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General Michael Langley (USMC), Commander, U.S. Africa Command, Holds an Off-Camera Press Briefing

STAFF: Thank you for being here today. For those of you I haven't met -- and I think we just met everyone -- I'm Captain Pam Rawe, AFRICOM Public Affairs Officer, and today, you'll be speaking with General Mike Langley, Commander of USAFRICOM.

For attribution, today's event is on the record, off camera. General Langley will begin with brief opening remarks, followed by question and answers. To start, we're going to limit one question, one follow-up until everyone has an opportunity, and then if we have time, we will do another round and go back over. And while you've all been here before -- we will have a microphone to help with the transcripts, so we will wait until you have the microphone to ask your question, and we'll go with that.

If there's no questions, General Langley, I'll turn it over to you for your opening remarks.


STAFF: And sir, you don't have to push any buttons ... 

GEN. LANGLEY: OK, all right.

STAFF: They -- the -- the wonderful team over here on the right is -- is running it.

GEN. LANGLEY: ... So again, good afternoon, everyone, and thanks for taking time -- and especially on this Friday afternoon, on St. Patty's Day. But as you know, you know, I'm in town for a couple of reasons, to tell the AFRICOM story, the Africa story as well.

Look, for annual -- this being the posture testimony season, both to the SASC (Senate Armed Services Committee) and the HASC (House Armed Services Committee) -- I had the SASC yesterday, and next week, I will have the HASC, OK? But before we get into the questions, I'd like to tell everyone about USAFRICOM. I -- I know some of you already steeped in knowledge on AFRICOM but just a few things that I've observed since I took command back last August, OK?

I've had the opportunity to hit about 11 different countries thus far, and each time I go, it has been a campaign of learning, I -- I will tell you that. Each country is different. So across all 54 countries, of which one is actually in General Kurilla's AOR (Area of Reponsibility), Egypt, but all of them are sovereign nations, all of them have their -- their national objectives, and I need to be able to realize that and that's what -- one of my first lessons. You know, I can't just group East Africa, I just can't group West Africa or South or even North, you know? Each one of them has their own story and their own objectives.

So I was in listening mode and I could hear directly from our partners of the challenges they face and their proposed solutions to address this. I heard this when I was at the CHoD (Chiefs of Defense) Conference in Rome about a week and a half ago.

As they were telling their stories, I had -- I had over 43 CHoDs there, even Libya from both sides, Libya's representation, as they make their way and establish a roadmap back to a democracy and free and open elections.

So -- but the one grounding truth that came out of that, not so much just summary of discussions but summary of conclusions, is that we can work together to achieve shared security across the continent of Africa. So some of the complex security challenges are the effects of climate change, first and foremost, and you heard me testify to that -- those truths yesterday.

And the Somalis' comprehensive campaign to counter Al-Shabaab as President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud embarks upon that campaign. Iin the papers, it may seem like that campaign is kinetic. It's more than that. I think the -- President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud gets it. He's effecting a whole of government approach and to bring in all of the federal member states into the stabilization mission of Somalia writ large.

Maritime security -- as I'm doing a surge into the Gulf of Guinea nations to address some of their challenges and listen to them and how they can coalesce into some of the challenges within the Gulf of Guinea and also -- which includes combat illegal unregulated fishing on -- on -- on -- in their waters.

So at the center of AFRICOM's approach, make no mistake about it, it's all about partnership. With our African partners and with our international partners,, close to home, our partners across the U.S. government, like State Department, USAID, are a big play in that, along with our allies on the European continent.

We call our -- our teamwork with development, diplomacy and defense between DOD, State Department, and USAID -- we call that the 3D approach. This is something you'll hear me say a lot -- the defense in support of both those two efforts, of diplomacy and development.

So through this approach is a comprehensive view of how U.S. and African nations can work together. We recognize the African nations have a choice, and during my visit to Africa and the -- the Chiefs of Defense Conference earlier this month, I heard that, that "we want the United States as a partner of choice, but there's some things that we need that are necessary now." So I talked to that with Congress yesterday and we're going to address those issues.

