for the fourth U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Academic Symposium designed to help the command gain a better understanding of how
More than 70 academics and regional experts in African security related issues gathered July 12-15, 2010, in Dakar for the fourth U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Academic Symposium designed to help the command gain a better understanding of how it can improve support to peace and security efforts in Africa.

Participants at the three-day event represent academic and policy-focused institutions from 25 African and four European countries, Canada and the United States, who are experts in such areas as history, political science, conflict management, trans-national threats, and economics. The conference includes about 15 senior officers and employees from the staff headquarters of U.S. Africa Command. The conference was co-hosted by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the DoD's leading institution for strategic studies, research and outreach in Africa, and the U.S. Africa Command Outreach Directorate Partnership Division.

The following are closing comments by Dr. Monde Muyangwa, academic dean, Africa Center for Strategic Studies; Dr. Raymond Brown, U.S. Africa Command foreign policy advisor; and Captain Ndome Faye, military cabinet chief, Senegalese Ministry of Defense. See article: AFRICOM Academic Symposium Begins in Senegal MONDE MUYANGWA: (In progress) – ... good afternoon and welcome to the closing ceremony for this fourth AFRICOM Academic Symposium. As we conclude our symposium, I wanted to remind us of the goals and objectives that we started out with when we started four days ago, and just to allow us to take a moment to reflect on whether or not we have achieved those goals and objectives. Slide, please. We started out with a goal of wanting to increase our understanding of why Africa Command was established. We also wanted to enhance or refresh our understanding of key security issues in Africa, to increase our knowledge and understanding of Africa Command's priorities, programs and activities and its engagement with Africa on peace and security issues. To gain a better appreciation of Africa Command … to get a better sense of the academic communities' concerns but also of their potential contributions. We wanted to expand and deepen the dialogue between Africa Command and the academic community, including an expanded and more interactive network among academics and others working on African security issues, but also to identify opportunities for further cooperation between Africa Command and the academic community. More concretely, we set out to develop practical and concrete recommendations of how best Africa Command could support peace and security in Africa, particularly in the areas of democratic civil-military relations, addressing transnational threats and enhancing African security-sector capacity. Over the last four days, we've had lots of lively and sometimes impassioned debate. It is my hope that you feel that you have achieved some, or perhaps even all, of the objectives that we set for ourselves four days ago, and that you feel that your trip to Dakar was well worth the time away from your jobs and your families. Only you can be the real judge of whether or not we have achieved all of these objectives. But from my perspective, both in a personal and professional capacity, I feel this has been a valuable symposium. First and foremost, as we heard this morning, you provided some very concrete recommendations to Africa Command based on your analysis of African context and realities. This is very important. The wealth of ideas and of your suggestions is exactly what we needed and you gave it to us, and for that, I thank you. I also consider this symposium to have been a success for having gathered great African intellectual firepower. I looked around this room when we first started four days ago and I was amazed at the continuity, both old and new, intellectual writings and thinking that you all represented sitting in this room. I was not certain at the start whether you would actually engage and allow – bring that experience and expertise that you represent to the forefront, but you did not disappoint and I need not have worried. I thank you for the readiness with which you have engaged, sometimes in intellectual combat, the readiness with which you have shared of your ideas and expertise. This has definitely allowed us to refresh and enhance our knowledge and understanding of critical African security issues. As someone who sits in Washington working with various U.S. agencies working on Africa and security issues, I cannot emphasize enough how much your analysis means to us. I understand, as do many of my colleagues within the U.S. government, that unless our programs and activities are firmly grounded in proper analysis and fresh analysis and in the context of African realities, these programs and activities cannot and will not succeed. So for sharing with us of your knowledge, your concerns, your experiences, I thank you. You have provided a good backdrop and foundation on which we can go back to Washington and to Germany to revisit Africa Command's programs and activities, to judge whether we are on the right track, to judge whether we need to make readjustments, to see if we need to communicate a better message, and for all of your input in that area, I thank you. I also think the symposium has been valuable in that it has presented Africa Command staff at various levels with