IN THE NEWS
African Land Forces Summit 15 takes place in Dakar, Senegal, Feb. 9-12. ALFS 15 brings together land force commanders from across Africa to solidify relationships, exchange information on current topics of mutual interest and concern, and seek cooperation in addressing common security concerns. (U.S. Army Africa photos by Master Sgt. Thomas Mills and Pfc. Craig Philbrick)
By Master Sgt. Thomas Mills, U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs
DAKAR, Senegal – It was about advancing friendship, partnership and building trust. That is according to Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, commander, U.S. Army Africa upon the close of the African Land Forces Summit, or ALFS, in Dakar, Senegal.
The summit, held from Feb. 9-12, brought together land force commanders from 36 African nations. The summit was co-hosted by U.S. Army Africa and the Senegalese Armed Forces on behalf of Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, U.S. Army Chief of Staff. The last ALFS took place three years prior, in Kampala, Uganda.
“This is a beginning. This is a conversation and this narrative is just beginning,” said Williams.
Part of that conversation was generated in closed-door meetings between commanders. Speakers from the U.S. and African partner militaries addressed topics such as African security challenges, peace support operations and institutional adaptation during plenary sessions with all the commanders. Commanders then split into three smaller groups, behind closed doors, to discuss the subject at hand.
The closed door approach helped leaders to speak freely during the sessions.
“ALFS is a good opportunity for USARAF and the African partners to discuss, to exchange, about security and about how to train our units,” said Brig. Gen. Cheikh Gueye, chief of Senegal Army Staff. “It is a good opportunity also to build trust,” he said. “Without trust you can’t achieve anything.”
For some of the land force commanders ALFS was an opportunity expand their reach and build relationships beyond what they normally would.
“I was already in contact with those from my region, from [Southern African Development Community] region, but today I have met others from other regions,” said Maj. Gen. Gotsileene Morake, chief of land forces Botswana. “From West Africa, from the Horn of Africa and from North Africa, we have been able to share experiences across a broad range of issues, African issues, which are actually very topical today.”