A US Africa Command delegation visit led by Ambassador Andrew Young, deputy to the commander for civil-military engagement, and US Navy Rear Admiral Heidi Berg to Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo concluded on 30 January.
The trip occurred during a critical time for Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as both countries navigate paths toward democracy and civilian-led governments. “Engagements renewed partnerships between the US and these African nations and provided opportunities to discuss commonalities, shared values, pursue mutual interests, and strengthen the regional capacity of these nations to address security challenges,” Africa Command said.
“We engaged with governments, militaries, the media, and civil society on this engagement to strengthen understanding and deepen relationships with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan,” said Young. “US Africa Command is very much viewed as a professional organization whose partnership is sought after, respected, and trusted by African nations. African partners and their citizens know who we are and what we represent. US Africa Command partnership is in very high demand because of our values and the quality of our engagement and training.”
The visit highlighted a prominent threat ISIS poses for Africa through the terrorist group’s increased partnering and interaction with local criminal and terrorist groups seeking to boost their recruitment and funding. This includes concerns about the linkages between Allied Democratic Forces and ISIS.
“US Africa Command understands the importance of combating terrorism and piracy, malign activities, and ensuring safe seas and waterways for shipping and commerce,” said Berg. “Cooperation aimed at addressing areas of shared concern is a common interest.
There are now pathways for partnership in place after the rescission of Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 2020. The rescission is key to the fundamental change in the bilateral relationship between the US and Sudan.
While a history of security cooperation between the US and the DRC goes as far back as 1974, this trip was the first visit by US Africa Command since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in October 2020. The MOU outlines a framework for focused support for partnership. The US-DRC Privileged Partnership for Peace and Security initiative highlights US partnering efforts with the DRC that includes assistance in building democratic institutions, advancing the rule of law, protecting human rights, countering human trafficking, improving governance, combatting infectious diseases, and promoting security and stability, Africa Command said.
“The countries we visited want to partner with the US, they want to improve their security, and they desire and promise a better tomorrow,” said Berg. “They are looking to build on progress and renew cooperation with the US.”
Young and Berg met with high-level government and military leaders, civil society, and the news media to connect messages to all levels of society while reflecting transparency. Additionally, the trip covered a range of activities including training, increased dialogue, improved mechanisms for coordination and information sharing, stronger regional cooperation, international contributions, and women, peace, and security initiatives that support increased inclusion and views of every citizen.
“The time is now to build partnerships, strengthen relationships, and fortify trust,” said Berg. “To do this requires a willingness to learn, a desire to improve, and a diversity of perspective.”
In Sudan, Berg was the first-ever US leader to brief at the Sudanese Numeri Higher Military Academy.
“The hallmark of an effective military is one that seeks to create a secure environment for its people, and is accountable to its civilian leadership. This requires transparency, strict adherence to the rule of law, and accountability,” said Berg.