The Royal United Services Institute was delighted to host General William Ward, Commander, United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), who presented the keynote address at the 'AFRICOM and Africa – US Security' conference.
There has been enormous global interest – and controversy – regarding the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM). Although not an entirely new initiative – AFRICOM has been in gestation for several years – it is likely to become the most significant US military initiative in Africa. AFRICOM will lead to the establishment of a unified US command for Africa. The stated goal of AFRICOM is to help build the capacity of African nations and regional and continental organisations, to promote peace and security and respond to crises on the continent. AFRICOM is also likely to have a significant developmental impact.
Although AFRICOM currently remains housed within the US European Command (EUCOM) in Germany, there has been a great deal of speculation and commentary about AFRICOM’s intentions, capabilities, launch date and headquarter[s] in Africa. There has been a mixed response from African states, with some being supportive, and others being highly critical of the endeavour. However, although there may be no consensus within or outside Africa, on how to respond to AFRICOM, no one can be in any doubt that this is a major policy initiative from Washington.
This major one day conference also featured a presentation by Ms Theresa Whelan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for African Affairs. The Conference primarily focused on a discussion of AFRICOM; but the discourse also included the wider US–Africa security relationship, and the aid/development/security nexus in Africa. The participation of AFRICOM and Department of Defence speakers, allowed conference participants to assess AFRICOM, and its implications for Africa, on the basis of first-hand information.
- General William E 'Kip' Ward, Commander, US Africa Command (AFRICOM)
- Theresa Whelan, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for African Affairs
- Dr David Francis, Director, Centre for Conflict Studies
- Josephine Osikena, Head, Democracy and Development Programme, Foreign Policy Centre (FPC)
Discussion topics included:
- AFRICOM, and US Defence Policy on Africa
- African Perspectives on AFRICOM
- Security and Development in Africa
- International Security Relationships and Africa
Click for a full conference report