So yes, we do have competitors. We have what we call great power competition. Those challengers are trying to affect their presence on the continent and try to be the partner of choice. I understand our -- where our African partners are coming from but our value proposition that we espouse across this 3D approach is common in values and common in our African partners' objectives.

So let me end this by giving you a few examples of activities that we have going on right now and -- to help strengthen these partnerships. 

In the West, what's concluding at -- as we speak, is Exercise Flintlock. It just wrapped up in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire and much of the training was designed to counter violent extremist organizations but it's also -- has a maritime component that I've already spoke about in the Gulf of Guinea.

In the East, Kenya hosted Exercise Cutlass Express, which is also concluding today. This iteration was centered to Erik Kurilla's forces in NAVCENT (Navy Central Command) for international maritime -- international maritime exercise. So those are some of the multi-national events that we conduct with our partners. 

So at -- at -- at this time, I'm -- I'm open for your questions.

STAFF: All right. We'll start with Lita Baldor from AP.

QUESTION: Thanks, General, and thanks for doing this. We appreciate it when COCOMs will come here to talk to us. Two things for you if you can. Can you give us your latest assessment on Al-Shabaab in Somalia, their size as compared to over the last six months to a year? Because everyone has seen an increase in -- in, as you said, kinetic activity. So if you can give us sort of your current assessment of their size and -- and power?

And then secondly, just sort of quickly, China -- can you say what progress you believe China is making in establishing a base on the Atlantic coast? Thank you.

GEN. LANGLEY: OK. Hey, thank you for that question. As far as Al-Shabaab, we are seeing an ebb and flow in their numbers. And what really pushes this is the success of the federal government of Somalia being able to clear through the federal -- the federal member states, clear that ground, such as the -- I'll just give you an example of the Hiraan region -- as -- as they come through and they -- the “clear, build, hold” construct, turning the clans, and behind that, bringing in aid to some -- some of the -- the members of the populace is essential because once they establish that as a norm, that will decrease the recruiting -- the recruiting of military age males into joining Al-Shabaab into a false ideology.

So it ebbs and flows, I'll just -- I'll be honest with you. Their strongholds are down in the south. So in the south, in which they have not pushed operations in earnest just yet, I -- I -- this -- really, he -- he wants to be able to clear the Shabelle region and make sure that Mogadishu is secure before they do a -- a -- an offensive down in the south.

So to the numbers, I don't see that right now as important. I think it's stabilized, it goes back and forth, but I think, I am very optimistic that the federal government of Somalia, in their whole of government approach themselves, building institutions across their government and then, at the same time in parallel, building their military to be able to address the “clear, build, hold” construct, in concert with some of the militias affiliated to the -- the federal member states, whether in Jubaland or Puntland or across the Shabelle region, turning those clans and being able to work in operations with the militias affiliated with the governance of those member states.

OK, and then China, OK. China does have aspirations. There is -- there's aspirations across all sides of the continent, whether we're talking about the Atlantic or the Indian Ocean or the Gulf of Aden. It just seems like they are really coming with a vanguard -- and I characterize this "thinly veiled" as far as their intentions to establish naval bases for their overall future global construct at the strategic level.

They won't come out and say that but – it just seems as -- as if, just by their exercises -- and I'll just shed light on that MOSI II exercise -- that it was -- it was probably a precursor to their overall intentions. And we think that there are indicators that they do -- the the PLA Navy does want to try to affect in -- in being able to establish some type of capability on the west coast of -- of Africa.

STAFF: All right. Could I go -- Eric Schmitt?

QUESTION: Hi, General. Thanks for doing this.


... two questions. Got to use the mic though. 


The first is President Macron of France has already said that the French presence in the Sahel is going to be -- is going to be drawing down, or at least -- at least diminishing over the next coming months. What impact is that going to have on U.S. involvement there? Is it going to mean more U.S. involvement or is the U.S. going to scale back its operations as well, even as the threat clearly is getting worse there?

And in Somalia, you mentioned the -- the “clear, build, hold” strategy, and yet, I think, when Courtney and I were there, one of the -- one of the main vulnerabilities that -- that we heard about was the fact that it just -- is -- there really isn't a hold force yet. And I'm wondering to what extent are you concerned that if they -- if that isn't established quickly, these hard fought gains are just going to flip back to Shabaab in this area that's -- we were told is kind of the -- the -- the easier of the regions? As you indicated, they haven't even reached their stronghold down in Jubaland. Thank you.

