African Land Forces Summit underway in Zambia

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The Zambian and US Armies are holding the twelfth edition of the African Land Forces Summit in Livingstone under the theme Regional Solutions to Transnational Problems.

The summit, which runs from 22 to 26 April, “brings together over 40 land force military chiefs from across Africa [and] other European partner nations, along with academic thought leaders and government officials for candid dialogue to discuss and develop cooperative solutions,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Major General Pat Ryder said during a briefing this week. Some 500 guests are attending the event.

“Africa’s security challenges originate from different parallels such as ethnic, geographical and cultural sources,” Ambrose Lufuma, defence minister of the Republic of Zambia, is quoted in an Army news release about the summit. “Therefore, it requires African solutions, in partnership with our cooperating partners.”

“For any economic development to take place, a safe and secure environment is important, something that is not always the case, as there are a number of conflicts in Africa,” Lufuma said during the Summit’s opening session.

“This distinguished gathering provides a rare and special platform that allows for all of us to listen and learn from each other…to look for solutions to challenges of transnational nature,” said co-host Lieutenant General Sitali D Alibuzwi, commander, Zambia Army.

“Challenges such as human trafficking, mass migration, environmental degradation and climate change wreak havoc and cause untold human suffering. These issues transcend national borders, they subvert sovereignty, cross jurisdictions and strain national resources. No country can solve these challenges alone,” Major General Todd R Wasmund, commanding general, US Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF) stated.

In addition to the multiple discussions and breakaways, those attending the summit also had the opportunity to watch a military demonstration by the Zambian army’s special forces, amongst other events.

This year’s African Land Forces Summit is sponsored by the US Army Chief of Staff and co-hosted by the US Army Southern European Task Force, Africa and the Zambia Army.

At the summit’s conclusion, the US Department of Defence is expected to sign the two newest state partnership programmes with Africa: one between North Carolina and Zambia, and the other between North Carolina and Malawi.

Through the State Partnership Programme, which originated in 1993, the National Guard conducts military-to-military engagements in support of Department of Defence security goals, while also leveraging “whole-of-society relationships and capabilities” to facilitate “broader interagency and corollary engagements” that span military, economic, government and social spheres, according to the National Guard’s official website.

The inaugural African Land Forces Summit took place in Washington, DC, in 2010, with the first edition being held in Africa in 2012.