Africa/United States defence co-operation under the spotlight

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Forty-three African defence chiefs and senior military leaders attended the annual African Chiefs of Defence conference hosted by US (United States) Africa Command in Rome to “enhance relationships and discuss shared visions for future multinational con-ordination” on the continent.

US Marine Corps General Michael Langley, who hosted the four day event, is reported as saying its theme of resources and requirements affect reality and reputation is “particularly relevant in today’s dynamic and challenging environment”.

“Collectively, we must analyse our capabilities and be efficient in pursuing common goals,” he said. Expanding on the conference theme, Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Meaney wrote it addressed instability, protecting resources, crisis preparation and response, technology and other challenges.

“Above all, the conference provided an opportunity to enhance relationships, encourage partnerships and discuss shared visions for the future of multinational co-ordination, operations and inter-operability in Africa.”

Five interlinking panels – Leading Indicators of Instability; Protecting Resources; Crisis Preparation and Response from a Regional Approach and Next Frontiers of Technology – made up conference forums with a Lessons Learnt segment focussing on “institutionalised learning”.

Stability was a key element of this year’s meeting, Meaney reported, with discussions on the root causes, indicators and vectors of instability. Throughout the conference, leaders reiterated the importance of foundational strength in a nation’s defence force.

“The conference was valuable for both sharing of new ideas and rekindling old relationships. No military force should underestimate the value and power of a well-trained, educated and empowered non-commissioned officer corps,” Sergeant Major Richard Thresher, command senior enlisted leader, US Africa Command, said.

Between forums, highlights included overviews of the State Partnership Programme, a Department of Defence security co-operation programme managed by the National Guard Bureau. “This is a two-way relationship. It gives us an opportunity to train with allies and partners and we learn significantly from each and every one of you. These are mutually beneficial relationships,” US Army General Daniel Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau said.

Attending this year’s conference were 15 National Guard leaders, including Major General Michael Turley, commander of the Utah National Guard, whose partnership with the Kingdom of Morocco is now in its 20th year.

Closing the conference Langley highlighted its importance to Africa and the US, its impact on the broader international community and its potential to shape the global future.

“We view our security co-operation efforts like an investment account and compound interest is a beautiful thing. We invest in countries when they are low, as well as when they are high, trusting our investment – our relationship- will grow exponentially and have long-term, positive security results for the people of Africa and the globe,” Langley is reported as saying.