U.S. Army Africa sponsors security cooperation conference
September 1, 2011
VICENZA, ITALY - Nearly 150 military and civilian personnel representing organizations from throughout Africa, Europe and the U.S. participated in U.S. Army Africa's Theater Army Security Cooperation Conference held Aug. 29 to Sept. 2.
The Office of Security Cooperation, Defense Attaché Office and USARAF personnel working in more than 30 African nations took part in the conference. Additionally, U.S. Air Force, Army Reserve and National Guard staff took part in the conference along with Soldiers and civilians from several major U.S. military commands.
USARAF Commander, Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg, set the tone for the week-long conference in his opening remarks.
"We're going to roll up our sleeves and we're going to lay down programs that are looking forward into the future. That way, we can start nesting and getting the resources that support those programs," Hogg said.
"We'll have Reserve and National Guard forces we can tap into to do missions on the African continent. We'll have more resources to accomplish missions on the continent, building partner capacity within our theater security operation mission," Hogg said.
One of the main goals of the five day conference was to inform various organizations working for the U.S. in Africa of ongoing initiatives and missions from USARAF.
Additionally, conference participants worked together to plan strategies for upcoming events taking place in various African partner nations.
According to Col. John Crews, U.S. Army element commander of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, the conference helped coordinate military-to-military and other events occurring in his area.
"The conference has been a wonderful opportunity for the J-5, Strategic Plans and Policies division from CTJF HOA as well as the Army element to come here and synchronize events associated with theater security cooperation. We received some insights into key and senior leadership engagements as well," Crews, a native of Richmond, Va., said.
The conference featured break-outs for specific regions in Africa. Additionally, some sessions featured several brief presentations known as mad minutes.
"Mad minutes were an exceptional and informative segment of the conference that covered a full spectrum of topics from funding sources to military-to-military events. The one minute briefs were concise and offered opportunities to follow up later," Crews said.
British Army Lt. Col. Matt Bazeley summed up his impressions of the TASC conference.
"I'm gaining an understanding of where the U.S. forces in Africa are beginning to engage in their overseas security cooperation tasks," Bazeley said. "In terms of what we do, we are remarkably similar. As ever, the American and British interests are incredibly well aligned. Whether it's improving stability across the region or developing military capability of African forces. I'll walk away from this conference saying that we are aligned in our thinking and we are investing similar efforts for the best effect," Bazeley said.
Bazeley is posted in London with the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence. He supervises all security cooperation operations for the British military.
Bazeley explained that the conference will help military planners to conserve efforts and resources throughout the African continent.
"While the U.S and U.K. have similar interests in Africa, there is little point in us double-tapping (efforts) in a given country. It's a waste of resources and could potentially confuse the host nation. In terms of better managing our focus and efforts in Africa, it makes sense for us to de-conflict (efforts and resources) at this conference," Bazeley said.