Here’s a brief introduction to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the Department of Defense’s top center for strategic security studies, research, and outreach in Africa:
1) Part of the inspiration for the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) was its European counterpart: the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. The Marshall Center focuses on security studies and cooperation among nations in North America, Europe and Eurasia. It hosts resident programs with a strong academic focus and non-resident programs geared toward current issues and problem-solving. The Marshall Center’s home in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, was officially dedicated in 1993.
2) The Africa Center was officially established in March 1999 just outside the nation’s capital, in Arlington, Va. Today, it is headquartered at the National Defense University at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.
3) The Africa Center also has regional offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Dakar, Senegal.
4) The Africa Center offers a variety of programs, seminars and conferences each year. It is not an academic institution, and thus does not bestow degrees or credits.
5) Rather than call participants “alumni” after they have attended an ACSS program, the Africa Center prefers to call them “community members.” This wording highlights the importance of mutually beneficial relationships forged at the center that will connect the participants and Africa Center around the globe, far into the future.
6) Those “community members” number about 4,400. The Africa Center community includes African heads of states – current and former – as well as senior military leaders, ambassadors, diplomats, academic professionals, senior leaders from the U.S. government, directors of international organizations, and many others.
7) Africa Center encourages “community chapters,” rather than alumni associations. Dozens of ACSS community chapters have been started all over Africa. Read about the 29th chapter, started in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
8) The Topical Outreach Program (TOPS) is one example of an ACSS program. During a TOPS, ACSS staff members visit an African country that has an ACSS community chapter. The Africa Center will co-sponsor with the chapter a topical program on a security subject. Read about a topical symposium in Swaziland that focused on transnational threats in the sub-region, as well as gender, security and development.
9) The Africa Center website includes a compilation of analyses on security issues, including counter narcotics, electoral security, piracy, peacekeeping, preventing and reversing military coups, stabilization of fragile states, and much more. The views are those of the authors, only, and do not represent endorsement by the Africa Center.
10) Africa Center’s planned 2012 schedule includes several TOPS events, an African Air Chiefs Conference, an Introduction to African Security Issues seminar in D.C., an East African workshop on countering illicit networks and irregular threats, a maritime safety and security seminar, and much more. What else do you think the center should be tackling?