GEN. LANGLEY: OK. Thanks, Eric, for that question. So first of all, President Macron in -- in -- in France, they're great partners and they're great allies, especially in West Africa but also in East -- East Africa as well. And they have a -- they're resetting, they're moving some chess pieces across the board, if you will, but they still have the same intent, to be able to advise and assist and partner with African nations.

And I know there was negative sentiment in the -- in the information space. I think they have reset themselves. So we're still in great partnership with them, with our African partners. So the approach going forward -- I think, Eric, what you're probably asking, are they going to take risks across the Sahel region? 

 I really think they'll still have that same capacity because of their new approach is in concert with ours. They're still going to be doing some level of counter-terrorism but they're really going to step it up in the partnership and being able to build capacity in the countries which they partner with. So I think it's a win/win situation as this evolves. And -- but there are -- their focus is going to be still in the Sahel, from the Lake Chad region all the way extending to the Gulf of Guinea. So I do see them focusing there as well. 

So I -- I -- I think that is going to be -- it's going to -- it's -- it's going to be -- you know, there will be tactical patience in this transition, with the reduction of forces there, but they still have the same intent and the same national objectives.

QUESTION: And what about the U.S. presence as a result of that? Will it also decrease or will ... 

GEN. LANGLEY: I'm going to -- I'm going to -- have the -- the same footprint, you know, where we are. We -- we are -- we are -- we're looking at that. But their plans are in line with our plans and -- and our operational approach of limit and prevent.

QUESTION: And on Somalia, just the concern about potential lack of -- potential lack of a holding force?

GEN. LANGLEY: Yes -- yes, and -- and I too -- in my Commander's estimate, I look at that and -- but also the operational planners that -- within the MOD of the -- of the federal government of Somalia, they look at that too. 

As I met with them -- I met with them back in -- back in September, when I made my visit there, and they went through their operational design and they realized that part of the holding piece will be turning the clans and also adding capacity into those militias.

As you can see, some of the ebb and flow in the Juba -- in Jubaland, they had some tactical losses, you know, and -- and -- across some of their forward operating bases, and then the -- the -- the Somali National Army came in and, with the Jubaland forces, they were able to retake that ground.

So there begs the question of the next step of building capability and capacity of these militias into the fold of a construct of the Somali National Forces. They are –going to- have to be the ones who are going to be -- have to hold the ground in every federal member state. So that's -- that's their approach and their operational design to do that.

How long will that take? They're assessing that because they know that ATMIS (African Union Training Mission in Somalia) -- the ATMIS construct does have a sunset at the end of '24. They probably are trying to seek a extension to that so that they can buy time to build capacity in the -- in the militias affiliated with the federal member states.

STAFF: All right. And since she already has the microphone, we're going to let Courtney Kube go next.

QUESTION: I -- staying -- staying on Somalia. So the -- it -- it's -- it's -- can you explain a little bit more about -- about this building of this potential hold force? Because it -- it -- historically, it doesn't always work well to have local clans, you know, especially to be particularly powerful when you don't have a really strong or large Somali military. 

So when you talk about building the -- number one, building up the military, do you see a -- do you envision that the U.S. is going to extend their mission to -- to training more Danab, number one, which is the Somali -- which the Somalis are asking for, Hassan Sheikh and the Prime Minister? Do you -- do you foresee a scenario where the U.S. could start helping to train some of these local clans or militias and even potentially arm them?

And then that opens the question of the arms embargo that the U.S. still has against Somalia, if that's something -- I wonder if that's something that your partners are talking to you about, about -- about asking to -- to lift that so that they could be better matched against Al-Shabaab?

And then just one question totally separately, just on the -- the Chinese influence on the continent. Can you talk a little bit about how nations are -- like, at -- like, at this conference in Rome, which was, I don't remember, last week or the week before -- how some of the -- the nations are talking to you about that Chinese influence? Are they talk -- is it -- is it --, are they asking the U.S. to tone down the sort of "us versus them" language here or is it -- or is it -- are they receptive to it? Thank you.

