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United States Africa Command: helping build security and stability: Recognizing that the security and stability of East African nations is tied to America's strategic interests, the United States African Command is forging a partnership with those nations. The key to success? Facilitating African solutions to African problems.

The challenges and opportunities of African nations parallel the immensity of their geography and the dynamic complexity of their people. Their stability and security are strategic interests for the United States; and the U.S. Africa Command, along with its component commands, plays a critical role in helping address those challenges. The Command seeks to increase stability and decrease threats to American citizens and U.S. national interests through its partnerships with the African nations' security sectors and their regional organizations.

The threats to America and Americans are most acute from East Africa, with al-Qa'ida and al-Shabaab in Somalia. As the Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Leon Panetta, stated as part of his responses submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee in June 2011, "The threat from al-Shabaab to the U.S. and Western interests in the Horn of Africa and to the U.S. homeland is significant and on the rise." That region is the highest priority for U.S. Africa Command. The operations, exercises, and sustained, focused engagements with partner nations in East Africa illustrate the Command's approach across the vast Area of Responsibility of the African continent (excluding Egypt) and island nations.

This article explores how the U.S. Africa Command and its Component Commands are addressing regional threats both by working with partner nations and regional organizations and also through interagency collaboration. The article also discusses the direction for U.S. security approaches in the future and, finally, it outlines those skills needed by resource managers to support these activities effectively.

Command Mission and Approach

The U.S. Africa Command's mission recently was revised by General Carter Ham, Commander of the U.S. Africa Command. It states, "Africa Command protects and defends the national security interests of the U.S. by strengthening the defense capabilities of African States and regional organizations and, when directed, conducts military operations, in order to deter and defeat transnational threats and to provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development." This mission underpins the Command's operations and is a reflection of the commitment to a sustainable approach.

Facilitating African solutions to African problems is clearly the best way to ensure long-term security and stability in Africa. This approach builds on the African peoples' commitment to providing for their own security and stability as evidenced by their deployments of peacekeeping forces. As cited in General Ham's posture testimony on April 5, 2011, African forces compose 30 percent of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping forces worldwide and 50 percent of all peacekeeping forces in Africa. Between 25,000 and 40,000 personnel from African forces are deployed for UN and African Union (AU) peacekeeping missions at any given time. In fact, five African countries are in the top 15 UN troop-contributing countries, and Uganda and Burundi are the most significant contributors for the AU Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia.

Not surprisingly, countries with fragile economies typically lack resources. In some cases, histories of repressive security forces limit the capabilities and capacity of African nations' security forces. According to the UN, 36 of the 50 least developed nations in the world are located on the African continent, to include countries that are contributing troops for peacekeeping missions. Significant contributions from international organizations and other nations will be required for the foreseeable future, so African nations will be able to contribute to peacekeeping operations and to effectively deal with the threats to stability.

Challenges of East Africa

A majority of the deployed African peacekeeping forces are in East Africa, where they are assisting with the most difficult challenges on the continent: al-Qa'ida and al-Shabaab in Somalia, the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Southern Sudan's challenges with regard to peaceful governance, and the Darfur mission. Until they are resolved, these transnational challenges will threaten not only U.S. interests and American citizens but also inhibit economic stability globally.

As illustrated by the Kampala bombing in June 2010, al-Shabaab can be expected to continue to export violence beyond the borders of Somalia. More significantly, the alliance with al-Qa'ida has facilitated the opening of training camps within Somalia for al-Qa'ida's transnational aspirations.

The current famine conditions in Somalia, which continue to worsen, have focused the world on their situation. Those conditions, in part, were created by the continuing conflict and the lack of effective governance in Somalia over the past 20 years. UN Secretary General Bon Ki-moon has stated that the Horn of Africa is facing a catastrophic combination of conflict, high food prices, and drought and has called for additional contributions of $1.3 billion to alleviate the suffering. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that 29,000 Somali children under the age of five have died in the last 90 days as of early August in Southern Somalia, and the U.N. estimates that another 640,000 are acutely malnourished.

