ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Military leaders from 42 African countries, the U.S. Army, state partnership program leaders, allies and global partners, and diplomatic representatives from across the world gathered to discuss and develop cooperative security solutions during the 8th African Land Forces Summit, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 18-21.
ALFS is a four-day summit that promotes candid dialogue amongst senior leaders to strengthen relationships and improve transnational security and stability issues. The theme for ALFS 20 was “Tomorrow’s security demands leadership today.”
“This summit is an opportunity for military leaders to explore the importance of developing defense institutions that develop and train professional and accountable military forces,” said Ethiopia National Defense Force Chief of Staff Gen. Adem Mohammad during the opening ceremony, held Feb. 18. “I hope our discussion this week will highlight the importance of collective efforts to realize our common goal of a safe, stable and prosperous African continent.”
African land force chiefs participated in three plenary sessions that consisted of guest speaker panel presentations followed by moderated discussions. Plenary session topics were themed; 21st-century challenges, developing leaders in defense institutions, and leadership in crisis response operations.
This year, the largest gathering of senior enlisted leaders attended the summit with representation from over 20 nations. Topics of discussion were specific to the development of the non-commissioned officer corps. Themed sessions gave enlisted leaders the opportunity to discuss; progression and integration of female NCO leaders, support of NCO development in Africa and resiliency in the multinational environment. For the first time, two female sergeants major from Africa attended: one from Malawi and one from Ethiopia.
“This is our largest command senior enlisted leaders’ engagement that we have had so far during the African Land Forces Summit,” said U.S. Army Africa Command Sgt. Maj. Charles W. Gregory. “The conversations and collaboration on important topics that we discuss here are then taken back to their respective countries and presented to the officers and soldiers within their militaries. We are hoping these lessons are implemented and have a positive impact on the total force.”
In addition to the scheduled events, this summit ensured participants had ample time to build lasting relationships.
“Partnerships are key to security and stability in Africa,” said U.S. Africa Command Commanding General Gen. Stephen Townsend. “Events like the African Land Forces Summit bring partners together, spark discussion and collaboration, and help generate African-led solutions. Through partnerships, we can better counter malign actors while improving security and stability on the continent.”
In his closing remarks, Townsend said, “Together, we can further our collective vision for African-led peace across the continent.”