Archive for the 'AFRICOM Blog' Category

10 Things about Africa Partnership Station

Here’s a brief introduction to Africa Partnership Station (APS), U.S. Naval Forces Africa’s (NAVAF) flagship maritime security cooperation program. The focus of APS is to build maritime safety and security by increasing maritime awareness, response capabilities and infrastructure:

1)   One major focus of APS in 2011 was the beginning of African partners taking the lead in training other APS participants.

2)   APS engagement has involved over 30 African, European and South American nations, and interest to participate continues to grow.

3)   APS is inspired by the belief that effective maritime security will benefit all nations and contributes to development, economic prosperity and security, and will help deter violent extremist ideology ashore.

4)   Since 2007, APS has progressed from a series of bilateral port visits to a series of regional training engagements ashore and at sea.

5)   APS is developing African solutions to global problems and builds upon long-standing relationships.

6)  APS seeks to improve capabilities with partner naval forces using four “pillars” to increase maritime safety and security: Develop Maritime Domain Awareness—maintaining a clear picture of the maritime environment; build maritime professionals;                   establish maritime infrastructure; and develop response capabilities while building regional integration.

7)     Djibouti, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania, and Seychelles participate in exercise Cutlass Express for the first time in October 2011.

8) Through APS, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and NAVAF conduct engagement activities with international partners and governmental/non-governmental organizations to enhance African partner nations’ self sustaining capability to effectively maintain maritime security within their inland waterways, territorial waters, and exclusive economic zones.

9)     African, European and North and South American partners, and non-governmental organizations share a common goal of regional prosperity, stability and peace.

10)  In port for Africa Partnership Station 2012, High Speed Vessel Swift sailors recently completed their community service project at Kinondi Muslim High School in Tanzania.

Africa Snapshot: Cameroon

Cameroon lies at the junction of western and central Africa. The nation is currently hosting this year’s Africa Endeavor, an annual 1n-day communications exercise focusing on interoperability and information sharing among African partners.  The goal of Africa Endeavor is to develop command, control, and communication tactics, techniques, and procedures that can be used by the African Union in support of future combined humanitarian, peacekeeping, peace support and anti-terrorism operations.

Population: According to the CIA World Factbook, the population will be around 20 million this summer.

Languages: English and French are the official languages of Cameroon, but there are 24 major African language groups in the country, as well.

Religion: 40% of the population practices indigenous beliefs.  Another 40% of the population is Christian, while the other 20% is Muslim.

History: Malaria kept Europeans out of Cameroon until the 1860s, when they began establishing coastal trade and slave trade. Christian missions put down roots in the late 1800s, and they continue to play a role today.  In 1884, all of present-day Cameroon and parts of its neighboring areas became a colony of Germany called Kamerun.  After World War I, the colony was divided between Britain and France. In 1955, an armed struggle to gain independence in French Cameroon began. Independence was achieved in 1960.  A year later, the largely Muslim, northern two-thirds of British Cameroon voted to join Nigeria, while the largely Christian southern third voted to join the Republic of Cameroon, thus forming the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The federation was replaced with a unitary state in 1972. Paul Biya has been president since 1982. He was re-elected to another seven-year term in October 2011.

Economy: Cameroon faces some of the same challenges as other underdeveloped countries, but it does have oil resources and good conditions for agriculture. Foreign investors have become interested in diamond mining projects in Cameroon. Because Cameroon has one of the worst business environments in the world, many foreign investors do not pursue business ventures with the country. Human trafficking is also a serious issue.

Geography: Although Cameroon may look tiny on the map of Africa, it’s actually larger than California. Periodically, volcanos will release toxic gases. The most active volcano in West Africa is Mount Cameroon.

Relations with the United States: Relations between the two nations are good.  According to the U.S. Department of State Background Note on Cameroon, U.S. assistance to the African nation was over $26 million in 2010.

Sources: CIA Factbook State Department Background Note – Cameroon , Britannica Online, AllAfrica, Presidency of the Republic of Cameroon

10 Things about Africa Center for Strategic Studies

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?

Africa Snapshot: Sierra Leone

Located in West Africa, Sierra Leone is nestled between Liberia and Guinea on the coast of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Population: According to the CIA Factbook, the estimated population for July 2012 is 5,485,998.


English is the official language of Sierra Leone, but the regular use of it is limited to the literate minority.  Mende is the vernacular in the south, and Temne is the vernacular in the north.  Krio, an English-based Creole, is spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who settled in Freetown.  It is understood by 95% of the population.

Religion: 60% of the country is Muslim, 10% are Christians.  30% of the population practice indigenous beliefs.

History: The first slaves were brought into North America from Sierra Leone in 1652. Their rice-farming skills were in great demand by plantations in Georgia and South Carolina during the 18th century.  In the 1780s, the British returned 400 freed slaves from various parts of the world back to Sierra Leone. They settled in an area they called “Province of Freedom,” which is now the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown. Britain colonized Freetown in 1792. Thousands of returning Africans, who were originally from all over Africa, settled in Freetown. They came to be known as Krio.

