Security Assistance to Africa

Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs
Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy
Washington, DC
June 4, 2015

Chairman Flake, Ranking Member Markey, and distinguished members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify at this important hearing on security assistance to Africa. Thank you also for asking my colleagues from the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and the Department of Defense to join me at the witness table. Our partnership and coordination are essential to any success.

Support to U.S. Strategic Interests

Given state fragility, conflict, and transnational security issues, the promotion of peace and security in Africa remains one of the United States’ highest priorities, and is critical to attainment of our democracy and governance, economic, and development goals. We are actively pursuing policies of partnership and ways to promote solutions that yield long-term results. In Fiscal Year 2014, the Department of State committed approximately $496 million in bilateral peace and security assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa. Resources are used to support conflict prevention and mitigation, atrocity prevention, stabilization operations, security sector reform, peacekeeping operations, targeted counterterrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives, counter wildlife trafficking, nonproliferation, conventional weapons destruction, and maritime safety and security programs throughout the region. With the overarching goal of helping our African partners, our security policy addresses three broad priorities: peacekeeping and the prevention of additional conflicts, strengthening the security sector in partner states, and countering terrorism and other transnational threats.

Through our bilateral and regional relationships as well as through our engagement in the UN Security Council, we are focused on enhancing the capabilities of our African partners to prevent and respond to crises. And as much as our approach encompasses traditional security sector partnerships, it also reflects a commitment to integrated security, to include women in the military and in the military’s relationship with communities because it is accompanied by strategic initiatives that engage communities keeping and maintaining peace.

The Administration remains committed to building African peacekeeping capacity at the regional, sub-regional, and national levels, including through the provision of advisors, training, equipment, and other assistance. Peacekeeping operations in Mali, the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan contribute to stability within the respective sub-regions, as well as the entire continent. In South Sudan, the UN peacekeeping operation saved tens of thousands of lives since conflict erupted in December 2013, by taking the unprecedented step of allowing vulnerable civilians to shelter in its bases. More than 130,000 civilians continue to shelter at UN compounds across South Sudan. We will continue to build the capacity of African military and police peacekeepers through programs like the International Police Peacekeeping Operations Support (IPPOS) program, the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), and the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program, which is primarily funded through GPOI. These initiatives, along with the new and complementary African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership (APRRP), which focuses on strengthening critical gaps in rapid response capabilities, are critical for the long-term success of peace building in Africa.

Through the Early Warning and Response Partnership (EWARP), a Presidential initiative announced at the August 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, we will continue to develop a full-spectrum of crisis management capabilities and strengthen the capacity of West African states and the African Union to not only improve their response mechanisms once a crisis develops, but to also proactively identify and prevent crises in a more pro-active manner. Through consultations with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United States Mission to The African Union (USAU), and an extensive needs assessment, State and USAID have identified concrete lines of effort to be implemented over the next five years which meet U.S. objectives, respond to ECOWAS and African Union requests, and will enhance the long term early warning and response assets and capabilities of ECOWAS, its 15 member states and the African Union.

In the African context, we know that cooperating with and strengthening our partners’ security institutions is a critical element, along with civilian assistance, of achieving our shared peace and security goals. That’s why President Obama launched the Security Governance Initiative (SGI) at the U.S-Africa Leaders Summit last August. SGI is a multi-year effort that will initially focus on six partner countries – Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia. SGI provides us the opportunity to support partners to improve the management and accountability of the justice and security sectors, which are linked to their ability to more effectively and efficiently deliver security and justice to citizens. Through SGI we work together with partner countries to identify priority focus areas that will have a significant impact on citizen security and to jointly develop objectives and intended outcomes from the SGI partnership. SGI features a more holistic interagency approach for assisting our partners to more strategically and comprehensively address shared security challenges and emerging threats. SGI also emphasizes the importance of joint assessment and analysis to ensure that partner countries are actively engaged in identifying the security governance challenges and opportunities that shape SGI engagement.

The continued violence perpetrated by al-Shabaab, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups is concerning. In too many places the aspirations of Africa’s young people are thwarted by political instability, armed conflict, and violent extremism. The al-Shabaab attack on Garissa University College in Kenya is a recent example of the horrific brutality of these violent extremists, where young people who were pursuing an education in hopes of contributing to their communities and their country, were targeted and killed. We are strongly committed to assisting African countries to increase their capacity to address the immediate threats posed by terrorist organizations and to prevent terrorists from using the region to recruit, seek sanctuary, or secure resources and financing.

We are pursuing these goals primarily through the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) and the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT). These programs mobilize resources and expertise from multiple U.S. government agencies to assist our African partners in building security sector capacity, extending effective government control over remote areas terrorists may seek to exploit as safe havens, addressing the underlying causes of radicalization, and increasing the capacity of moderate leaders to positively influence populations that could be vulnerable to radicalization. Programming has strengthened the ability of partners to collect and analyze intelligence, support longer range patrolling, and understand strategies required to counter the violent extremist message.

