In Africa, promise and opportunity sit side by side with disease, war, and desperate poverty. This threatens both a core value of the United States— preserving human dignity —and our strategic priority—combating global terror. American interests and American principles, therefore, lead in the same direction: we will work with others for an African continent that lives in liberty, peace, and growing prosperity.
Together with our allies and friends, we must help strengthen Africa’s fragile states, help build indigenous capability to secure porous borders, and help build up the law enforcement and intelligence infrastructure to deny havens for terrorists. An ever more lethal environment exists in Africa as local civil wars spread beyond borders to create regional war zones. Forming coalitions of the willing and cooperative security arrangements are key to confronting these emerging transnational threats.
The United States supports Africa peacekeeping in two major ways: through direct assistance to ongoing operations and through programs to enhance the capacity of African peacekeepers. In addition to US support for global UN peacekeeping operations — where the United States currently provides 27% of the funding for such operations.
Separately, we are providing expertise in ways that help enhance the AU’s capacity. The AU welcomes the opportunity for its staff to develop cooperative working relationships with non-African governments and organizations, such as the US and NATO.
A key element of building capacity for the AU flows from our intended support for the AU’s Africa Standby Force (ASP) and the national militaries that will make up that force. The AU plans for the ASF to provide both a rapid deployment capability to prevent mass violence or a longer-term force to sustain a peace agreement. Primary to our efforts is the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program that provides training to African regional organizations and national peacekeepers. ACOTA training activities will continue with Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Mozambique, Gabon and others, while adding additional partner countries via funding through the Global Peace Operations Initiative [GPOI]. As part of the worldwide GPOI effort, the United States expects to provide training to at least 40,000 African peacekeepers over five years.
Training peacekeepers is not enough, so we will also support logistics, communications, training and other assistance to the AU and standby brigades. For example, over the past four years we have provided over $11 million in equipment to establish and stock an ECOWAS peacekeeping logistics depot in Freetown, Sierra Leone and $9 million to ECOWAS forces in Cote d’Ivoire.
Equipment from the depot in turn has been vital in supplying ECOWAS and UN forces in Liberia, and Cote d’Ivoire, as well as AU forces in Darfur. The demonstrated value of that depot has shown that it will be worthwhile to provide equipment for the AU depot as well.
Additionally we are strengthening AU and ECOWAS communications capacity. The United States has provided some $10 million worth of computer, radio, and other communications links to help ensure that ECOWAS member states can communicate smoothly, and that AU forces have the radio equipment they need to be effective. On the training front, we look forward to extending ACOTA multinational exercises to willing regional organizations in the near future and have recently provided support to peacekeeping training centers in Ghana and Mali.
We fully support the efforts of the AU to boost its counter-terrorism (CT) capabilities. The AU has developed a strategy to create both an early warning center to counter terrorist threats and a regional CT training center as part of their CT center’s mission. We support these goals, and are exploring ways to support these efforts with training opportunities, resources to increase CT cooperation in the region, and the provision of expert advice and guidance. We already have provided some $250,000, for example, to help set up an anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist finance assistance program in West Africa through West Africa’s Inter-Governmental Anti-Money Laundering Group. Most important, we will be working with our African partners to encourage the provision of adequate funding, personnel and support to the African Center for the Study and Research on Terrorism in Algiers. The Department will be supporting a conference in February at the AU Center that will draw resources from trans-Saharan countries into the Center’s mission.
ECOWAS — The Economic Community of West African States
Nigeria plays a lead role, with French-speaking Senegal senior among ECOWAS’s Francophone members. ECOWAS has one of the continent’s most effective military arms. Its deployments have served as precursors to UN peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, and Sierra Leone, with ECOWAS still retaining a presence in both Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.