Sustained focus would make US-Africa partnerships “more reliable”

The United States can be a more reliable partner with African nations if US Africa Command devotes constant attention to the continent, a top Africom official told US reporters at the Foreign Press Centre in Washington DC this morning.
“Up until now, we were episodic in our military and civilian engagements on the continent. We were not there in a constant form,” Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates, Africom`s deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, added.
“If we concentrate on Africa 24/7,” she continued, “we hope that we will be able to garner enough resources to be able to be a more reliable partner with the African nations.”

Invoking Africom commander General William Ward, Yates said the partnership requires sustained security engagement. The four main goals of the newest US combatant command, she said, are reducing conflict, improving security, defeating violent extremism and supporting crisis response.

In congressional testimony in March, Ward outlined the conditions for US involvement on the continent, saying America will intervene in conflicts only after warring countries have shown a political will to reconcile.
“The actions that we take come on the heels of a policy decision having been taken by the nations themselves,” Ward told the House Armed Services Committee on March 18.

Asked today about criticism that Africom is emblematic of an increasing militarisation of US foreign policy, Yates demurred, noting that Africom’s “whole of government” approach could serve as a model.
“Having lived and worked this for the last two years, I would say this is the exact opposite [of militarisation],” she said.