Other transnational issues such as drug trafficking, maritime crime, and wildlife trafficking are key issues that also demand attention. U.S. programming in all these areas focuses on increasing national capacity and promoting regional cooperation. Through U.S. assistance, African partners will be better able to adhere to international commitments and contribute to global security. On Gulf of Guinea maritime security, I appreciate the resolution you sponsored last Congress, Mr. Chairman, condemning maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea. We continue to work with our international partners to support our African colleagues in their effort to implement the Yaoundé Process out of the 2013 West and Central African States’ Maritime Summit in Cameroon.

Finally, as I noted during my confirmation hearing in 2013, “governments that respect human rights, including women’s rights, and democratic norms make stronger and more stable partners for economic growth, development, peace, and prosperity.” This remains a critical issue for me. We continue to encourage security services to respect human rights and hold violators of human rights accountable, because doing so promotes the legitimacy of these services, improves the rule of law, and undermines extremist rhetoric calling on people to seek alternative justice. Additionally, as expressly targeted through SGI, our programs focus on developing accountability and oversight to mitigate corruption and bolster citizen input to the security system.

Effectiveness of U.S. Security Assistance

While the full impact of U.S. security assistance to help build the military, police, and other security service capacity of Sub-Saharan African countries may not be fully apparent for a generation, a persistent investment does provide near-term successes and will provide long-term effects. Our assistance aims to contribute toward building the indigenous military and police capacity of our African partners to ensure a more professional security apparatus that respects civilian control and human rights. Those professional African forces are critical to support our security policy interests on the continent.

Conflict in Africa threatens U.S. national security interests. Nowhere is that more evident than in the Horn of Africa. Our engagement in Somalia, where we have supported the Federal Government of Somalia and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in their efforts to stabilize the country and expand the reach of legitimate governance is a sign of our commitment to addressing conflict in the region. The success of AMISOM in reducing the territory held by al-Shabaab and stabilizing the Government of Somalia has come after years of investment from the international community in equipment, advisory support, and pre-deployment training. AMISOM has played a pivotal role, but long-term stability in Somalia depends on the creation of capable and regionally representative national security forces and a stronger Somali National Army. The Somali National Army is in its formative stages today, but the integration of regional security forces into the National Army in parallel with the political reconciliation will help bolster security to all regions of the country.

We cannot prevent every terrorist attack, but we can ensure that states are better prepared to work together and respond. For example, in 2012 and 2013, African forces – many of them U.S.-trained – responded to the crisis in Mali created by an internal conflict, coup d’etat, and the seizure of territory by terrorists, working alongside the French military to push back AQIM from safe havens in northern Mali. The intervention left AQIM scattered, fractured, and demoralized. And then, in 2013, the Malians took to the polls in a democratic election – an election that was a powerful rebuke to the restrictive rule and violent extremist ideology that AQIM and its allies imposed.

In addition, U.S. programming addresses new and present threats to stability and security in Africa. For example, IEDs used by Boko Haram pose an increasingly deadly threat to Nigeria and its neighbors. The U.S. stands out as the only donor partner providing counter-IED training to the law enforcement community and security forces in Nigeria, and we have found that this training has been paying dividends. Upon returning from Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) training, Post-Blast Investigation and Explosive Incident Countermeasure students recommended more practical exercises to their academy leadership for bomb technician training and worked with ATA to develop train-the-trainer curriculum to foster sustainable counter-IED capabilities for Nigerian security forces.

U.S. support for African Union-led efforts to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is another good example of how we can leverage our involvement to enhance regional cooperation and capacity to counter cross-border threats. Prior to the transition to DoD funds in late FY 2012, State provided approximately $57 million in State Department funds, primarily to support Uganda’s ability to counter the LRA. As part of holistic support from State, DoD, and USAID and working in an extremely difficult operating environment across three countries, the forces of the AU Regional Task Force, national security forces, and LRA-affected communities, local and regional actors have significantly degraded the LRA’s capabilities, increased defections, and improved protection and resilience of local communities.

U.S support for the criminal justice sector in Africa, including for police and the courts, has registered successes as well. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a U.S.-funded project has helped to improve the investigation and prosecution of cases of sexual and gender-based violence. It trains police officers and investigators with doctors and lawyers, helping them to understand the terms and procedures that each uses in an instance of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), facilitating coordination between them. As a result, police, doctors, and prosecutors have formed networks in their own communities to better address and process SGBV cases.