an opportunity to hear directly from you but also to make connections and to initiate a dialogue with you. As Africans, I need not remind you of the importance of that personal relationship of connecting at the individual level and for your willingness to engage Africa Command but also Africa Center staff, I thank you. It is my hope that we are going to continue with this dialogue at the institutional, the personal and professional levels. Even though it is unlikely that we will always agree in terms of what U.S. policy is about Africa, I ask that we keep the lanes of communications open, that we continue to engage. It has to be a two-way street and we can have that two-way street only if we're engaged and agreeing that we will, even as we seek to work together, disagree from time to time. My personal belief is that as long as we continue this dialogue, approach it with a willingness to be open, that there are opportunities for mutual benefit, for both the United States and for Africa. In my view, this symposium has also been a success in that Africa Command has been able to convey to you some of the key work that it is doing with Africans in the area of peace and security so that we hope you've been able to see some value added that Africa Command can bring to African peace and security without usurping your right to drive the agenda to determine the priorities. However, over the course of the last four days, several of you have also conveyed to us that even as Africa Command is becoming better known on the continent, more work needs to be done to clarify its mission, its roles and responsibility within U.S.-Africa policy as well as what it can and what it cannot do. I know that my colleagues at Africa Command have heard this and in fact, Dr. Brown will be addressing this in his remarks. Some of you have very pointedly told us that Africa Command needs to consider reframing its message of why it was created so that it is not framed in altruistic language as having been created solely for Africa's benefit. You have asked that AFRICOM very directly frame its mission as an entity created, first and foremost, to safeguard U.S. national interests in Africa. I believe that message has been noted. Having said that, however, my personal viewpoint is that U.S. and African interests in the area of peace and security may not always perfectly align, but they're not necessarily mutually exclusive. What we are asking you to do is to focus on that area of confluence where U.S. and African interests do intersect. It gives opportunity to develop a mutually beneficial relationship in this field, and we ask that you consider that. In any case, your larger point about framing and presentation of Africa Command to Africa is well made and it has been received. You have also allowed us an opportunity to better appreciate academia's concerns about -- but also, and for me, more importantly -- the potential contributions that you could make to Africa Command. And in that regard, I thank you for looking to the future and focusing on how we might continue this dialogue. Four days ago, I mentioned that there was some in the crowd who had specifically said to us that they were skeptical of Africa Command. I want to take a moment to thank you for coming to Dakar, to thank you for accepting the invitation. And I say to you, you may still not be fully convinced about Africa Command, but I do applaud you for coming and for contributing your views to this dialogue. And I hope you found enough here to continue with that dialogue even though you do not agree with us on everything. It is my sincere hope that you will stay engaged and continue to be a part of the dialogue. We have heard you on the need for regular feedback and contact with Africa Command on the recommendations that you have made over the last three symposia and this one here in Dakar. You want to know that Africa Command is listening and considering your recommendations. I know for a fact that Dr. Brown will be addressing that issue in his remarks. When we started four days ago, we had several new faces in the crowd. You are no longer new faces. We're all familiar faces. I believe we're all now part of a much broader network extending beyond individuals, extending beyond institutions and across national borders. The challenge now is to harness some of the energy, the passion with which you have discussed issues here to keep the network and the dialogue going for Africa's benefit. You, as individuals, as institutions, as do we, coming from the United States, all have a role to play. We each have to make a commitment to play that role to continue the dialogue and to continue working the issues. To all of you, I say thank you for your time, your openness to dialogue, your willingness to share of your experience and expertise, and for your commitment to African peace and security as well as your commitment, over and above all, to helping shape mutually beneficial U.S.-Africa security relations. On behalf of the Africa Command team and the Africa Center team that has worked to support your deliberations this week, I say thank you for your contributions and for your partnership. And we look forward to staying in touch with you. Thank you. (Applause.) I would now like to give the mike to Dr. Brown to give a response on behalf of Africa Command to give you a sense of the way forward from Dakar. Dr. Brown? DR. RAYMOND BROWN (U.S. Africa Command Foreign Policy Advisor): Thank you, Dr. Muyangwa. