State, defence officials focus on East Africa security


U.S. Embassy representatives from eight East African nations joined military leaders from U.S. Africa Command and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier on 24 January for the 2017 East Africa Security Synchronization Conference.

The two-day event was hosted by CJTF-HOA under the leadership of U.S. AFRICOM Commander Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, and provided the opportunity for open dialogue, to discuss the security environments of each country.
“My goal for the conference is that we synchronize the efforts of U.S. AFRICOM, and the visions of the Chiefs of Mission,” Waldhauser said. “I truly view this as partnership.”

He continued by stressing the importance of aligning regional military priorities with those of the ambassador’s host countries. According to Waldhauser, the highest priority must be placed on the concerns of the host nation, followed by those of the embassy, and lastly those of U.S. AFRICOM.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Amanda Dory recognized the unique role the embassy teams play in supporting stability and security in East Africa. She saw their role as complimentary to the regional U.S. military mission.
“Our diplomatic platforms in each of the countries are a critical part of both counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism,” Dory said.

Guest speaker Dr. Paul Williams, author of War and Conflict in Africa, gave an overview of contemporary armed conflict in East Africa, highlighting the myths and key drivers of conflict that impact regional stability.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Kurt Sonntag, commander of CJTF-HOA gave the final presentation. As a commanding general on the only permanent U.S. military installation in Africa, he is tasked to coordinate and oversee all military activities throughout the Horn of Africa on behalf of U.S. AFRICOM.

Sonntag used the opportunity to thank the embassy representatives present for their participation, and assure them that as CJTF-HOA adapts to meet future mission requirements, the commitment to support their efforts would endure.

Following the conference, Waldhauser reserved time to engage individually with U.S. ambassadors.
“It’s very important to hear [the ambassador’s] views and understand the challenges they have,” Waldhauser said. “To work with them, and find solutions to some of the challenges that are of benefit not only to U.S. or AFRICOM interests, but the interests of those particular countries as well.”