Twenty-five military officers from Saudi Arabia travelled to Stuttgart to learn about the mission and programmes of US Africa Command.
The officers are participants in the year-long Saudi Arabia War Course, a professional development programme designed for those with potential for high level leadership opportunities within the Saudi Arabian military. The Saudis developed the course some years ago using the US Army War College as a model.
For the past few years, each Saudi Arabia War Course class has made the trip to learn about US European Command. For the first time, AFRICOM was added to the agenda based on a desire by leaders for their officers to learn more about the command’s mission and programmes in Africa. The Saudis heard presentations from EUCOM in the morning and from AFRICOM in the afternoon during a full day of briefings conducted at the US Army Garrison Stuttgart this month.
Teaming with other countries in Africa was a key topic of discussion. “In working with partners, we’re trying to move from bilateral to a more regional approach,” said AFRICOM’s director of plans and strategy, US Navy Rear Admiral Kevin Kovacich.
Another part of AFRICOM’s strategy is based on a whole of government approach to helping build capacity and capability on the continent.
“Somalia – now there’s a government emerging,” said AFRICOM director for outreach, Ambassador Donald Koran. “Protecting the population and the state is the first responsibility of any government and we can see how the Somali government has grown in the past five years. It takes time but progress has been made.”
Retired Major General Mohammed Qubaiban, the senior Saudi officer present and mentor to current active duty officers in the course, thanked AFRICOM staff for making time to meet with the Saudis.
“It’s good to hear from you and to try and understand that although we may have some differences, there are also shared concerns,” said Mohammed. “It is in common areas where we can build understanding and opportunities to work together.”