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June 6, 2023

Ambassador Davis Ba’s Remarks at ALFS Closing Ceremony

I am honored to stand before you today at the closing ceremony of the 2023 Africa Land Forces Summit in beautiful Abidjan.

This summit – hosted by U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa in partnership with Côte d’Ivoire – has become a vital platform to foster cooperation and collaboration among African nations, the United States, and other international partners.

Together, we are addressing shared security challenges on this diverse and vibrant continent.

The United States is deeply committed to supporting African nations in their pursuit of peace, stability, and prosperity.

We are deeply committed to building partnerships.

The security and well-being of our African partners are intrinsically linked to global security.

We recognize that terrorism poses a significant threat to the safety of citizens and their ability to develop and sustain democratic institutions.

We stand by your side to address the root causes of violence and insecurity.

We stand by your side to create the conditions for peace.

Our societies depend on their military – on you – to ensure national security and to create the necessary conditions for a peace dividend.

This peace dividend enables economic growth and social development, fostering a stable environment in which businesses can thrive, and communities can prosper.

The role of the military – your role – is to safeguard the foundations of democracy, protect human rights, and uphold the rule of law. In doing so, you contribute to building a society where citizens can live without fear, where all can participate in the democratic process, where each of our nations can reach its full potential.

This is commendable service to your nation and our global community.

The United States’ partnership with Côte d’Ivoire serves as an outstanding example of the U.S. commitment to security cooperation in Africa.

We work alongside our Ivoirian partners to strengthen collaboration and enhance the capabilities of both our armed forces.

In doing so, we have created a foundation to also strengthen the defense forces of our partners, especially in their relationship to the citizens they serve.

Côte d’Ivoire partnered with us to organize the Flintlock exercise, both in 2022 and 2023. U.S. and Ivoirian security and defense forces engage in Joint Combined Exchange Training exercises. And Ivoirian officers attend prestigious military institutions in the United States under our International Military Education and Training program.

Our cooperation enhances our soldiers’ professional development, broadens our shared understanding of global security challenges, and ultimately sharpens military skills to mitigate security threats.

And yet – there is no military-only solution to our shared threats.

President Biden launched the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability, a 10-year plan that demonstrates our commitment to supporting our partners to mitigate threats and prevent conflict.

This forward-looking initiative is building resilient communities to combat violent extremism in five Coastal West African countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Benin, Togo, and Guinea.

By building resilience in communities across these partner nations, we can prevent the spread of extremism from the Sahel. The initiative emphasizes the importance of a proactive approach to security through building trust between communities and security forces.

For example, a U.S.-funded community radio project invites security forces and community leaders on air to discuss issues creating tension among communities.

This new U.S. strategy is guided by the principle of prevention based on social cohesion, responsiveness, and accountability.

These principles are the foundation for stability.

We cannot speak of instability without mention of the influx of malign propaganda and disinformation campaigns on the continent. There are some who seek to undermine the very fabric of our societies through discrediting democracy.
But despite the false promises of those who spread such deceit, there are no military shortcuts to building a vibrant, safe, and healthy society.

The foundation of a strong democracy is built on the unwavering commitment of the military and government to maintain trust, transparency, and accountability with its citizens.

It is through this trust that we can ensure the resilience and stability of our institutions that create a viable ecosystem to sustain economic growth and support development.

As this week-long event draws to a close, we are confident that the relationships forged here will be a foundation for the future.

It is through these connections that our military leaders and personnel can better serve their functions and work together to address the myriad of security challenges we all face.

Our shared experiences at this summit underscore the importance of continuous dialogue, cooperation, and mutual understanding as we advance our joint efforts to uphold the security and stability of our nations.

Thank you once again for the opportunity to address this distinguished gathering. May the spirit of unity and cooperation that brings us together here in Abidjan continue to guide our efforts as we strive to create a brighter future.

As President Biden said at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the United States is “all in” on Africa’s future…African success and prosperity is essential for a better future for all of us, not just for Africa.”

We look forward to charting this future with you. Thank you.