GEN. LANGLEY: OK. Yeah, so a continuance on -- on the hold force and -- and the concerns of that. I'll just go ahead and say, from the operational perspective and my Commander's estimate and in advising, assist, just at the operational level, my assessment is it is going to take time and then the ATMIS construct, just -- just on the rate of being able to force generate, per se, force generate in a construct of the Somali National Forces, that's what needs to be realized by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud or Sheikh Ali at the -- the defense level, and I think they realize that. But it's unknown territory how long that takes and to be -- being able to hold that and get to being able to bring that fold into their institutional construct of some of the militias. 

But as far as U.S. going in and assisting them with that, that's going to be a policy issue, OK? So with our operational -- our operational efforts now is already -- already stipulated -- advise and assist, remote advise and assist at times, but at -- will that extend beyond to the militias? Right now, our -- our policy doesn't have us at that point. So that will be to be determined.

On your second question about Chinese influence, let -- let me just give you a -- Courtney, on my approach -- when I engage with our partners or even when I was in Rome at the CHoD Conference, I openly told them I'm not going to -- I'm coming with my value proposition. I know there's other competitors out there. I'm not giving you an ultimatum, I'm not forcing you to -- to choose, I'm giving you the U.S. value proposition going forward.

We recognize that they have choices. We recognize that the immediacy -- and -- and -- and the reasons why they pick our challengers and competitors, whether it be for any type of training or armament. We don't pressurize them. That's not what we do. We offer a value proposition that's grounded in principles of -- of value and also common -- commonality of national objectives, their national objectives and ours.

QUESTION: And on the Danab, do you -- do you expect -- I think the U.S. right now is training up to 3,000, the Somalis have been pretty open about that.. Do you see that mission being extended or ... 

GEN. LANGLEY: Hey, Courtney, that's another policy -- that's another policy determination on what the Secretary of Defense will want us to do, so.

STAFF: All right.


STAFF: OK, we'll go to -- are you ready, Carla? OK, Carla Babb of Voice of America.

QUESTION: Thank you, General Langley. I'm just going to do a quick follow on Somalia since we are on that topic right now. Does -- does Al-Shabaab have the capability to strike the U.S. homeland now? Your predecessor, General Townsend, was telling me last year that he -- his instinct, he felt that they did but the intelligence didn't necessarily back that up. So I -- I'd like to get your opinion on that.

And then I have a follow-up.

GEN. LANGLEY: OK, Carla, thanks for that question. That's something the IC (Intelligence Community) is monitoring and -- but at this -- at this particular time, I think it's -- it's -- it's pretty flatlined and -- and any -- we are charged, AFRICOM, with indications and warnings, and right now, it's pretty flatlined.

We attribute this to the President Sheikh Mohamud, in keeping Al-Shabaab back on their heels. So they're looking for survival -- a survivability right now in Somalia and trying to entrench themselves as a shadow government. That's what they do.

And so this is complementary effects on our national objectives in protecting the homeland because of the -- the federal government of Somalia taking the fight to Al-Shabaab.

QUESTION: OK. So just so I'm not interpreting you wrong, "flatline" means no?

GEN. LANGLEY: Yeah, "flatline" means they're -- they're -- they're not any closer ... 

QUESTION: Any closer or any ... 




QUESTION: And then my follow-up, I just wanted to ask you about the Iranian presence. We heard General Kurilla say that they've extended their -- their influence into Europe. We've seen that with the drones in Ukraine. What are you seeing Iranians do in Africa? We all heard about the attempt to -- to kill a U.S. diplomat years ago that failed. What else are they doing?

GEN. LANGLEY: We're just keeping our eyes open, indications and warnings, for any indications of the Iranian threat network. So right now, we're just -- we're on guard.

QUESTION: Have you seen an increase or ... 

GEN. LANGLEY: No, I haven't seen any increase. I -- I think we're far -- engaging with our partners across even North Africa -- that I'm not seeing any indications at this -- at this time that -- that would tip the scales of indications and warning of Iranian influence. 

But we know that there's a possibility but we're just not seeing something that's -- strategic proportions that we're concerned about. But there's always that possibility.


