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DOD African Affairs Official, Somali Ambassador Discuss Partnerships

Feb. 12, 2020 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

The United States has lasting interests on the African continent, and military-to-military ties are part of the relationships, DOD officials said.

Pete Marocco, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs, met with the Somali Ambassador to the United States, Ali Sharif Ahmed, in the Pentagon recently to further U.S. partnerships.

Two men stand in front of a wall with small flags affixed to it.
Pentagon Pose
Pete Marocco, deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs, meets the Somali Ambassador to the United States, Ali Sharif Ahmed, at the Pentagon. They discussed the situation in Somalia and plans for the future.
Photo By: DOD Photo
VIRIN: 200207-D-ZZ999-001Y

Somalia changed after the "Day of the Rangers" in 1993, DOD officials said. Since then, the federal government of Somalia has been established, and there have been democratic elections in the country. Warlords and clans have made peace with each other and most are actively working with the government. Infrastructure — banks, ports and airports — is working, trade has awakened, and economic growth has returned.

Within the government, ministries have been created and are working. U.S. and African partner trainers are instructing the Somali National Army to counter the al-Shabab terror group and provide security for the whole nation.

Two airmen, illuminated in red light, remove ramps from the back of an open aircraft in the dark.
Ramp Removal
Air Force Airman 1st Class Torin Trinque, left, and Airman 1st Class Connor Loewen, both 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmasters, remove vehicle ramps off a C-130J Super Hercules in Somalia, Feb. 6, 2020. The squadron provides strategic airlift capabilities across the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa area of responsibility.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Ruano
VIRIN: 200206-F-VS255-0574

All is not roses, DOD officials said. Corruption remains a huge problem for the government. There are divisions within the country, and some areas — including Somaliland and Puntland — want to become independent nations or independent entities within the country. There is also a problem of "donor fatigue" with nations wondering how long Somalia will require external aid.

Officials said the deputy assistant secretary was in receive mode with the ambassador. Marocco wanted to ensure that the U.S. military is doing what the Somali government needs to provide security.

Underlying all this is the increasing influence of China on the continent. The U.S. investment in the region is subsidizing Chinese efforts to undermine international standards and norms. China wants to supplant the economic policies that have served the world well since the end of World War II with the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, which benefits China alone.

A soldier with a weapon stands by an aircraft in a field.
Somalia Ops
Army Spc. Christopher Andres, an Oregon National Guardsman assigned to the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, provides security for an Air Force C-130J Super Hercules during unloading and loading operations in Somalia, Feb. 6, 2020. The team provides base security and force protection for Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa personnel and partner U.S. forces deployed in Somalia.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Ruano
VIRIN: 200206-F-VS255-0317

When U.S. Africa Command stood up the idea was the American military would work with indigenous forces to create security and stability in Africa, officials said. At the same time, the State Department works with local governments to create institutions and promote good governance. The U.S. Agency for International Development was going to work with governments to create development and build economic capacity. The U.S. end state was supposed to be economies that could integrate under the established international order.

China, too, benefits from this U.S. policy, with Chinese leaders pursuing their agendas on the backs of American service members, diplomats and AID personnel.

Marocco will continue to meet with African ambassadors to the United States.