LILONGWE, MALAWI - Senior military leaders from the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Brazil and 40nations across the African continent converged in "The Warm Heart of Africa" for an opportunity to strengthen partnerships.
Gen. Griffin "Spoon" Phiri, Malawi Defence Force chief of defense welcomed African Land Forces Summit 2017 attendees during an introductory session and opening ceremony, May 8, in Lilongwe, Malawi.
For the fifth time, ALFS is providing a forum for this diverse group of military leaders to discuss and develop cooperative solutions to regional and transregional challenges and threats.
"Development is directly linked to security," Phiri said. "There is no country which can evolve without security."
Saulos Klaus Chilima, vice president of Malawi, Gen. Daniel Allyn, U.S. Army vice chief of staff, and Mary Beth Leonard, U.S. ambassador to the African Union, each provided remarks during the opening ceremony.
"The theme for this year's summit is 'enhancing capacity through partnership in Africa,'" Leonard said. "This theme resonates with all of the initiatives we support and the relationships we are building across this continent."
The goal of enhanced cooperation formed through ALFS sessions and other interoperability training is to increase the capacity to build regional security throughout Africa as a whole.
"By collectively addressing regional concerns through this forum, I am confident we will reinforce U.S. and African partnerships to promote security, stability and peace in Africa, through strengthening leadership and strategy development in the defense institutions of our African partners," Leonard added.
Three plenary sessions during this annual, weeklong seminar will allow ALFS participants to discuss several key topics shared across African military ranks.
Leaders then split into regional groups for breakout discussion sessions.
This year ALFS kicks off its first Senior Enlisted Program, featuring noncommissioned officer professional development during briefings at the Malawi Armed Forces College.
Senior enlisted leaders will continue collaborating during a dedicated NCO breakout session later in the week.
Break periods throughout the packed schedule will provide vital time for leaders to further build relationships on a more personal level, noted Maj. Gen. Joseph Harrington, commander of U.S. Army Africa during his introductory remarks.
In addition to working out solutions to common issues, partnerships built through ALFS can benefit African partners and U.S. leaders throughout ongoing military interoperability exercises across the continent.
"The U.S. remains a steadfast partner for Africa and continues to stand by the African Union and its member states as we endeavor to increase cooperation and enhance the capacity of our African partners to enhance regional security," Leonard concluded. "As Africa stands against terror and conflict, I want you to know that the U.S. stands with you."