Interagency Collaboration

While the aid agencies are in the lead to help with this humanitarian disaster, the U.S. Africa Command is focused on planning for Department of Defense (DoD) support to humanitarian operations, as may be required. in fact, at a joint presentation by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State at the National Defense University on August 16, 2011, Secretary Panetta stated that the response to the Somalia famine is a good example of the close collaboration between the Departments of Defense and State. The U.S. Africa Command's role is to be prepared to provide whatever assistance may be requested for such humanitarian efforts to be successful. In addition to being prepared to execute crisis response missions, the Command has developed a campaign plan for East Africa to build toward long-term stability across the region. The Command's approach is three-fold: deter/defeat violent extremism, promote regional cooperation, and build capable and sustainable security forces.


Underpinning all Command activities and operations is the concept of the "Three Ds": diplomacy, development, and defense. It is only through a balanced, integrated interagency approach that there will be sustainable stability. To support this approach, the Command includes approximately 40 interagency representatives. They operate on a daily basis within the planning teams; lead divisions, branches, and teams within the Command; and regularly brief the Commander and staff. In addition, the Command coordinates all actions through the Embassy staff and has approximately 170 personnel in 23 embassies across the continent to help plan the security sector engagements with partner nations. It is only through a collaborative approach that the U.S. Government's efforts will be fully effective in increasing African security.


Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (Combined Joint Interagency Task Force-East Africa Operations)

In East Africa, the Africa Command's activities and operations are largely conducted by the forces assigned to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). The CJTF-HOA conducts operations in the Combined Joint Operations Area to enhance partner nation capacity, promote regional stability, dissuade conflict, and protect U.S. and coalition interests. Its engagements are coordinated through a headquarters element that now is being transformed to the Combined Joint Interagency Task Force-East Africa. The Joint Task Force employs approximately 1,800 forces at any given time across the 19 countries of East Africa, which covers approximately the same geographic area as the continental U.S. The mission of the JTF nests within the mission of the Command with the same three-track approach. The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa mission is to conduct operations in the Combined Joint Operating Area to enhance partner nation capacity, promote regional stability, dissuade conflict, and protect and U.S. and coalition interests.

The Joint Task Force (JTF) engages in a range of activities with a wide range of partners, including U.S. interagency partners as well as African partner nations. A key operation has been the use of JTF forces, together with forces assigned to U.S. Army Africa, to support Department of State training of Ugandan and Burundian forces prior to their deployment for the AU Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). Approximately 5,300 soldiers have been trained so far in fiscal year (FY) 2011. Recently, AMISOM and Somalian Transitional Federal Government forces have had significant successes in regaining Mogadishu from al-Shabaab control. Section 1206 funds, jointly managed by the Departments of Defense and State, have been used to train and equip Ugandan forces to improve their counterterrorism capabilities. Both Section 1206 equipment and the Department of State-funded training are critical to help the regional African militaries effectively deal with the transnational threats of al-Qa'ida, alShabaab, and the Lord's Resistance Army.

JTF elements also engage with the other nations in East Africa to increase their security forces' capabilities as well as to support partner nations in providing for security and stability. For example, CJTFHOA forces have worked for the past three years with the Kenyan Navy to improve their maritime skills. U. S. Africa Command's Navy Component, Naval Forces Europe-Africa, also supports engagements with maritime elements of East Africa as part of the Africa Partnership Station efforts, an international security cooperation initiative. Additionally, JTF engineers have partnered over the last several years with members of the Kenyan Ministry of Defense in further enhancing partner nation military engineering capacity.

These efforts help reinforce the stability of the regions, which are vulnerable to further destabilizing effects, in part, due to demographics. To illustrate, among sub-Saharan states, 43 percent of the population is under 15 years of age, a prime population either for increased economic stability or increased destabilization if there are inadequate opportunities. To help our partner nations improve governance and meet the needs of the population, the U.S. Africa Command, when possible, supports civil affairs activities directly through the Command and through the CJTF-HOA. For example, U.S. Civil Affairs teams have deployed to key locations model civil-military operations to partner nation military forces assisting in enhancing the ability of the partner nation to deliver basic government services.


The events of today as well as the indications for the future clearly dictate that we will need to have a presence in East Africa for the foreseeable future. The Command has identified core headquarters manning of approximately 340 personnel for the CJIATF-HOA to manage the complex range of operations, exercises, and engagements that will be needed for the foreseeable future. Our operations, exercises, and engagements support the African nations and address the security challenges in the region by providing support in terms of enablers, tactics, techniques, equipment, and training. Our investment in capabilities for willing African militaries directly reduces threats to the U.S. and helps provide sustainable security for the African continent.


