Showcases and forums where vendors display the latest military technology are not a new concept. In the past, U.S. Africa Command held an event annually to consolidate solicitation visits by private companies.
This year, AFRICOM’s public-private partnership branch wanted to turn the event into a venue for problem solving and launched the first three-day USAFRICOM Partnership Forum.
“We used to refer to this day as industry day, but we felt like we could expand it and make it more collaborative. I’m thankful that all of you were a part of that effort,” Gen. David Rodriguez, AFRICOM commander, said to participants. “We felt it’s important to take steps to understand how we can better work with nonfederal entities to achieve mutually beneficial goals.”
For the first two days, representatives from the command, academia, private businesses and nongovernment organizations discussed how nonfederal entities may be able to contribute to the command’s strategic objectives.
Lt. Col. Robert Farmer, chief of the public-private partnership branch, said his team broke down the discussions into 10 topics:
- Maritime Security
- Public Private Partnership in Operations: A Perspective from Liberia
- Operational Energy
- IT Infrastructure: Expanding and Improving Capacity
- Partner Against Illicit Activities
- Women, Peace, and Security
- African Medical Security
- Combating Food Insecurity
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Civil-Military Operations Cultural Property Protection
“The topics themselves are about partnership for everybody who has to work in Africa. We can’t do it alone,” Farmer said.
The forum was nearly no-cost to the government with most costs borne by the event planning company with which USAFRICOM partnered.
“There’s a lot of people out there that talk about a whole of government approach. I just have to tell you that we have to be bigger than that. It’s really a whole of nation approach, and that’s where you fit in,” Rodriguez said during the showcase.