U.S. Army Africa hosts security cooperation working group
Army officers converge on U.S. Army Africa headquarters in Vicenza, Italy, to discuss the way ahead for military partnerships in Africa.

VICENZA, Italy - As U.S. Army Maj. Jeff Price heads back to his post in Nigeria, he takes with him a better understanding of U.S. Army Africa and a network of fellow Army officers serving at U.S. Embassies on the continent.

Price, 41, a National Guardsmen from Cameron Park, Calif., was one of two dozen U.S. Army officers who came from their African posts to attend a weeklong conference at U.S. Army Africa headquarters at Caserma Ederle to discuss future plans for military partnership activities with African nations. In all, roughly 70 Army officers and civilians from around the world attended the event, to include defense attachAfAs assigned to U.S. Embassies in Africa. They joined senior U.S. Army Africa staff.

"U.S. Army has done a great thing, taking the lead in an ever-changing situation to make sure resources are available for upcoming engagements on the continent," Price said.

Price is more than halfway through a three-year tour in Nigeria, a nation that has a state partnership with his home state of California. The conference offered much to those who attended, he said.

"Networking is key - knowing there are professionals with years of experience to rely on," Price said. "Plus, we have an understanding of the intent from higher and can now work with our host nations to meet set objectives."

The goal of the conference is to develop U.S. Army events with partner nations for the coming months and years. The results, which will be presented at a larger U.S. Africa Command meeting in November, will be based on discussions between officers serving in Africa and leaders from U.S. Army Africa and higher Army commands.

Maj. Gen. William B. Garrett III, commander of U.S. Army Africa, opened the conference with words to encourage.

"You are helping the U.S. Army create a process that will be in place for many years from now," Garrett said.

The relationship between officers in the field and the institutional Army is a key to successfully planning upcoming activities on the continent, Garrett said.

Garrett identified key tasks, among them were; creating activities that build capacity within partner nations' militaries, focusing on strengthening relationships and the ability to work together and coordinating efforts with U.S. Africa Command, the U.S. Army and Army attachAfAs. Army leaders must understand U.S. Army Africa's roles and responsibilities. Meanwhile, U.S. Army Africa must measure mission effectiveness and learn from its assessments.

"We have to move from coordination to collaboration, regarding U.S. Army security activities in Africa," Garrett said.

U.S. Army Africa is looking to improve how security cooperation is carried out on the continent, said Col. Peter Aubrey, who directs the command's civil-military operations. That includes working to achieve the goals of partner nations, embassies and the U.S. Army.

"We are figuring out how to do this better and smarter," Aubrey said. "We're moving toward programs that offer continuity."

Page last updated Wed September 30th, 2009 at 23:05