The Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, located at the National Defense University (NDU) at Fort Lesley J. McNair, welcomed, 62 military officers representing 38 African nations to its 2010 Next Generation of African Military Leaders Course.
The four-week program, which continues through till March 26, will focus on enhancing professionalism, ethics and leadership in African militaries. The officers will examine Africa’s contemporary and emerging security threats and analyze civil-military relations on the continent to determine the role and place of professional military officers in advancing national security in democratizing states.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador William M. Bellamy (retired), Africa Centre director said, “I do not need to tell this audience of African military officers that very few of the security threats facing African states today can be resolved by military means alone. All elements of national power must be harnessed to deal with the multiple sources of insecurity that exist in most African states today.”
“The most successful leaders, military and civilian,” he continued, “will be those who recognize this requirement and are able to bring whole-of-government approaches to bear on the security problems they face.”
Ambassador Thomas C. Krajeski, NDU senior vice president, welcomed the course participants to Washington, DC He cited what President Barack Obama said about a year ago when he opened the newest building at NDU: “It falls to institutions like this and individuals like you and he would have included you within this group as well to help us understand the world as it is, to develop the capacity that we need to confront emerging danger, and to active purpose and pragmatism to turn this moment of peril into one of promise. That is how we will find new pathways to peace and prosperity.
That is the work we must do.”
Brigadier General Dominique Djindere, Chief of Defense Staff, Burkina Faso, and keynote speaker at the opening session of the course, spoke about Africa’s security challenges and the importance of senior military leadership in the region. Explaining that the challenges facing Africa’s defense and security sector are numerous and originate from both within and outside the sector itself, he said, “In both cases, the nature and the quality of the command and leadership exercised by the senior officers constituting the entire chain of command, in their mission to establish a ‘new military governance,’ are what determines the ability to effectively address those challenges.”
“In any given country, however,” Djindere stressed, “the expression of a strong political will and respect for the rules of democratic governance by all the socio-political stakeholders of that country are the true catalysts that will make it possible to attain that level of effectiveness.”
In closing, General Djindéré reminded the African officers in the audience that “you must be the catalysts for creating defense and security forces that are in perfect harmony with the changes and obligations of democracy and progress so ardently desired for the African continent.”
Pointing out that the course is accredited, with eligible officers receiving three semester hours of graduate-level credit, Monde Muyangwa, Ph.D., the Africa Centre’s Academic Dean, said, “The accreditation of our Next Generation of African Military Leaders Course further establishes the Africa Centre as a solid academic institution focusing on strategic-level African security and policy issues.”
The officers attending the course, mostly majors and lieutenant colonels, were selected by their countries to attend the course because of their command experience or staff responsibilities as well as their recognized leadership potential.
The course has been offered at least once a year since 2005. The program is devoted to leadership and ethics in the context of issues ranging from developing and implementing a national security strategy and aligning resources to national security goals to civil-military relations, security and democracy.
Other sessions will be devoted to military, human rights and humanitarian law, conflict management and peace support operations, counter-terrorism in Africa, and security sector reform.
Complementing the rigorous classroom work taught by African, American and European experts, the African officers will also travel to the Army War College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania.; Quantico Marine Corps Base; the Pentagon; State Department and Congress to learn more about effective civil-military cooperation, good governance and democratization.
Sources: www.africom.mil and Africa Center for Strategic Studies