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I just want to first say how much I've enjoyed being here and meeting new people and discussing very important subjects. I want to thank you for your thoughtful participation and the collective energy you displayed as I visited group after group, getting to know [you], sharing your views and working together on these recommendations. Very importantly, I want to thank the government of Senegal for their outstanding hospitality and hosting us at this event and for being an excellent partner in so many bilateral ways with the U.S. government. But I also want to thank you all for allowing me to participate in this important event and to learn from you and your views on how we can all work together for a better African future. Before I get specifically to a review of a sample of the recommendations, I want to take a little time to put the work of Africa Command within the context of U.S. strategic and security policy because in the meetings that I've sat in, it's been apparent to me that not everyone had a clear picture of how all that fit together. So give me a moment to do that. First, within the framework of how the U.S. government is structured, the president constitutionally has a unique authority to make foreign policy. Under the Constitution, the president is also the commander-in-chief of all of our armed forces. Of course, in a balance of three tiers of government, the Congress has the oversight responsibility to advise and consent to the president's initiatives, but more importantly, the Congress has the power of the purse, that is, to finance actions of the government. When there is no agreement between the executive and the legislature, there's no money, there's no program. That's pressure to find consensus. The courts and the Supreme Court exist to ensure that all governmental actions are in harmony with our Constitution. Now, U.S. strategic policy is managed by the National Security Council, which is a creature of the presidency in the post-World War II period. This council includes representatives from the White House and other executive agencies, including the Departments of State and Defense. Now, this is where strategic security and foreign policy direction and guidance is formed. The Department of State is the sole manager for implementing foreign policy. It has bilateral and multilateral diplomatic missions around the world. In Africa, we have a mission to the A.U. And our ambassadors in key capitals like Abuja and Gaborone are duly accredited to the regional economic communities as well as bilaterally. In our evolving whole-of-government approach to interagency management of our foreign affairs, our embassies have representatives from various departments, including Defense, Justice, Commerce, Treasury, Agriculture, USAID, among others. Each department has special functions, but the ambassador is the president's personal representative, and he is the lead of the embassy's country team. No activities of the U.S. government take place in any country to which we are accredited unless the ambassador and the embassy country team supports it. In matters of security cooperation and security capacity building, the U.S. Africa Command as an element of the U.S. Department of Defense has special responsibilities for Africa. U.S. defense attaches in our embassies engage local military leaders in our bilateral military relationships. And the Office of Security Cooperation handles bilateral military-to-military training, education, exercises and other engagements. So the Office of Security Cooperation is an element of the U.S. Africa Command in all of our embassies around the continent. In other matters, other USG (U.S. government) departments have special responsibility. In our discussions earlier, some suggested that we change our view from security sector reform to security sector transformation. I want to make it clear that in the way the all-of-government approach functions, the Africa Command has specific responsibility for certain security matters, but in other matters, other elements of government have responsibility. And so functionally, it is a transformational approach because in many cases the Department of Justice has responsibility for courts and judges and police and prosecutors. The Department of State has responsibility for educational exchanges and programs. USAID does development and institutional building and democracy and government. The Department of Agriculture does agricultural sector development and trade. The Drug Enforcement Agency and the State Department's International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau handles police and customs and security engagement for counternarcotics matters, et cetera. So, though the Africa Command may not have specific responsibility to function in a broad context of areas, it works with other elements of the U.S. government to do comprehensive policy programs. So even if the Department of Defense does not directly have responsibility to act in response to the many challenges raised in your recommendations, other agencies of the U.S. government do so engage in these areas of concern. Now, AFRICOM also has an interagency character, with senior and operational staff from a number of USG departments. I am with the Department of State, as was Ambassador Tony Holmes. In this way the command has access to the expertise of various U.S. government departments and ensures that its activities are in line with U.S. foreign policy. Getting directly more in terms of your recommendations and the like, let me review a couple of points. Generally, in