GEN. LANGLEY: A follow-up?

STAFF: We'll go with Phil Stewart from Reuters.

QUESTION: Hey there. Good to see you again.

GEN. LANGLEY: Hey, Phil.

QUESTION: So real quick on -- Reuters had published a series of stories about Nigeria, and I was just wondering whether -- alleged -- documenting some pretty significant human rights violations and allegations of -- of abuse by the Nigerian military. I'm just wondering how that series of stories has affected your partnership and conversations with Nigeria? 

And -- and also, I was hoping to follow up on Courtney's question -- in the event that there isn't a change in -- in U.S. policy and the U.S. can't authorize training with the militia or an increase in training of the Danab, what do you think the impact would be on -- on Somalia's efforts to -- to hold areas that it's -- it's liberated? Thanks.

GEN. LANGLEY: OK, Phil, thanks for that question. Nigeria first. Here's the positive of -- of my perceptions of Nigeria doing the right thing. They have their own Human Rights Commission that has taken all of these allegations and they're taking it very seriously and doing their investigations and doing their research by the allegations of the Nigerian military and alleged atrocities.

So we have full faith, as (to) my mil-to-mil engagements and also with USAID across their governance, engaging with the -- Africa's largest democracy, that they will do the right thing, they will do extensive investigations and hold those individuals to account if -- if it -- it is substantiated.

Your next question was on the state of affairs of the progress, even after the sundown of ATMIS at the end of '24, the -- whether -- whether the Somali national government and their Army will be at the level to hold and who's going to help. There's going to be a coalition of the willing.

There's all indications with my engagement with -- with Djibouti, my engagements with Kenya -- I don't have mil-to-mil engagements with Ethiopia -- but I think all those bordering states are going to have throughput, and continuance of engagement will help in -- President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud cause he's already gotten their governance together and already had meetings of what's next, what's ATMIS next?

So I -- I really think there's enough capacity there, the coalition of willing in East Africa, to be able to help him stabilize and finish the stabilization plan.

STAFF: OK. We'll go to Luis Martinez from ABC.

QUESTION: Thank you again for doing this. I'd like to follow up on something you answered to Eric's question about the French. In your answer, you said that you're keeping your footprint but you're going to look at that. Does that indicate that there's an -- reassessment of the force posture in Western Africa that you're looking at -- or broader into all of your AOR (area of responsibility) as part of a larger review?

GEN. LANGLEY: What you'll probably see -- you know, in my -- I'm following and trying to anticipate what direction the violent extremist organizations are going. There's clear indications from the Lake Chad region that one affiliate in particular, JNIM (Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin), is starting to go towards the Gulf of Guinea. So I need to take that into account, my overall assessment. And I think the French are probably looking at that, as well, because they -- they already have positions in -- in Cote d'Ivoire, they already have basing in Senegal, Gabon. 

So as we follow the direction of the violent extremist organizations -- in this case, JNIM, and ISIS West Africa is starting to trend to the -- towards that direction as well -- so we're broadening the West Africa piece and not just in the Lake Chad region. It's going to go all the way to the Gulf of Guinea because it seems like they're going to be just sitting down with the Guineans, they see what happened -- what's happening to Burkina Faso, so they see the direction.

You know, Cote d'Ivoire, Togo, Benin, and Ghana, that's how they came up with the Accra Initiative. They need to stem the tide now. We, and in this -- in this case, the French, are realizing that, that our African partners are -- you know, it's African-led, so it’s ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) (that) projects the direction of violent extremist organizations, the Accra Initiative is just one initiative that is a -- stems -- an operational plan to be able to stem that tide and also to help Cote d'Ivoire, you know, save -- save their country from this viable threat.

QUESTION: So as you look at that, does that imply a zero sum, where you may have to reassess alignments in the east part of Africa versus west?

GEN. LANGLEY: So increasing the footprint, that's not in the cards right now. Increasing capacity of -- of the states that we partner with is essential. That's why you see me testify yesterday -- this was -- what I testified about and it's -- that informed my message, is about how we can partner and increase capacity with our African partners quicker. The processes of what we call 333, the -- the train and -- and -- and equip piece, and the -- the 332 was building institutional capacity. 

