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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of African Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2006: African Affairs Remarks

Your Role in Africa's Evolving Security Challenges: The Next Generation of African Military Leaders Program

Jendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
Remarks to Africa Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University
Washington, DC
January 10, 2006

Introduction

Good morning, and thank you, General Fulford, for that kind introduction. It is a pleasure to be here with all of you this morning. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies has an important role to play, as we seek to cement the relationship between the U.S. Government and those of the many Sub-Saharan nations represented in this room today.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to address the next generation of African military leaders. You are here because you represent the promise of your nation. You also represent the future of your continent.

I believe that we are living in a period of unique opportunity for Africa. Every day, people across the continent are making great progress in a variety of ways. There are many reasons to be hopeful, and we here in the U.S., are optimistic.

President Bush and Secretary Rice have made Africa a policy priority, and I am proud to stand before you as a member of their team. The United States-Africa relationship has grown exponentially closer in recent years. First Lady Laura Bush’s trip last July to South Africa, Rwanda, and Tanzania – including Zanzibar – and her announced return for the inauguration of Liberian president-elect, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as well as Secretary Rice’s trip to Senegal and Sudan just two weeks after the G-8 meeting in Gleneagles underscore the importance we place on this relationship.

The President has directed his Administration to make the world "safer, better, and freer." The result has been a team with bold plans for Africa, and we plan to continue actively engaging with the continent’s leaders and people, as we have for the last five years.

Today, I would like to share with you my vision for the continent, putting particular emphasis on the crucial role that everyone in this room can play, as representatives of military organizations. I would like my remarks to be the beginning of a dialogue, as opposed to the final word, because going forward, I believe that our relationship will increasingly be one of collaboration with the people of Africa, as well as their organizations.

So, I will present three key points that I believe will illuminate what I see as the Africa’s evolving security challenges. In short, those are: the end of war, increasing democratization, and the building of security architecture.

The End of War

I firmly believe that Africa is heading toward a future free of conflict and war. I also believe that we are on the cusp, and that we can put an end to every single war that is still ongoing in Africa. We are moving along swiftly in that direction. We have had six major wars in the last five years that have progressed toward post-conflict situations. Those are: Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the North-South element of the Sudan crisis.

We see that Africans are increasingly taking control of their own collective destiny, with the African Union (AU) and its New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) Program of Action, contributing to better governance across the continent. Burundi now has a government up and running. Liberia and Democratic Republic of the Congo are moving beyond transition to elected governments.

Democratic government is the key to transition and long-term peace on the continent. After all, it is a truism that democracies don’t go to war against each other.

The trend lines for democracy in Africa are doing well, but we have to consolidate and codify the gains of the last 15 years. Elections have taken place widely. Power has changed hands in a number of key nations, from Senegal to Kenya, and from Ghana to Zambia. So, we have had successful elections.

However, if we look at what Secretary Rice calls "transformational diplomacy," I believe that over the next two or three years, we must move beyond elections as the measure of freedom and move toward supporting the efforts of African people to achieve real democracy through government accountability and effective, independent institutions. We need to make sure that the democratic momentum that the continent is now enjoying is lasting.

On a global level, Secretary Rice has called for the State Department to work toward uniting the community of democracies in building an international system that is based on our shared values and the rule of law. The nations of Africa are undoubtedly part of that community.

Democracy

As all of you know, Africa is not a continent ruled mostly by one-party states and military governments. Since 2000, more than two-thirds of sub-Saharan African countries have had democratic elections.

The African Union’s emphasis on good governance has been paying dividends. Democracy is taking root, and everyday people are reaping the benefits.

I have seen the positive trends first-hand, which is why I come before you today as an advocate of individual liberty and rights. Free societies work best when buffeted by the essential components of democracy, whether that is a free press, an independent judiciary, sound financial systems, strong labor unions, or vibrant political parties.

We must continue to work on the NEPAD vision, particularly trying to support its peer review mechanism, so that African leaders can hold their peers to account for good governance practices.

The military has an important role to play in this regard. This is a new era. In past decades, military leaders were feared and periodically served as a countervailing force to the sitting government. When military coups occurred, participants offered various justifications, but all of them ignored the soldier’s oath. For a military to be truly professional, its members must adhere to their promise to protect their nation, its institutions, and most importantly, the nation’s Constitution.

You are one of the pillars of a strong civil society. You provide security and order within your borders. It is your responsibility to protect your nation and its people.

Today, Africa basks in the light of Lady Liberty. Civilians engage in political back and forth; there are opposition parties; military coups are historical artifacts. To borrow from the French, in Africa today, a coup d’etat is passé.

The way forward is through the ballot box. Democracy is progressing, and our next goal is to support and nourish opposition leaders who want to serve in their national governments. We seek the sort of leaders who intend to be democrats, grapple with the people’s problems, and work for the betterment of society at large.