this current of the series of symposia, the Africa Command views your recommendations as important. At the end of each of the symposia, these recommendations are presented to the Africa Command senior leadership in an after action report. The (Directorate of Outreach) reviews and considers all these recommendations when developing future academic engagement plans, and the recommendations will be considered when developing our future strategy, plans and programs. In reviewing the recommendations coming out of the groups, I just want to be able to look at maybe six of them, or maybe five of them …. to give you a sense of how we've been approaching them. One recommendation was that the command engage African scholars, institutes and think tanks, both at the individual and collective basis. I want to remind you that the second Africa Command symposium was held in Addis Ababa in 2009. The third was in Stuttgart, Germany. The fourth is here in Dakar. There is a fifth one proposed for somewhere in the southern subcontinent, yet to be determined for 2011. This focuses primarily on African scholars. Of course, there is a smattering of American and European academics involved. And the strategic centers that exist in the U.S. are also active players to keep the relationships growing and interaction between academics in the U.S. and in Africa. Smaller groups of scholars are collaborating as a result of these symposia. And it gives you all an opportunity to get to know each other and the work of each other and to be able to add that perspective to your academic exercise. There was a request from the.... second of the symposia in Addis Ababa that we include military professionals as well as academics in these symposia. And as you see in this and the last symposium, there were military professionals involved to add that perspective of national security policy and activity to the discussion. There was a request that we tap into existing expertise and think outside of the box in order to engage civil society in Africa and establish relationships with academics on an individual basis and not just as a collective group. Col. Diop spoke in this symposium, also has published in Africa Command's Africa Defense Forum, which is one venue for documentation and analyses that you as academics may wish to view as a publication source. Our speaker series ... Gen. Ward views the Africa Command as a listening and learning command. And he has created a knowledge and development division that has several different components to it that are aimed to further increase the knowledge and cultural sensitivity of people involved at the Africa Command. In the speaker series, we bring dynamic speakers who are experts on Africa and who are Africans to speak to the command in Stuttgart. We've had a couple of those sessions in the last several months. … Mr. Moeletsi Mbeki of South Africa was one of our key speakers in that quite recently. So the speaker series brings Africans and non-African experts to the command to brief the command staff on African issues. There was a suggestion that the command consider forging a partnership with the U.S. defense universities and academics and their counterparts. Happy to note that we have a representative here from the U.S. (Naval War College). And the outreach division of the command, in coordination with the Naval War College, has recently visited military academies and institutes in Africa to determine what the opportunities for partnership could be. And the Africa Command academic outreach is currently in discussion with representatives of the Nigerian command and staff college on a possible visit to discuss collaboration opportunities. And I've been invited for some time in the coming months to visit the Tanzanian staff college to talk to them about the command. Another recommendation was that we publicize a list of the Africa Command's research projects for African researchers to participate in. This is something that we have taken on. It's easily done. We only require e-mail addresses to forward those research project proposals to you. And the only issue is we may not be able to fund research, but there may be other opportunities for publication. You've recommended that the Africa Command partner with Brazil to fight drug trafficking from Colombia and Venezuela. We are partnering with a number of countries. And we're in discussion with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies and the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies and the Regional Center for South America to conduct a symposium on counternarcotics. And in that symposium, it will link the western hemisphere, eastern hemisphere traffic together. It was suggested that the Africa Command should undertake short-term programs to provide fixes for critical situations in Guinea-Bissau and other African countries. The Africa Command is sponsoring a group of African experts to participate in the Atlantic Council's African voice roundtable to discuss U.S. policy in West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea. These approaches and others that we can work on together give opportunities for African voices to contribute to the policy solutions that are being developed over time. Now, it's important for us to convey that the Africa Command takes these recommendations and helps build future engagement. And these symposia are important to us in that they give us opportunities to meet new people and learn new things and better improve our activities. So we will continue with a fifth Africa Command