They want that, they really want that. They said "we -- we don't want your boots on the ground, we don't -- we don't need that, we're not asking for that. We're asking for your ‘advise and assist’ capabilities," and some of Cote d'Ivoire, for instance, were asking for body armor.

We need to be able to help them in those veins. They -- just it's -- the -- the -- the theme of that is partner-led, U.S.-enabled.

STAFF: All right. We'll go with Oren and then we'll do Jim.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask about how you see Russia's influence expanding or -- or not in Africa and -- and Wagner. Has -- has Wagner been able to increase their influence or have the demands of the war in Ukraine prevented that?

And then sort of on the -- on the Russia question, the West has not really been receptive to Russian propaganda but I think we've seen some countries in Africa have. Do you -- do you run into that? Do you try to work with that or around that in -- in some way?

GEN. LANGLEY: Good questions. So let me talk about the Russian Federation and Wagner, the private military company led by Yevgeny Prigozhin. I still -- I -- I am -- I'm of the mindset that they are very much inextricably linked, and here's why I say that - these destabilizing actions of Wagner, especially in Mali, up to this point kind of reveals some strategic intent, as they come in there and try to find countries that are on -- or very much challenged in democratic norms. And that's what happened.

They had a coup. Wagner leverages on, knowing that I have sanctions from 7008 that limits our mil-to-mil engagement. Wagner offers to fill that void. Given that, our answer to it is to increase engagements across the 3D construct ‘cause we still have diplomacy and we still have development going on.

But as I said before, these countries have choices. So this value proposition of Wagner coming in is kind of destabilizing, even in those regions and even across their populace. That kind of resonates across the continent of Africa.

There's some good news stories of when Wagner had pulled out. They were in -- years ago -- in Mozambique, and Mozambique didn't like that proposition and was kind of revealing. Now they're kind of challenged in the Central Africa Republic. And I also think it's trending, but in Libya, I think they're getting fed up.

So them trying to control the info space, if you will, the rhetoric against the -- the -- the French, had resonate(d), but I think, in time, it's going to wear off because -- because these African countries are pretty -- pretty smart and pretty savvy and they -- they see the revelation of the true intent of Wagner.

Wagner's about profit and power. When they have a security offering, it's only security offering to establish a bubble around the elite that believe in their norms and a pathway to an authoritarian or autocratic-type government. That's the extension I see to the Russian Federation.

So therein lies what I think their construct is. That's their playbook, OK? But through the whole-ofgovernment approach, I think the -- the U.S. approach to that is going to resonate and I think our African partners understand that, and that's why you have something like the Accra Initiative, to be able to ensure that that doesn't happen to them, because they have the same values and -- as us and they have the -- the democratic norms that they know that -- is -- is best for their people.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: Sir, can I ask you a quick follow-up?


QUESTION: When you say that they're challenged and ... 



When you say that they're challenged in CAR and in Libya, are -- have you seen any movement of the Wagner Group moving either forces in to -- to support those people or moving out? I know we -- we learned last year that Wagner was recruiting in Libya to go to Ukraine. What's the movement at right now?

GEN. LANGLEY: I can't really speak to that piece but I will say this -- I'm of the mindset that, just from their ability to have what they promise, of fighting -- fighting violent extremist organizations in Mali, I really think that they only had the capacity to be able to establish it around the elite, but I think that was the -- the initial aim anyway because, make no mistake about it, their true intentions was monetary in nature, as they push an invoice in front of the -- that newly established government of the costs for security.But it wasn't security for their country and fighting violent extremist organizations, it was over their -- over that limited governance.

So did the -- your question is probably did they move some of their talent base to go into Ukraine to fight ... 


QUESTION: Oh, no, no. Sodid they move them into CAR and Libya to resupply, since you said that they're being challenged, or have you seen the opposite – the move out?


GEN. LANGLEY: ... oh, no, what -- what I'm saying -- when they -- they're being challenged, their proposition is being challenged as -- as the -- the -- the truth setsabout their true intentions, through their -- either from their actions or from the information domain and the people and -- and they -- then the -- then the word starts to spread of different atrocities across the -- across -- across their -- the regions, of the actions of -- of Wagner, which is really destabilizing -- destabilizing -- and people are starting to realize that.