In the Central African Republic, the Department is supporting the re-establishment of criminal justice institutions with training, technical assistance, and basic equipment for police, gendarmerie, investigators, prosecutors, judicial staff, and corrections officers. We are already seeing success. U.S. technical assistance, equipment, and support are aiding the investigation and preparation of more than 50 cases for the upcoming Criminal Court Session, the first for Bangui in more than two years. The Court session will enable dozens of individuals and parties to obtain a long-needed decision of justice on their cases.

Security sector reform efforts in Liberia have also borne fruit. The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Liberian National Police (LNP) – were both largely rebuilt from the ground up following the devastating civil war. Both of these institutions are now preparing for the withdrawal of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and currently provide for nearly all internal security requirements in Liberia. The LNP has proven capable of providing internal security under normal conditions and also during some unexpected and extraordinary ones, including the Ebola outbreak. Timely training, equipping, and mentorship of civilian law enforcement enabled the LNP to maintain security during the outbreak. Throughout the crisis, the LNP showed its increasing competency by using force judiciously, increasing community participation, and generally de-escalating conflict as it occurred.

With the urging of the United States, the Government of Liberia has removed corrupt and obstructive senior officials within the LNP and the Liberian Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA), and replaced them with honest and professional officers. These important steps have led to key reforms and progress in organizational development and capacity within both organizations. As part of the U.S. West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative (WACSI), U.S. assistance also resulted in the first meaningful Liberian Drug Law and DEA Act being signed into law by President Johnson-Sirleaf. Both pieces of legislation are ground breaking in their scope and aim to prevent Liberia from becoming a trans-shipment location or target destination for international narcotics traffickers. The United States has similarly supported specialized law enforcement units that are disrupting drug networks and other illicit trafficking across West Africa, including operationalizing a Transnational Crime Unit in Liberia and in neighboring Sierra Leone and creating Sensitive Investigations Units (SIU) in Ghana and Nigeria.

We continue working to increase African states’ institutional capacity to analyze transnational organized crime trends, cooperate across borders, and conduct thorough investigations that facilitate prosecutions. As a result of U.S. assistance, several African states have joined the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, which encourages successful prosecutions and successful information sharing resulting in assets forfeited. Our Regional Training Center (RTC) in Accra has trained over 2,000 officials since its inception in 2011, and recent evaluation findings indicate that nearly 40 percent of respondents reported cooperating with fellow RTC alumni across borders, as well as nearly 60 percent reporting that use of skills learned at the RTC has resulted in successful criminal prosecutions in their countries. We receive letters and emails from individuals sharing these successes as well, such as a female police officer from Ghana who listed the various RTC-taught skills and technological approaches she used to conduct a successful anti-human trafficking operation. We are encouraged to see such tangible results from a program that is less than five years old, and will use this feedback to continue adjusting and improving our training approaches.

Contributions to Peacekeeping Operations

The Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program, largely funded by GPOI, is critical to our effort to build peace operations capacity among African partners. ACOTA provides training to contingents deploying to UN and AU operations, while building the capacity of our African partners to take over training themselves. Of the 26 current ACOTA partners, 22 are currently engaged in UN and AU peace support operations. ACOTA has trained and deployed approximately a quarter of a million military peacekeepers since 2003 and continues to be the premier pre-deployment program by training 77 battalions per year. In addition, U.S. Africa Command has conducted specialized and critically needed peacekeeping training for several GPOI partner countries in Africa, including but not limited to logistics, higher level staff, counter-IED, and gender in peace operations training.

The important role of policing and rule of law in peacekeeping and stabilization operations in Africa and the need to fill a critical gap there cannot be overstated. Since 2010, the United States, through the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs’ (INL) IPPOS program, has trained 5,619 police (35 Formed Police Units (FPU) and 699 Individual Police Officers (IPOs) for deployments to five UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, including Darfur, Liberia, South Sudan, Mali, and the Central African Republic. The African Police Contributing Countries (PCCs) who have benefited from IPPOS training assistance include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon Ghana, Togo, and Senegal.

African countries have made clear that rapidly responding to crises is at the top of their peace and security agenda. As mentioned earlier in the testimony, APRRP is a new investment of $110 million to build the capacity of African forces to deploy peacekeepers rapidly in response to emerging conflicts. Such rapid deployments are critical to saving lives amidst emerging crises.

APRRP builds on our longstanding commitment to developing partner capacity to support African countries and regional organizations to meet the challenges they face. The United States will initially partner with six countries—Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda—to develop a rapid response capability program. This program will focus on improving capacity in areas such as mission management, transportation, equipment maintenance and repair, logistics, engineering, and interoperability with other Africa-based peacekeeping forces. Under this program, African partner nations will commit to maintaining forces and equipment ready to rapidly deploy as part of UN or AU missions seeking to respond to emerging crises.

I look forward to hearing from my colleagues, listening to your insights, and consulting you further as we address these serious security issues. Thank you for your invitation, and for your consideration and support.