Afrika — Africom Helps Nations Build Secure Future

WASHINGTON — Sup­port­ing the work of African nations in cre­at­ing African solu­tions for African chal­lenges is the mis­sion of the newest U.S. uni­fied com­mand, a senior offi­cial of the com­mand said yes­ter­day.
Navy Vice Adm. Robert T. Moeller, deputy for mil­i­tary oper­a­tions at U.S. Africa Com­mand, explained what the com­mand does — and what it does not do — in a “DoD Live” blog­gers round­table.

“We do not lead or cre­ate pol­i­cy,” Moeller said. “Our pro­grams are designed to respond to what our African part­ners have asked us to do.” African nations want to pro­vide for their own secu­ri­ty, he added, but they wel­come help in build­ing strong, effec­tive and pro­fes­sion­al forces.

Oper­a­tions such as the Africa Part­ner­ship Sta­tion and an African mar­itime law-enforce­ment pro­gram address crimes car­ried out at sea, such as ille­gal fish­ing and drug traf­fick­ing, Moeller said, not­ing that mar­itime prob­lems have a neg­a­tive effect across the entire con­ti­nent and are espe­cial­ly vex­ing for West African nations.

One of the ways U.S. Africa Com­mand assists is by bring­ing togeth­er experts at events designed to build the capac­i­ty of defense forces, the admi­ral said.

“We send small teams to dozens of coun­tries and offer our per­spec­tive on mil­i­tary top­ics such as lead­er­ship, air­craft main­te­nance, the impor­tance of an inspec­tor-gen­er­al pro­gram, load­ing equip­ment onto air­craft for deploy­ment [and] the fin­er points of air traf­fic con­trol,” he explained. The list of sub­jects also includes port secu­ri­ty and mil­i­tary law, he added.

Africom also orga­nizes multi­na­tion­al exer­cis­es that allow par­tic­i­pants to prac­tice work­ing togeth­er to solve region­al secu­ri­ty issues. Last year’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions exer­cise, called Africa Endeav­or, was so suc­cess­ful that it will be repeat­ed this year and the num­ber of nations tak­ing part will increase from 25 to 30, Moeller said. Anoth­er exer­cise, called Flint­lock, focus­es on North and West African nations. It kicks off next month with par­tic­i­pa­tion from Euro­pean nations.

Some­times, Moeller said, the com­mand assists with civ­il projects such as dig­ging wells or build­ing schools that are rout­ed through the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment or accom­plished in response to requests from U.S. embassies.

While many pos­i­tive aspects of the com­mand go unno­ticed in the media, Moeller said, some recent arti­cles have spec­u­lat­ed erro­neous­ly that the U.S. mil­i­tary is involved inside Soma­lia.

“We don’t plan, nor direct, nor coor­di­nate mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in Soma­lia” for the country’s tran­si­tion­al fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, he said. “We have not and will not be pro­vid­ing direct sup­port for any poten­tial mil­i­tary offen­sives” by Soma­li gov­ern­ment forces.

Africom has act­ed in an advi­so­ry capac­i­ty and in a train­ing role for nations that pro­vide peace­keep­ing forces through­out Africa, such as Burun­di and Ugan­da, the main con­trib­u­tors to the African Union Mis­sion in Soma­lia, the admi­ral said, and the com­mand also lis­tens to the needs of region­al eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal groups such as the Eco­nom­ic Com­mu­ni­ty of West African States and the African Union.

Africom also sup­ports the work of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand in U.S. counter-pira­cy activ­i­ties in the Gulf of Aden and off the east coast of Soma­lia, Moeller said. Over­all, he added, the com­mand shares exper­tise but does­n’t pro­scribe how it should be applied.

“We are not impos­ing the U.S. way upon our part­ners, because it might not be the right way for them,” he said.

Moeller said he envi­sions a time when the work of U.S. Africa Com­mand con­tributes to the kind of sus­tained secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty that allows eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment and bet­ter liv­ing con­di­tions to flour­ish and to improve the lives of peo­ple across the con­ti­nent.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)