The African Union, in conjunction with U.S. Africa Command, hosted the Africa Logistics Symposium 2018, formerly known as Africa Logistics Forum, between 11 and 13 April at the AU compound in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The event hosted more than 80 attendees, which included logistical professionals from across 21 African countries, four European countries, Japan, and Brazil.
This is the fifth year AFRICOM J4 has co-sponsored this event with the AU, said, Lt. Col. Harvey Wolff, chief of plans and engagements, AFRICOM J4.
“The event is designed to bring together all 55 member nations of the AU to discuss logistics around the continent of Africa,” said Wolff.
The theme for this year’s event was strategic lift.
“This includes air, maritime, and ground movement capabilities,” said Mor Mbow, chief of mission support operations, Peace and Support Division, African Union.
Last year’s theme was the operationalization of the Continental Logistical Base in Douala, Cameroon, along with regional logistical depots throughout Africa, in support of the Africa Standby Force.
“This year we are discussing how we will move assets in support of the ASF,” Wolff said. “The biggest challenge, as with anything, is personnel and equipment,” said Wolff.
Mbow explained that the AU has found major gaps in strategic lift capabilities after having conducted exercises and fiscal assessments in the economic communities in some of the African Union member states.
“Our role is to support the commander in his efforts in accomplishing his mission, whatever that mission might be,” Wolf said. “I think if you speak with any commander, the first thing they’ll note is that nothing moves without logistics.
The purpose of logistics is to enhance capabilities, not hinder, according to Wolff.
“This symposium is a major milestone as we are implementing the African Standby Force (ASF) Maputo Strategic Five Year Work Plan 2016-2020 to strengthen the operational readiness of the ASF,” said Dr. Admore Kambudzi, agriculture Director of Peace and Security, AU.
The Maputo Strategic Five Year Work Plan 2016-2020, is an AU document that was drafted to define the post-full operational capability phase of the ASF. It includes indicators, deliverables and timelines for the ASF components, recommendations on partnership, harmonious work plans and the mobilization of resources by the AU, member states and regional economic communities and regional mechanisms.
Getting partners to weigh in and commit to the cause as they have done in the past is vital for overall success and supports defense, diplomacy, and development, said Wolff.
“The 3-D approach applies to logistics a lot more than in other areas because again, nothing moves without logistics,” Wolff said.
International partner nations are also invested in the successfulness of strategic lift and provide unique contributions to fill possible gaps in logistical support in Africa, said Wolff.
“It’s a great honor for me to be here at the AFS,” said Maj. Kenji Kawauchi, Japanese Joint staff J-4, Japanese Self-Defense Forces. “I want to bring the information back to the Japanese joint staff to discuss what we can do more for the AU.”
What our strategic partners bring to the table is absolutely critical, Wolff stated.
“They support us everything we do around the continent, they’re strong supporters of AFRICOM, the U.S., and we look forward to their continued support,” said Wolff.
U.S. Africa Command continues is mission of working with partners to promote regional security, stability, and prosperity for a safe, stable, and prosperous Africa.