Security Assistance to Africa

Puneet Talwar
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
Senate Committee on 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 allowing me to speak with you today about security assistance in Africa. I commend the Committee for its focus on this critical topic. Thank you also for inviting my colleagues from the Department of State’s African Affairs Bureau and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Our teams work hand-in-hand to help our partners in Africa manage security and stability problems.

My statement will discuss the nature of security challenges in Africa, how U.S. security assistance addresses these problems, how different agencies in the U.S. government work together to plan and implement security assistance in Africa, how we measure the impact of our assistance, and our requests of Congress moving forward.

Security Challenges in Africa

We have made substantial progress addressing instability in Africa over the last decade. Our African partners are increasingly taking charge of their own security. We welcome these efforts to provide African solutions to African security challenges.

However, significant and complex security challenges remain. Conflict persists in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Somalia, and South Sudan. Terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Shabaab, and Boko Haram threaten the regional and international order. Many African countries have difficulty monitoring their maritime domain, leading to piracy and other significant economic and security threats. Narcotics trafficking fuels corruption and undermine governments. And while some sub-Saharan African countries have achieved rapid economic growth in recent years, nearly 70 percent of sub-Saharan Africans live in extreme poverty – contributing to insecurity by feeding the desperation that can drive individuals toward crime and terrorism.

All of these problems point to the need for strong government institutions. We are committed to helping our African partners build institutions and reform security sectors, so that they can manage these challenges over the long-term.

Goals for U.S. Security Assistance in Africa

We want to work closely with you to achieve four main goals:

  • First, we want to continue strong support for support peacekeeping operations throughout Africa, including in the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan. We provide urgently needed logistics support, training and equipment for African troops participating in these missions. We also build the long-term peacekeeping capabilities of our African partners through the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) and the new Africa Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership (APRRP) – or “A-PREP” for short.
  • Second, we want to build the military capabilities of our partners to conduct counterterrorism operations. Through the Trans Saharan Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) and the Partnership for East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT), we provide counter-terrorism training and equipment to African militaries in East and West Africa.
  • Third, we support the professionalization efforts of African militaries with training and advisory support, including through the Security and Governance Initiative (SGI) and the African Military Education Program (AMEP). Through our educational programs, we are helping to build African military forces that have a greater respect for human rights, the rule of law, and civilian control of the military.
  • And fourth, we help African partners police their maritime domain and combat other transnational threats like poaching. Our Africa Maritime Security Initiative (AMSI) and Africa Conflict and Stabilization Border Security (ACSBS) programs, respectively, provide training to select African security forces to police their maritime borders and counter poaching.

Formulating, Planning, and Implementing Security Assistance in Africa

The Departments of State and Defense work closely to formulate, plan and implement security assistance in Africa. The Presidential Policy Directive on Security Sector Assistance (PPD-23), released by the Administration in 2013, guides this process. The directive mandates an inclusive, deliberate, whole-of-government approach to U.S. security sector assistance, which aligns activities and resources with our national security priorities. The directive calls for transparency and coordination across the U.S. government to develop long-term strategies for security sector assistance, which build the capacity of our partners in a way that is strategic and sustainable.

In real terms, this means that our planning process begins with the Joint Regional Strategy, which are strategic plans developed in Washington by regional bureaus in consultation with functional bureaus and our missions abroad. Under the Joint Regional Strategy, each mission creates an Integrated Country Strategy, which includes input from other agencies at posts and in Washington. These strategies outline the U.S. government’s goals and objectives in a particular country and region.

Based on the goals and objectives of the Joint Regional Strategy, the Integrated Country Strategy, and Department of Defense theater campaign plans, the Department of Defense develops recommendations for most security assistance programs, and submits them to the Department of State for consideration. My bureau then convenes annual roundtables on security assistance each spring. At these roundtables, State Department and interagency counterparts come together to discuss the needs of a particular region and the status of existing programs. These roundtables inform our resourcing requests, which we coordinate with our regional bureau counterparts and submit to the Department of State’s Office of Foreign Assistance for consideration. This process ultimately yields the requests submitted to the Office of Management and Budget and later to Congress.

Within the State Department, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM) manages for of the main security assistance accounts: Peacekeeping Operations (PKO), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, and the Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF) – the last of which DoD and my bureau co-manage.

Proposals for specific programs are developed and coordinated in different ways, through mechanisms that are both formal and informal. GPOI, APRRP, TSCTP and PREACT program proposals – funded by PKO – are developed through cables and proposal forms. For TSCTP -- DoD, State and USAID participate in an annual conference to ensure effective coordination. Proposals for GSCF programs originate from Combatant Commands, Posts, and State and Defense senior leadership.

Coordination with DoD on Africa security assistance is perhaps most important in the counterterrorism (CT) realm, where DoD has its own authorities but still requires State concurrence. My bureau works closely with the relevant regional bureau and the Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT) to ensure a consolidated State position. In considering whether to support DoD proposals for counterterrorism assistance, State examines whether the assistance is consistent with foreign policy and is complementary with State’s programs.

Security assistance in Africa is implemented through DoD, through contracts managed by State, or some combination of the two. While State has the overall policy lead on FMF and IMET, both accounts are currently implemented entirely by DoD.