Additionally, we will continue to support independent national election commissions, since these organizations typically conduct elections and then count the votes. These institutions must be strong; such strength instills confidence in members of civil society that elections are both free and fair.

Africans across the continent are embracing the right to choose their leaders and shape their national governments. As a result, the continent is not only freer, but also safer and better for it.

The U.S. offers security assistance to your nations by supporting programs such as the one here at ACSS that brought all of you here today. We believe that it is important that members of the military view themselves as stakeholders in a free society and work to support democratic institutions. We believe that a more professional and apolitical military force is likely to best serve the needs of the domestic population, as well as the region and the world.

Ideally, you will be in a position to support an alternative, peaceful process to resolve any conflict that may arise. The South Africans have demonstrated an exemplary model. Like Kenyan marathoners, the reputation of South African mediators precedes them. When the South African delegation enters the room, participants know that the South Africans will help the parties find a resolution to the issue at hand. The South Africans are doggedly persistent – and consistently successful.

On a personal note, when I was in Liberia last October, there was a sign that read, "Ghana brings peace." That pithy statement seemed to encapsulate four decades of partnership and hope among Africa’s peoples. Ghanaian peacekeepers have brought peace to Africa since their first deployment in the Congo during the 1960s. Africa’s tradition of conflict mediation and peacekeeping dates back over 40 years. As we look ahead, we hope to work with African states to shore-up your skills and capacity to mediate and resolve conflicts.

Security Architecture

For Africa to maintain peace both domestically and across borders, we need to ensure that we have a solid security architecture in place. It is under this heading, that I would like to consider the laudable job that African peacekeepers have been doing to calm conflicts across the continent, as well as address the strategic elements that involve U.S. participation.

Africans have demonstrated true dedication and resolve, with regard to conflict mediation and resolution. I am absolutely adamant that it is vitally important that the United States continue to support such mediation efforts, as well as strengthen the capacity for Africans to carry out peace support operations. It is not our place to take over those missions; we want to work in concert with you, as partners.

Africans have clearly been sharing the burden of maintaining international peace and security operations by supplying 30% of the United Nations’ (UN) peacekeeping forces worldwide. Four African nations – Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa – are among the UN’s top ten troop contributors.

Africans now make up over one-third of all peacekeepers deployed globally, and the need for properly trained and equipped peacekeepers is greater than ever before. Since 1997, U.S. training and assistance has mostly been implemented through the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program. The decision to join this program and then deploy ACOTA-trained troops is a sovereign national decision on the part of the partner nation, but it is a process that the U.S. encourages.

The program introduces the host military to a range of Peace Support Operations (PSO) tasks. ACOTA seeks to complement and support efforts by: the European Union, NATO, and our European allies’ peacekeeping training efforts. ACOTA has provided field training for African peacekeepers, plus command and staff training and exercises for battalion, brigade, and multinational force headquarters personnel.

The U.S. believes strongly in the ACOTA program. In 2005, we put about $29 million into it, and in 2007, our investment in the program is expected to rise to $48 million. To date, ACOTA has provided training and non-lethal equipment, such as uniforms, mine detectors and water purification equipment, to over 26,000 peacekeepers from 13 African nations.

In FY 2004, ACOTA-trained African peacekeepers deployed to Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Sudan, and Lebanon.

Since 2003, the AU has moved toward fulfilling a bold vision for a more engaged approach to conflict mediation and response, including a plan to stand up an African Standby Force. In response to this vision and great need, the Department of State and Department of Defense will work together and seek to greatly expand peacekeeping training activities by enhancing the ACOTA program, via the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative (GPOI).

The United States will put $660 million into the GPOI program over the next five years, while also continuing to work with the AU and sub-regional organizations, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). ECOWAS has demonstrated top-notch capabilities in peacekeeping and addressing conflicts in its sub-region.

U.S. engagement with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) is not quite as far along, but we look forward to working with SADC nations to build up the sub-region, as well as the standby forces proposed by the African Union.

The Bureau of African Affairs will also continue to work cooperatively with the Department of Defense on information sharing and training activities that enhance the public diplomacy aspects of American conflict resolution efforts.

Conclusion

We believe that these training and assistance programs are important; they are working; and together, we are all moving toward a more peaceful and more secure world. As the future of your military, as well as your nation as a whole, you have an important role to play.

There are a great many reasons to be proud of the accomplishments of the African continent over the last several decades. The years ahead offer even more reasons for optimism. Great promise lies this way – for the end of war, the strengthening of civil society and democratic rule, and the growth of dynamic institutions to support the continent’s security architecture. I look forward to working with all of you, as partners, in the years ahead.

Thank you again for inviting me to be here with you today, and now, I would be happy to take any questions. 



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