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DOD Prepares for U.S.-Africa Summit

Next week, the Defense Department will participate in the White House-led U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington.

Soldiers stand as a group.
Justified Accord
Soldiers host metal detecting training during Justified Accord in Isiolo, Kenya, March 11, 2022. U.S. forces joined representatives of Kenyan, Djiboutian, Rwandan and other partner forces for a multicomponent training exercise that focused on interoperability and peacekeeping operations in East Africa.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Neysa Huertas Quinones
VIRIN: 220311-A-D0439-119

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and his counterparts from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development will also co-host the associated Peace, Security and Governance Forum. 

"The African Leader Summit comes at a very important time for U.S.-African relations," said a senior defense official during a briefing today. "The United States has recognized the enormous potential and promise in Africa, and this is something that we definitely want to lean in on." 

To develop that potential, the official said, the U.S. seeks to work with African partners to address the most pressing challenges on the continent, including political instability, insurgent groups, democratic backsliding, pandemics, environmental degradation and climate change. 

As part of the three-day summit, Austin will co-host the Peace, Security and Governance Forum alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Samantha Power, administrator of USAID. 

U.S. and Botswana troops freefall with parachutes after jumping out of a plane.
Aerial Freefall
Army Green Berets and members of the Botswana Defense Force free fall over Thebephatshwa Airfield, Botswana, March 1, 2022. U.S. troops work with partner forces to help maintain jump qualifications and teach insertion techniques.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua DeGuzman
VIRIN: 220301-F-DP685-1008M

"Together, the Department of Defense, State and USAID will share perspectives on the importance of our '3D' approach to Africa and share the stage with our African partners to hear their perspectives on security and the challenges in their countries," said the official. 

The '3D' approach leans on defense, development and diplomacy as a way to address the root causes of instability in Africa. 

"This engagement will help us refine our approach to working with our African partners on the continent," the official said. "This forum will also be an opportunity to discuss the national defense strategy priorities for Africa, such as countering [violent extremist organizations;] bolstering allies and partners; and strategic competition." 

Two soldiers work together with survey equipment.
Kenya Survey
Army Sgt. Dominic McNally trains a member of the Kenya Defense Force on surveying equipment at the Archers Post Training Area in Larisoro, Kenya, March 9, 2022.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Justin Martin
VIRIN: 220309-Z-TM056-0150A

Also on the table at the forum will be discussions about the White House's strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa, where DOD hopes to work with African partners to develop African-led solutions and utilize civilian-led defense tools, such as institutional capacity building, security sector reform and building partner capacity and capabilities, the official said. 

"Africa is important to the United States, and our engagement and partnership is key to the U.S.'s approach towards strategic competition," the official said. "While we do not wish to make our African partners choose sides, the U.S. strives to be the partner of choice by offering a relationship based on mutual respect and values, by providing higher-quality products and services, and by working together with our partners on issues that are important to them." 

The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit runs Dec. 13-15, 2022. 


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