U.S. Africa Command hosted African Chiefs of Defense and senior military leaders from 36 countries for the 2022 African Chiefs of Defense Conference: Shared Investment for a Shared Future, in Rome, Jan. 31 – Feb. 3, 2022
The conference provided an opportunity to enhance relationships, encourage partnerships and discuss shared visions for the future of multinational coordination, operations and interoperability in Africa.
"Our partnership with the nations in Africa is a partnership of friends, working together to address mutual security challenges and also to enable progress on political and development challenges as well," said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command.
Townsend chaired the event, which is the first in-person CHOD conference since 2017. Last year, the command hosted a virtual conference from Stuttgart, Germany. Townsend was joined by Amb. Andrew Young, deputy to the commander for Civil-Military Engagement, and Sgt. Maj. Richard Thresher, command senior enlisted leader.
The conference discussions included five overarching panels: crisis preparation, response, and recovery; threats to security and rule of law; protecting resources; effects of technology; and interoperability. Attendees also heard a keynote address from Fauziya Abdi Ali, president of Women in International Security, Horn of Africa, as well as remarks from U.S. Navy Adm. Christopher Grady, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"The conference has a huge impact on my military, particularly because it allows me to get to interact at a very highest level, one with the African nations whom I don't get to meet," Gen. Robert Kibochi, Chief of Defence Forces, Kenya. "Secondly, to interact with the partners that have been working with us."
At the end of the conference, Townsend noted the importance of candid discussions among senior military partners to help better address global issues that no one nation can solve alone. He also shared his concerns about the recent spate of unconstitutional, military-led changes of government.
“One of the greatest threats to the rule of law in a democracy is the scourge of corruption, but the overthrow of elected leaders only deepens the problem,” said Townsend. “These military seizures of power are inconsistent with democratic values and as professional military members, it is important that we stay out of politics so that we can remain a part of the solution.”