A U.S. Africa Command delegation visit led by Ambassador Andrew Young, deputy to the commander for civil-military engagement, and U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Heidi Berg to Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo concluded Jan. 30. The engagements occurred Jan. 25-30.
The trip occurred during a critical time for Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as both countries navigate paths toward democracy and civilian-led governments. Engagements renewed partnerships between the U.S. and these African nations and provided opportunities to discuss commonalities, shared values, pursue mutual interests, and strengthen the regional capacity of these nations to address security challenges.
"We engaged with governments, militaries, the media, and civil society on this engagement to strengthen understanding and deepen relationships with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan,” said Young. “U.S. Africa Command is very much viewed as a professional organization whose partnership is sought after, respected, and trusted by African nations. African partners and their citizens know who we are and what we represent. U.S. Africa Command partnership is in very high demand because of our values and the quality of our engagement and training."
The visit highlighted a prominent threat ISIS poses for Africa through the terrorist group’s increased partnering and interaction with local criminal and terrorist groups seeking to boost their recruitment and funding. This includes concerns about the linkages between Allied Democratic Forces and ISIS.
“U.S. Africa Command understands the importance of combating terrorism and piracy, malign activities, and ensuring safe seas and waterways for shipping and commerce,” said Berg. “Cooperation aimed at addressing areas of shared concern is a common interest.
There are now pathways for partnership in place after the rescission of Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 2020. The rescission is key to the fundamental change in the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Sudan.
While a history of security cooperation between the U.S. and the DRC goes as far back as 1974, this trip was the first visit by U.S. Africa Command since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in October 2020. The MOU outlines a framework for focused support for partnership. The U.S-DRC Privileged Partnership for Peace and Security initiative highlights U.S. partnering efforts with the DRC that includes assistance in building democratic institutions, advancing the rule of law, protecting human rights, countering human trafficking, improving governance, combatting infectious diseases, and promoting security and stability.
“The countries we visited want to partner with the U.S., they want to improve their security, and they desire and promise a better tomorrow,” said Berg. “They are looking to build on progress and renew cooperation with the U.S.”
Young and Berg met with high-level government and military leaders, civil society, and the news media to connect messages to all levels of society while reflecting transparency. Additionally, the trip covered a range of activities including training, increased dialogue, improved mechanisms for coordination and information sharing, stronger regional cooperation, international contributions, and women, peace, and security initiatives that support increased inclusion and views of every citizen.
“The time is now to build partnerships, strengthen relationships, and fortify trust,” said Berg. “To do this requires a willingness to learn, a desire to improve, and a diversity of perspective.”
In Sudan, Berg was the first-ever U.S. leader to brief at the Sudanese Numeri Higher Military Academy, highlighting the relationship and role between civilian leadership, the military, and the populace and what is instrumental to building trust.
"The hallmark of an effective military is one that seeks to create a secure environment for its people, and is accountable to its civilian leadership. This requires transparency, strict adherence to the rule of law, and accountability,” said Berg.
Young reinforced the importance of strong values working toward the security and betterment of all people. He also highlighted the need for governments and militaries to remain transparent, open to many voices, and creating security that leads toward enhanced prosperity.
"Part of being accountable is being transparent. People need to know their government and military are working toward the common good of all. The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan know this. Together we are building on this progress to develop and deepen relationships with regional partners, the U.S., and citizens to secure a better future. We have a shared interest to help their journey to a stronger democracy. Every step forward will pay huge dividends for us all,” said Young.
Editor’s note: Imagery and additional information associated with this U.S. Africa Command delegation visit can be found at the U.S. Africa Command website at: https://www.africom.mil, Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AFRICOM or via Twitter at https://twitter.com/USAfricaCommand