academic symposium, as I mentioned before, somewhere in the southern region. We're still looking for our final location for next year. And the goal of the command's academic symposium is to identify a core group of academic scholars that are experts in Africa and their peace and security issues and have a thorough knowledge of the Africa Command. Over time, those two categories of people are becoming unified in yourselves. We bring this group to Washington, D.C., for a conference workshop to discuss ideas and recommendations with representatives of the various – with various institutions, think tanks and individual scholars. So not only is it our hope that we will continue to build relationships with you, but as you build relationships with each other, you'll be able to function in your own home countries and regions in a collective way to contribute to the thinking of your policymakers on these strategic security concerns. At the conclusion of this symposium, it is possible that we may offer an invitation for a small, select group of past participants to each provide a paper on the recommendations provided during the past symposiums, then ask them to visit the command to discuss and defend their positions with the senior leadership of the command. This is another opportunity for you as participants and academics on the continent to have a direct interface with the Africa Command leadership to let them know what your sense of important priorities are and how the Africa Command should adjust to work better with Africa. Just to close this bit, I want to let you all know that we really do genuinely appreciate the opportunity to have you participate in these activities, and we noted and heard your point that capacity-building is important and that it should be collaborative and international and interagency, in context. That is how we are beginning to define and develop these programs, and we look forward to working with you on them. And we will carefully review all of the recommendations for use with current and future programs. And we hear the affirmation of the need to bring in the U.S. interagency to assist in areas that are outside of the lane of the Africa Command, but are necessary for our comprehensive transformation of security capacity building. Thank you very much. (Applause.) CAPT. NDOME FAYE (delivered via translator): Your Excellency, Ambassador Brown, distinguished dean, distinguished representatives of ACSS, distinguished officers, distinguished participants, dear guests -- we have now reached the end of the four-day symposium. And during the symposium, we have had an opportunity to have a better understanding of all the items on the program of the symposium. [We are] very happy to see the successful conclusion of this workshop being held in Senegal, as this opens up new prospects for peace and security in Africa. Indeed, these last four days (have) enabled you to exchange views on some very basic issues, especially the putting in perspective of Africa Command and the American policy in Africa, the civilian and military relations, the means of capacity-building of the security sector, and training. These issues are at the very heart of the security system in Africa. And that's why the AFRICOM initiative is extremely important because it contributes to the conceptualization of the security issues. Our interest in having this event was twofold. First, it allows us to develop an intellectual framework which is indispensable for the global consideration of security challenges in Africa. The multidisciplinary approach of the analysis of our abilities is, indeed, the best option to understand these issues which, today, have become very complex. Secondly, such exercises help us to manage initiatives and develop synergies between Africans. It also leads to a foundation, a more efficient foundation, for research and use of means. Ladies and gentlemen, the creation of Africa Command as well as the efforts undertaken by the government of the United States promoting regional security initiatives, show once again the importance of security African security issues for the world. Indeed, the shrinking of the world, our increased mobilization has resulted in the globalization of threats we face. International security now goes beyond national boarders or even the regional concerns. The presence of imminent threats testifies to the importance of topic and the quality of the discussion. For such an important issue, I'm sure you would agree that the answer has to be multidimensional in nature. Therefore the importance of assembling the systems we need and the facilities, intellectuals and specialists present here. And looking at all the themes on the program, I believe we can become more and more conversant on the need to address these security issues. Above all, this workshop will clearly demonstrate the importance of the further the development of these themes thus enhancing the contributions of the African intellectual community to peace and security in Africa. The input of the community and the mobilization of all the human resources available are essential. To start with I'd like to thank U.S. Africa Command and its initiative in organizing this workshop in support of peace and security. And I've seen that all the objectives have been met. Secondly, I'd like to say special thanks to the staff of ACSS, who have made very special efforts to guarantee the success of this event. Finally, I'd like to thank all the participants attending this session and wish all of you a safe journey back. (END)