The United States Army has recently combined its Europe and Africa branches. Considering this consolidation, the US Army held a media briefing that communicated its continued commitment to its African allies. The briefing also discussed the multinational African Lion training exercise scheduled for June 2021.
The first speaker, General Christopher Cavoli, Commanding General, US Army Europe and Africa (the new name for the command), spoke from the Southern European Task Force, Africa headquarters in Vicenza, Italy.
Cavoli began by expressing his sympathies and condolences for the death of Ambassador Luca Attanasio in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Luca was killed along with carabiniere Vittorio Lacovacci when six gunmen attempted to kidnap him during a World Food Programme convey that was travelling from Goma to Rutshuru, North Kivu.
The US Army sees the Europe and Africa command consolidation as a move towards modernization that will allow it to expand and enhance focus on both European and African security issues. Cavoli added that it is also a consolidation of capabilities with greater synchronization of operations in Africa with NATO allies, many of whom have security concerns and interests in Africa. The consolidation will also allow forces to shift dynamically from one theatre to another. “The new combined headquarters is going to provide administrative backbone and strategic-level guidance for all land forces from the United States in both Europe and Africa,” said Cavoli.
Exercise African Lion is the US Africa Commands flagship exercise for the year. It will allow the US to work out interoperability issues with African partners and European allies. It will occur at the same time as the US Army Europe exercise Defence 20, which is linked to NATO exercise Steadfast Defender. African Lion 2020 was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and this year’s exercise will include 10 000 troops and about 20 partner nations, to be conducted in Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia.
In the question and answer portion of the briefing, Cavoli commended European allies’ current involvement in African security issues, highlighting France’s support in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, aerial refuelling, and transport in Mali. China’s increasing involvement in African security issues was bought up, to which the US is committed to providing an alternative to partnering with an actor that may undermine the economic, political and security institutions.
Major General Andrew Rohling, Deputy Commanding General, US Army Europe and Africa, highlighted that there has been success with the US Army’s Security Force Assistance Brigade, whose purpose is to build an organization capable of training partners and training with partners to increase their capacity. They are mainly focused on logistics, fire support, mission command and maintenance, as Andrew stated, “…it’s been quite effective and we’re really excited to see this capability grow across Africa.” Cavoli added that another brigade will be formed this year for the European theatre.
The media briefing took place on 23 February, on the same day the Generals departed for meetings in Tunisia.