STAFF: OK, all right. Jim?

QUESTION: Sir, you started this by talking about how climate change is complicating your life. I'm wondering if you could just go a little bit farther into that? How is it complicating what AFRICOM does? How is it -- how is it different in different parts of the continent? And what can AFRICOM done -- do to help these countries as they combat climate change?

GEN. LANGLEY: Great -- great question about climate change ‘cause we know that as we are well into the realization that climate change is real and the destabilizing effects especially our -- it's pretty much exponentially impactful on -- across the African continent, and -- and here's why -- as we do multi-layered assessments of what's -- what affects instability across Africa and do a comparative analysis of what really is the root cause of cumulative effects of instability and fragility across the countries in Africa, it is proven time and time again that effects of droughts that cause mass migration or urbanization, crop failures, flooding, and also famine, sometimes goes down to the root cause of irregular weather patterns.

So our approach at AFRICOM -- moreover, the whole-of-government approach -- is we depend a lot on USAID because they have mechanisms, they are a evidence-based organization, to protract forward what the overall effects going to be because some of those effects do come into the realm of conflict, whether it be because of the movement of the herders and farmers to actually use the same land at times, it causes instability and cascading effects. 

And sometimes violent -- violent extremist organizations exploit that, taking them one sector of a population and recruiting out of that base and then a competing affiliate going over to the herders and recruiting out of that base. That just stokes conflict.

So what are we doing in our engagement through the whole-of-government approach and not just through the defense arm? One is we try to build capacity in the -- the overall governments. We attempt to build resiliency, adaptability and prediction of where climate change is going to affect them. 

So in the mil-to-mil sense, that's why I need the State Partnership Program -- only have 16 across the whole continent. State Partnership Programs, you know what's at the core of that? Is our citizen soldiers -- soldiers of the United States. 

They've seen this numerous times. These same National Guard units respond in the United States to wildfires, they respond to hurricanes. They know this. So when they partner with African nations, they help them build that resiliency, they help them build capability -- capability and capacity into the military units and security elements to go out and help the population. That shows a robust and -- and effective method in building out their governance and creating that inextricable link to a bonding and -- belief in their governance. So those are some of the effects that come true. 

In addition to that, in preventive measures, in adaptability, that's why I need more of the U.S. Corps of Engineers. I wish we had more of them. They're -- they can do predictive measurements, they can help building levees, if you will. We've seen them do it in -- you know, post-Katrina. Those are institutions that we enjoy in the United States but can be of use as we go forward.

I don't think the PRC (People’s Republic of China) does that. They'll build bridges but they -- they kind of erode over time, and I think -- that's what their partners are telling me. We put into quality -- we put into quality and we do it earnest because it's -- it helps the people and -- but we help -- we are an enabler but it's actually partner-led.

QUESTION: Sir, just -- you can see this is only going to get worse. I mean, climate change is only going to get worse. Would that not argue for perhaps more resources going to AFRICOM? And -- and, I mean, there -- there aren't a lot of funds affiliated with the State Partnership Program. I -- couldn't you speed that up or could the National Guard Bureau speed that up to get those states partnered with the countries in Africa?

GEN. LANGLEY: Good question, and that's -- that's what -- that's part of the reason I'm here in Washington, that's part of the reason I testified in front of Congress and -- and make calls, cause they ask me what do I need. It's not so much what the Department of Defense needs, it's to -- what the whole of government needs in that 3D construct. As we bolster, I'm asking to bolster these capacities and these capabilities that we have inherent in our overall U.S. government construct.

STAFF: With that, we're out of time, sir, unless you have any final closing remarks?

GEN. LANGLEY: Thanks, everybody, and thanks for helping me get my message out. It's been an honor and a privilege to command in AFRICOM and I just had a realization on my travels these -- these countries have their objectives, and I just can't clump in Africa – as Africa as a continent. Each country has their aspiration, have their plans, but it's -- it's them engaging with each other to achieve their goals and I'm just happy to be there to enable. Thanks.

STAFF: Thank you. All right, that concludes today's brief. Happy Friday, happy St. Patrick's Day.