The CJTF-HOA is the largest single tenant at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, where all U.S. forces total approximately 3,400 at any given time. Camp Lemonnier is the only permanent location for U.S. Africa Command activities on the continent and supports four combatant commands from this location. Those operations continue to be funded with Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds, while the infrastructure investments are funded with Military Construction base funds. Going forward, a host Service must be designated to fund logistics support in the base budget.

Building Regional Organizations' Capacity

Based on the U.S. Africa Command's experience and insights garnered from African leaders, the U.S. military can best help address African security challenges through African regional organizations. At present, however, most U.S. legal authorities are for bi-lateral arrangements rather than with regional organizations. Thus, while the Command's work with regional organizations is critical, it requires intensive management to meet the bi-lateral requirements with each activity.


By leveraging joint exercises, the Command has been able to help develop regional capability. A major recent success is the opening of the African Union Peace Support Operations Center (PSOC). The PSOC will allow the coordination of peacekeeping activities across all five AU regions. The Center was supported by CJTF-HOA, and its operational effectiveness was tested during the Command's African Endeavor 11 exercise, which simulated the management of an earthquake scenario and tested communications and control equipment.

Resource Challenges

There are numerous resourcing challenges in fulfilling the Command's mission, ranging from the complexities of OCO funding versus base funding; constraints in current authorities that limit working with regional organizations; funding logistics support for partner nation actions when they are not part of combined U.S. operations; and working with security organizations other than militaries.

The U.S. Africa Command and CJTF-HOA personnel are experts in the specific authorities to enable the operations, exercises, and security engagement. They employ all available legal authorities, such as the set of Traditional Combatant Commander Authorities, Combatant Commander Initiative Funds, and Acquisition Cross Servicing Agreements. We also employ new authorities, such as the Africa Cooperation Authority, and, as available, the Department of State's Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative funding. in total, there are about 25 different funding programs and/or appropriations managed by the Command.

While this complexity creates inefficiencies and introduces risk in the proper execution of funds, it is clear that partnering with African nations and regional organizations is the best alternative for improved stability. As a result of the current complex resource situation and the likelihood that it will continue for the foreseeable future, there are three initiatives that could help in reducing the risk of mission impact due to resourcing issues:

1. More resource managers must become familiar with the current authorities for training and exercising with partner nations as well as providing logistics support;

2. Resource managers should be included early in the planning of operations or activities, since funding options are increasingly complex and, more than likely, will involve multiple funding streams, some of which may be outside of the DoD; and

3. The business rules for the use of OCO funding should be revisited so funds are available quickly for crisis responses that are related to counter terrorism activities, irrespective of a preestablished geographic boundary.

The U.S. Africa Command has maximized the use of available authorities and the multiple funding streams to meet our mission requirements. The complexities of the resource environment, however, continue to create challenges for the basic approach of the Command toward building security and stability in the African nations.


The African continent offers tremendous opportunities and challenges. The U.S. Africa Command can play a key role in ensuring that African national security organizations and regional African organizations can effectively address the threats to their stability and security. It is an urgent mandate and the Command's approach of increasing the capacity of partner nations, while challenging to implement, that provides the best opportunity for sustained success.

Note: The author compiled this article from U.S. Africa Command and other sources as cited.



Jeanne Karstens most recently served as the J1/18 for the U.S. Africa Command prior to her retirement after 30 years in DoD resource management positions. In her most recent position, she led a team of some 100 committed, hard-working, and highly professional military members and civilians. She notes that, over the course of her federal career, she has been honored to serve with the dedicated and talented Service members, civilians, and contractors who selflessly meet the defense needs of the nation every day. Ms. Karstens holds a master's degree in public administration from American University and an undergraduate degree from Central College, Iowa. She is a long-time member of the ASMC, currently with the Greater Stuttgart Chapter.
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Author:Karstens, Jeanne
Publication:Armed Forces Comptroller
Geographic Code:6SOMA
Date:Sep 22, 2011
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