The Growing Strategic Importance of Africa for NATO and the United States

By Jones, James L. | Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly, January 15, 2006 | Go to article overview

The Growing Strategic Importance of Africa for NATO and the United States


Jones, James L., Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly


This contribution is based on a statement presented by General James L. Jones, NATO Supreme Allied Commander and Commander of US European Command, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 28 September, 2005.

I. INTRODUCTION

In addition to discussing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's mission to support the African Union's Mission in Sudan, I also want to share U.S. European Command's broader strategy for Africa that is designed to protect U.S. interests in the region while developing the capacities of nations to more effectively address security and stability challenges.

Our history of bringing stability to areas plagued by ethnic and cultural conflict has prepared us to broaden our focus to the east and south. Instability in Africa is generally caused by variations on a consistent theme: weak political institutions and security structures lack the ability to address extremist influences and illegal activities. Our goal is to assist nations to build effective, responsive governments and to develop security structures supportive of emerging democratic governments. Our success depends on maintaining relevant, focused, and complementary security cooperation, tailored to the political, social, economic, and military realities in Africa.

As we work together to improve our capabilities and to advance U.S. policy objectives, we must also recognize that today's complex security environment requires a greater degree of coordination within our own government and among our allies. EUCOM's plan to promote cooperative security relationships, enhance the capacity of foreign partners, and expand cohesion amongst government agencies is consistent with these goals. We must leverage the full spectrum of diplomatic, economic, information, and military options to advance our national interests and improve our ability to bring peace to areas of current conflict, prevent future conflict and achieve post- conflict stability where necessary.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) remains our most important strategic partnership. The extended period of peace and prosperity in Europe is the result of our engagement within the Alliance. The United States is a direct beneficiary of this stability. The economic, social, and security ties between the United States and the countries of Europe are long-standing and firmly rooted in shared ideals. Just as our presence in Europe since the end of the Second World War helped create the conditions for security, prosperity and multinational cooperation to flourish, it is my firm belief that a transformed U.S. military posture in an expanded NATO alliance can broaden this sphere of stability beyond the borders of Western Europe. It is a strategic imperative that the United States remains engaged in Europe and maintains its influential role within the NATO framework. We will share in the benefits of a transformed alliance that has the political will and sustainable expeditionary military capability to act beyond the boundaries of its member states.

NATO's mission to Darfur is especially significant. It shows how the Alliance is shouldering the burden of 21st Century security challenges, even when they are radically different from Cold War challenges and located far beyond its traditional area of action. NATO's involvement in Darfur will help create relationships between key regional security organizations as NATO works with the African Union (AU) mission. Most importantly, this engagement will ameliorate one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. II. NATO MISSION TO DARFUR

Background

The Darfur region became the scene of a bloody rebellion in 2003 when two local rebel groups - the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese Liberation Army - attacked a number of government installations and forces, accusing the Sudanese government of oppressing non-Arabs in favor of Arabs. …

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