ABUJA, Nigeria -- Military leaders from 40 African countries, three European countries, Brazil and the U.S., joined together in an effort to strengthen regional partnerships and combat Africa's security challenges.
Lt. Gen. T.Y. Buratai, Chief of Army Staff for the Nigerian army, welcomed African Land Forces Summit 2018 attendees during the opening ceremony, April 16, 2018, in Abuja, Nigeria.
The weeklong seminar is designed to bring together land force chiefs from various nations across Africa to discuss and develop cooperative solutions and improve transregional security and stability. Senior leaders will work together in solidifying relationships, exchanging information on current topics of mutual interest, and encouraging cooperation in addressing challenges.
"The African Land Forces Summit is the single largest gathering of African senior military leaders and other Army chiefs from across the globe on the (African) continent," Buratai said during his opening remarks. "(ALFS) affords the African countries the avenue to share experiences on global terrorism."
The goal of enhanced cooperation formed through ALFS addresses regional concerns and assists in strengthening leadership and promoting strategic development in the defense institutions of African partners. It affords the opportunity for African land forces chiefs to open communication channels among partner militaries for future operations with the same desired end-state.
"I urge all of us to bring to bear our wealth of experiences and expertise to proffer solutions to our security problems," Buratai said. "I implore everyone here to engage in deliberate discussions that would explore viable avenues towards forging friendship and alliances that would facilitate us to surmount our challenges."
The three main scheduled plenary sessions during ALFS will focus on command and control in the African operational environment, protecting the populace from violent extremist groups and solving sustainment challenges. There will be several small group frameworks where participants will discuss key topics shared across African military ranks.
Gen. James C. McConville, Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, attended the summit as the senior U.S. representative. U.S. Army Africa's acting commanding general, Brig. Gen. Eugene J. LeBoeuf, served as the U.S.'s host, joining Buratai for media engagements and toasts welcoming the 40 delegates.
"Although we all come from different places, diverse cultures and we speak a variety of languages, we are united by our need to work together," McConville said. "That's why we are here this week."
The senior enlisted program, which began in 2017, is an excellent opportunity for noncommissioned officers to gain additional professional development skills on current transregional security and stability challenges. It also affords the opportunity for NCOs to foster relationships between various nations and discuss key issues facing enlisted personnel.
Break periods scheduled throughout the event will provide ample time for leaders to further build relationships.
In addition to working on key issues, partnerships built through ALFS can benefit African partners and U.S. leaders through ongoing military interoperability exercises across the continent.
"I want to emphasize that our collective action and inaction will have an impact on our efforts to ensure safety and stability of our individual countries, Africa and the world in general," Buratai said.