During the 19th century, Sierra Leone become a prime spot for education in West Africa. Modeled after European universities, Fourah Bay College was established in 1827. It became the foundation of the present-day University of Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone achieved independence from Britain peacefully in April 1961. Controversial elections in 1967 led to multiple coups.  Finally, in April 1968, Siaka Steven, the Freetown mayor and All Peoples Congress party leader, become the prime minister and the constitution was restored. Steven was the head of state until 1985, when Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh took power.

Under Steven’s leadership, the constitution was changed to ban all political parties except the All Peoples Congress. The multi-party system was restored in 1991, a Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh took power. , who practiced many abuses of power.  Eventually, a coup forced Momoh into exile in Guinea, leaving a new group, the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) as the ruling authority.

The 1990s saw much turmoil over the control of the country, including coups. A group called the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) took over much of the countryside by the mid-90s and repeatedly tried to overthrow the government. Eventually, in 1999, President Kabbah and the RUF leader signed a peace agreement that included an international peacekeeping force. Fighting, though, continued into the 21st century, prompting help from Guinean troops.

In January 2002, President Kabbah declared the end to the civil war. He was re-elected in May 2002. The UN peacekeeping mission wrapped up in 2005.

Ernest Koroma was elected president of Sierra Leone in 2007. Both presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2012.

Economy: Sierra Leone relies on other countries for financial assistance. Nearly half of the country’s exports come from alluvial diamond mining. Almost half of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture.

Relationship with the United States: The United States established an embassy when Sierra Leone gained its independence in 1961.  Assistance from the U.S. focuses on health education, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS, human rights and the development of human resources.

Sources: CIA Factbook , State Department Background Note – Sierra Leone , Britannica Online, the University of Sierra Leone

Africa Snapshot: The Gambia

The smallest country on the continent of Africa, The Gambia is surrounded by Senegal and borders the North Atlantic Ocean.  From June 4 to 8, 2012, a workshop on “Practical Tools for Surveillance, Diagnosis, Prevention and Control of Major Transboundary Animal Diseases” is being held in Banjul, the capital of The Gambia.  The workshop is supported by US Africa Command and organized by the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Office for West and Central Africa, in collaboration with United States Agency for International Development-United States Department of Agriculture Sanitary and Phytosanitary adviser for West Africa and the Ministry of Agriculture of The Gambia.  Epidemiologists and lab technicians from The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone will be learning practical tools for the surveillance, diagnosis, prevention and control of six transboundary animal diseases. These diseases hamper the production of livestock and constrain economic development.

Population: According to the CIA World Factbook, the population was 1.78 million in 2009.

Languages: English is the official language, but Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, Jola, Sarahule and other indigenous languages are also spoken.

Religion: 90% of the population is Muslim.  8% practice Christianity, while 2% practice other religions. Gambians officially observe the holidays of both Islam and Christianity and practice religious tolerance.

History: Through written accounts of Arab traders coming through the region in the ninth and tenth centuries A.D., it is known that The Gambia was once part of the Mali and Kaabu Empires.  Arab traders established a trade route in that area for ivory, gold and slaves.  Using maritime routes, the Portuguese took over trade in the 15th century.  Exclusive trade rights to the Gambia River were sold to English merchants in the late 1500s.  In 1783, after years of struggle between England and France for control in the region, the Treaty of Versailles granted England possession of The Gambia.

It is believed that as many as 3 million slaves were taken from the region while the transatlantic slave trade operated.  In 1807, slave trade was abolished in the British Empire, and England tried unsuccessfully to abolish slave trade in The Gambia.   It finally came to an end in 1906 when slavery was abolished.  By that time, The Gambia was almost completely self-governed.

The Gambia’s troops fought with the Allies in Burma during World War II.  During this time in history, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spent the night in Banjul while en route to the Casablanca Conference.  This was the first visit to the continent by an American president in office.

Full self-government was granted in 1963, followed by independence from Great Britain in 1965.  The Gambia became a republic on April 24, 1970. The Gambia and Senegal signed a friendship and cooperation treaty in 1991, but tensions have sporadically flared between the two nations.

Economy: Agriculture accounts for 24% of the gross domestic product.  Peanuts and other crops are grown in the region, but livestock, fishing and forestry are also important.  Manufacturing activities include peanut processing, soap  and clothing.

Sources: CIA Factbook , State Department Background Note – The Gambia

Africa Snapshot: Djibouti

Located on the Horn of Africa, the Republic of Djibouti shares borders with Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia.  The country sits on the Bab el Mandeb Strait, which separates the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden. Djibouti gained its independence from France on June 27, 1977, but keeps close ties with the European nation.  More than 75% of its population lives in urban areas.

Population: According to the CIA Factbook, the estimated population for July 2012 will be 774,389. The entire country is almost as big as the state of Massachusetts.

Languages: Most Djiboutians are multilingual; Arabic and French are the official languages of Djibouti, but Somali is the most widely spoken language. Afar is spoken in the Afar areas.