For PKO-funded programs, the State Department determines the most efficient mechanism for implementing programs, based on assessments of cost, timeliness, host government preferences, and the implementer’s capabilities. Possible options for implementation include DoD, State Department contracts, and grantee organizations.

GPOI programs are implemented either through the State -managed Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program, or through U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM). USAFRICOM will also serve as the primary implementer for APRRP activities.

The TSCTP program is the best example of a hybrid approach to implementation – the bulk of equipment and training for new equipment is implemented through State contracts, while skills-based training activities are generally implemented through DoD.

For GSCF, an authority that permits State and DoD to pool funding and expertise to address emergent and urgent challenges in the security and justice sectors, State and DoD jointly formulate, fund, implement, and evaluate programs.

The Impact of Assistance in Africa

The State Department measures the impact of our security assistance in Africa through a variety of mechanisms. We are working to develop a monitoring and evaluation program for FMF and IMET programs worldwide. Right now, our embassy country teams formally track IMET graduates that are in “Positions of Prominence” (such as General Officers and Chiefs of Defense). This allows State and DoD to maintain relationships with military leaders that understand the United States and appreciate the emphasis we place on professionalization, civilian control of the military, respect for human rights, and success on the battlefield.

For PKO, the State Department generally relies on contractors to implement monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities by program. We currently have M&E efforts ongoing for the GPOI, TSCTP, and PREACT programs. Since the inception of GPOI, for example, my bureau has contracted a metrics and evaluation team. This team collects extensive data to enable our program management office to track outputs, outcomes, and other performance-related measures. PM is working with AF to develop M&E programs for the other PKO funded programs.

Similar to PKO, State and the Defense Department contract out to a third-party to conduct M&E for GSCF projects. As GSCF is a new program, M&E efforts are still in the nascent stages.

I would like to take a minute to highlight a few examples of our successes across the continent.

The GPOI program’s capacity building efforts are enabling partner countries to train, sustain, and deploy peacekeepers. We have worked hand-in-hand with our African partners to develop instruction programs and training centers. Our progress is most evident among the six APRRP countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda), all of which are GPOI partners, and represent some of the most capable peacekeeping contributors on the continent. Ethiopia, for example, is the largest single contributor of peacekeepers in the world, deploying a critical stabilizing force into the contested Abyei region between South Sudan, as well as providing peacekeepers to missions in South Sudan, the Darfur region of Sudan, and Somalia. Similarly, Tanzania responded to an urgent request for forces to establish the Force Intervention Brigade to strengthen the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This force has played an integral role in enhancing civilian security and helping stabilize the eastern DRC.

In response to the 2013 insurgency in Mali, we provided food, fuel and water to help African troops operate in the harsh desert environment. We did this within a month of African peacekeepers arriving in country.

For a relatively small amount of funding, the United States provided airlift and refueling services for French counterterrorism operations across the Sahel. The U.S. government has spent roughly $3.5 million per month to support the French. The Defense Department estimates that conducting these operations on our own would cost $120 million per month. While the situation on the ground remains challenging, French operations helped create the conditions for last month’s signing of Mali’s peace agreement by the government and some armed groups. This is an important step on the path towards sustainable peace, and we are watching closely as talks continue. Bolstering this fragile effort to ensure peace remains the best hope for long-term stability in the region.

For the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership program, we are providing critical training and equipment capabilities to directly help partner nations actively fighting the terrorist threats in the Lake Chad Basin and Sahel. We recently provided 850 sets of body armor to Cameroonian forces that are actively fighting Boko Haram on their borders. This protective equipment helps to limit the number of casualties that Cameroonian military forces are incurring, inherently fostering a greater willingness among these forces to more robustly execute mission tasks.

In Somalia, we have spent over $430 million in PKO funds to provide logistics support, training, equipment and advisory support for African troops participating in the African Union Mission in Somalia. Since AMISOM first deployed in 2007, the force has grown from 4,000 troops to over 22,000 and has made tremendous strides in the past several years by bringing Mogadishu and other key urban areas (such as Baidoa, Beletweyne, and Kismaayo) under its control, in cooperation with the emerging Somali National Army (SNA). Most recently, Operation Indian Ocean, a joint-AMISOM-SNA offensive, succeeded in liberating Baarawe, the last major al-Shabaab stronghold in the country.

Sustaining our Assistance

One of our foremost challenges is sustaining counterterrorism programs, and for that we seek your support. Major procurements – such as aircraft – often require years of sustainment, including spare parts and follow-on operational and maintenance training. The costs of sustainment are generally much more than the initial investment. While State Department funds, such as FMF, can be used to sustain major systems in Africa, we do not have sufficient funding to do so. Accordingly, we ask for a $9 million increase in FMF for Africa counter-terrorism sustainment, which we requested in FY16. This extra funding – while critical -- will not sustain all of our programs, and we are working with the Defense to address this problem.


More than ever before, we share security responsibilities with other nations to help address security challenges in their countries and regions, whether fighting alongside our forces; countering terrorist and international criminal networks; participating in international peacekeeping operations; or building institutions capable of maintaining security, law, and order. While we have enjoyed broad support from Congress on security assistance in Africa, I ask that you fully fund our request for FY16 – which includes a $2.4 million increase for IMET.

We look forward to working with you to continue supporting our security assistance goals in Africa and improving the effectiveness of the programs. Thank you again for your continued support for security assistance in Africa.