STUTTGART, Germany -- A Nigerian delegation met with representatives from U.S. Africa Command and its component organizations, Sept. 10, 2009, in Stuttgart, Germany to discuss their goals and objectives for the coming year.

As U.S. Africa Command begins setting plans for its theater security cooperation events in Africa for the approaching fiscal year, command personnel have emphasized the importance of reaching out to African military leaders for their input, recommendations, and requirements.

The Nigerian delegation, which included six Nigerian senior flag officers responsible for military training, as well as country team members from the Embassy in Abuja, traveled to Stuttgart to meet with their U.S. military counterparts and assist in planning the agenda for U.S.-Nigerian cooperation events for fiscal year 2010.

Prior to Africa Command's stand-up in October 2008, engagement plans with Nigeria were coordinated by U.S. European Command, which drafted up plans for Theater Security Cooperation events and presented them to Nigerian leaders through Embassy country teams.

According to U.S. Africa Command's regional division chief for West and Central Africa, Col. Ross Clemons, U.S. Africa Command wants to take a more interactive approach.

"We want to make this a two-way process, and we don't want to apportion resources or determine our engagement strategies with your countries without having you fully on board and guiding us to apportion these resources," Clemons explained to the Nigerian officers.

U.S. Africa Command participants included several representatives from the Strategy, Plans, and Programs (SPP) directorate, as well as at least one representative from each service or component organization, including U.S. Marine Forces Africa, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Air Forces Africa (also known as 17th Air Force), U.S. Army Africa, Special Operations Command-Africa, and the California National Guard. Also participating was a representative from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Cpt. Craig Barkley Lloyd, Coast Guard Liaison at U.S. Africa Command, explained that a list of proposed events was developed based on the requests of Nigerians in coordination with the U.S. Embassy country teams in Abuja. The purpose of today's meeting, he said, is to discuss each event and ensure that it is in line with the objectives of the Nigerians.

"This is all about listening to them," Lloyd said. "We're looking to help them transform their military from where it is now to where they want it to be."

Nigerian Army Maj. Gen. Pennape, Chief of Training and Operations at the Nigerian Defense Headquarters, said that two of his top priorities are to build capacity in Nigerian peacekeeping operations and to improve civil-military relationships.

"Our democracy is very young. We are trying to make sure we subordinate the military to civil control," said Pennape. "I think AFRICOM, having the tradition of operating in a democracy, will assist us in that process."

The Nigerian delegation was the first group invited to participate in the Theater Security Cooperation planning process at U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart. According to Clemons, this reflects the importance of Nigeria, not only in West Africa, but in Africa at large. Similar talks have been in held in Africa with Senegal and Ghana.

While the morning session focused solely on plans for fiscal year 2010, in the afternoon, participants had the opportunity to discuss U.S.-Nigeria partnership objectives over a five-year period, which will help frame engagement activities.

"We're very happy to be here and very much enthused by the interest you've shown since our arrival," Pennape said. "We came in here hoping to engage in very meaningful discussions with you and your team, and you've not disappointed us."