Religion: 94% of the population is Muslim, while 6% is Christian.

History: Early history of Djibouti was recorded through poems and songs. The earliest natives traded hides and skins for perfumes and other goods with people in Egypt, India and China.  Because of its proximity to the Arabian Peninsula,

the Somali and Afar tribes were the first on the continent to adopt Islam.

The French became increasingly interested in the area, then named French Somaliland, after the Suez Canal opened in 1869.    Trade flourished, and a new Franco-Ethiopian railway further increased trade relations. France struggled to maintain control of the region; after reorganizing, the colony was almost completely self-governed in the late 1950s.  In 1977, the colony became the Republic of Djibouti, and Hassan Gouled Aptidon was elected  the first president.  Djibouti still remains close to France, which provides economic aid and security.

Djibouti is the headquarters for the European Union’s “Atalanta” naval task force, which aids in the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia. 

Economy: With few natural resources and little industry, Djibouti relies heavily on banking, telecommunications and trade. Due to its ideal location and status as a free-trade zone, Djibouti is considered to be the trade hub in the Horn of Africa. It is quite reliant on imported consumer products.  The Djibouti-Addis Abba railway is a crucial source of revenue for the country, especially since more than three-fifths of Djibouti’s workforce is unemployed.

Relationship with the United States: Djibouti has maintained a healthy relationship with the United States since its independence in 1977.  The U.S. has been instrumental in providing humanitarian aid to the country, particularly in famine relief.  In 2002, Djibouti agreed to host an American military presence of about 2,200 at Camp Lemonnier, a former French base.  The USAID’s Food for Peace program has a warehouse for pre-positioned emergency food relief in Djibouti.  It is the only one of its kind outside of the continental United States.

Sources: CIA Factbook , Brittanica Online , U.S. Department of State Background Note – Djibouti

AFRICOM is on Facebook in English, French and Arabic

If you are reading this blog, you already know that U.S. Africa Command is active online. AFRICOM regularly updates its website, blog, Facebook account, Twitter account, Flickr photostream, and YouTube channel. You can read about the Commander’s 2012 Posture Statement and  watch videos of air-drop exercises in Mali.

But did you know much of that information is available in Arabic and French, too?

When you visit the AFRICOM website at, look to the top right corner for Français or Arabic to go to a Facebook page into French or Arabic. You’ll find a deep repository of information about the U.S. Africa Command to share with people who might be unfamiliar.

Both Facebook pages are designed to provide information and also to encourage dialogue.

You’ll find articles about African current events from various media sites such as France24 and Elaph. We are interested in hearing your thoughts and reactions, so feel free to comment on articles we share.

You can find even more information about AFRICOM inside the photo section of both the French and Arabic pages. Look for a photo album called Information Documents to find biographies of AFRICOM’s leadership and the commander’s posture statement.

Please let your friends who speak French and Arabic know about our French and Arabic Facebook pages. Thanks for spreading the word!

Are there other things you’d like to learn about AFRICOM? Are there other languages you’d like to share information about AFRICOM in? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Let’s say that again, but now in French …

Si vous lisez ce blog, vous savez déjà que le Commandement US pour l’Afrique (AFRICOM) est actif online. Son site Web, son blog, et ses comptes Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, et YouTube sont régulièrement mis à jour. Vous pouvez lire le rapport de positionnement du commandement de l’an 2012 et voir des vidéos des ravitaillements aériens lors des exercices au Mali.

Mais, saviez-vous que la plupart de ces renseignements sont également disponibles en arabe et en français?

Quand vous visitez le site Web de l’AFRICOM at, vous verrez dans le coin haut à droite les mots Français et  عربي. Cliquez sur ces mots pour accéder aux pages Facebook de l’AFRICOM en français ou en arabe.

Vous trouverez une mine d’information sur le commandement que vous pouvez partager avec ceux qui seraient intéressés.

Ces deux pages Facebook sont conçues non seulement pour fournir des renseignements mais aussi pour inciter le dialogue.

Vous trouverez des articles sur l’actualité africaine provenant de différentes sources médiatiques arabophones et francophones. Nous nous intéressons à vos points de vue et à vos réactions aux sujets abordés, alors n’hésitez pas à commenter sur nos affichages.

Vous pouvez trouver d’avantage d’informations sur l’AFRICOM dans la section « photos » des deux pages, en français et en arabe. Rechercher un album photo appelé « Documents d’information » pour trouver les biographies des hauts dirigeants de l’AFRICOM et la déclaration du positionnement opérationnel du commandant.

S’il vous plaît, mettez vos amis qui parlent le français et l’arabe au courant de nos pages Facebook et des sites d’Africom.

Désiriez-vous d’autres renseignements sur l’AFRICOM? Dans quelles autres langues désiriez-vous nos services d’information ? Répondez sur les espaces réservés aux commentaires ci-dessous. Merci!

… and now in Arabic

AFRICOM Facebook page in Arabic

What we’re saying on Twitter

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