Archive for the 'AFRICOM Blog' Category

An artist at AFRICOM

The Monet behind the paintings in the Kelley Barracks coffee shop works just down the street.

Brian D. Perry Sr., the chief of resources, programs, and requirements at AFRICOM J7, directs a paintbrush in his spare time. His bright impressionistic-style paintings of still life and cityscapes hang above coffee tables in the cozy cafe, adjoining an entrance to the Kelley Theater.

Artwork by Brian D. Perry Jr.

Artwork by Brian D. Perry Jr.

He’s a self-taught artist who started dabbling in pastel sticks four years ago, while enrolled at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.

“I was bored one day, and I just bought some paper and pastels,” he said. He sketched out the reflection of glasses on a café table. “I brought it into class on Monday, and the people said it was really good.”

An interest in art was sparked. He began painting regularly: the view of Boblingen from his bedroom window, colorful flowers in a vase, sailboats.

What to do with all the art? “I needed some place to show it,” he said.

His first gallery of sorts was the hallways of the Swabian Center on Patch Barracks. “I knew I was doing well when someone stole one of the paintings,” he said.

Then he won an MWR art contest, which put his art in the running for the all-Army contest – which he also won.


Gregory Holzinger, USAG Stuttgart Family and MWR director, presents Brian D. Perry Sr. with an MWR art award in 2008, as Perry's grandson looks on.

His artwork also made it to the MWR walls and, for a while, decorated the blank walls of the new U.S. Africa Command. To sell his art in the Kelley Barracks coffee shop through the MWR, he he has to give 20 percent of any coffee-shop sale to MWR.

After his art was displayed in the coffee shop, other artists began adding theirs to the make-shift gallery.

Perry sells his artwork for $150 to $300. He estimates he’s sold 60 paintings. He sold 18 to “Executives Suites Stuttgart,” which furnishes luxury apartments for traveling professionals.

Painting of church by Brian D. Perry Sr.

Painting of church by Brian D. Perry Sr.

Over time, Perry has discovered new techniques. With acrylic, the paint will wash off easily. “A lot of the time, I take it into the shower and get a whole different effect. It washes off maybe 80% of the paint. I just keep putting it into the shower until I get it right.”

This method came to him unexpectedly, when he couldn’t quite get the painting of an angel to his liking. After multiple washings, the canvas had become pure frustration, and he was ready to throw it in the trash. His wife, though, thought it could really be something. And, sure enough, he kept at the muted effect, which turned into a finished piece that was later bought. That art collector, Perry said, keeps the subdued angel painting in the centerpiece of his hallway of art, with a dedicated light shining on it.

“There is true inspiration here at AFRICOM,” he said. “I am fortunate to have been able to tap into that.”

Full AFRICOM Reading List

Maintaining up-to-date information and deep knowledge about Africa is critical to the team at the U.S. Africa Command. To that end, a reading list was compiled to provide suggestions. Thanks to the AFRICOM Research Library for providing us with this list. Look for an upcoming story on the library, new to Kelley Barracks.

Overview of Africa

“France’s Relationship with Sub-Saharan Africa,” Anton Andereggen

“Africana: The Encyclopedia of African and African American Experience,” Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates

“Geography of Sub-Saharan Africa,” Samuel Aryeetey-Attoh

"Geography of Sub-Saharan Africa"“Africa Works: Disorder as Political Instrument,” Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz

“The Black Man’s Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State,” Basil Davidson

“The Search for Africa: History. Culture, Politics,” Basil Davidson

“The Shackled Continent: Africa’s Past, Present and Future,” Robert Guest

‘The Africans,” David Lamb

“Beyond Humanitarianism: What You Need to Know about Africa,” Princeton N. Lyman and Patricia Dorff

“The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence,” Martin Meredith

“Cultural Atlas of Africa,” Jocelyn Murray (Out of Print)

“Africa Since 1800,” Roland Oliver and Anthony Atmore

“A Short History of Africa,” Roland Oliver and J.D. Fage (Out of Print)

“Bury the Chains,” Adam Hochschild

“The Scramble for Africa: White Man’s Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876-1912,” Thomas Pakenham

“Africa: A Biography of the Continent,” John Reader

“Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa,” Keith B. Richburg

“Into Africa: Intercultural Insights,” Yale Richmond and Phyllis Gestrin (2nd ed. titled “Into Africa: A Guide to Sub-Saharan Culture and Diversity”)

“How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,” Walter Rodney

“United States Foreign Policy toward Africa: Incrementalism Crisis and Change,” Peter J. Schraeder

“Malaria Dreams: An African Adventure,” Stuart Stevens

“Government and Politics in Africa,” William Tordoff


“Africa in Chaos: A Comparative History,” George RN. Ayittey

“Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism are Reshaping Our World,” Benjamin Barber

“African Guerrillas: Raging Against the Machine,” Morten Boas and Kevin Dunn

“Kalashnikov Culture: Small Arms Proliferation and Irregular Warfare,” Christopher Carr

“Politics and Society in Contemporary Africa,” Naomi Chazan, Peter Lewis, Robert Mortimer, and Donald Rothchild (Out of Print)

“Free at Last?: U.S. Policy Toward Africa and the End of the Cold War,” Michael Clough
"Wars, Guns, and Votes"

“Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places,” Paul Collier

“Disease and Empire: The Health of European Troops in the Conquest of Africa,” Philip D. Curtin

“Africa’s Armies: From Honor to Infamy,” Robert B. Edgerton

“Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil,” John Ghazvinian

“Clash of Civilizations,” Samuel Huntington

“Livingstone,” Tim Jeal

“The Coming Anarchy: Shattering Dreams of the Post Cold War,” Robert D. Kaplan

“More than Humanitarianism: A Strategic U.S. Approach toward Africa,” Anthony Lake and Christine Todd Whitman

“Victory on the Potomac: The Goldwater-Nichols Act Unifies the Pentagon,” James R.Locher III (Out of Print)

“The Policy Factor: Agricultural Performance in Kenya and Tanzania,” Michael Lofchie (Out of Print)

Development in Africa

“Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Africa’s Future,” George B.N. Ayittey

“The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working,” Robert Calderisi

“The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It,” Paul Collier

“The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much III and So Little Good,” William Easterly

"The End of Poverty"

“The Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business,” Graham Hancock

“The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity,” Michael Maren

“The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time,” Jeffrey Sachs


“The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS,” Edward Hooper and Bill Hamilton


“Blood from Stones: The Secret Financial Network of Terror,” Douglas Farah

“The Red Sea Terror Triangle: Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Islamic Terror,” Shaul Shay

Northern Africa

“Morocco: The Islamist Awakening and Other Challenges,” Marvine Howe

“Algeria: Anger of the Dispossessed,” John Phillips and Martin Evans

Central Africa

“The Graves Are Not Yet Full: Race, Tribe, and Power in the Heart of Africa,” Bill Berkeley

“Heart of Darkness,” Joseph Conrad

“Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda,” Romeo Dallaire

“Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda,” Alison Liebhafsky Des Forges and Alison Des Forges (Library has a pdf version)

“We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda,” Philip Gourevitch

“King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa,” Adam Hochschild

“Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer,” Tim Jeal

“Across the Red River,” Christian Jennings

“The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa,” Rene Lemarchand

“All Things Must Fight to Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo,” Bryan Mealer

“Sowing the Mustard Seed: The Struggle for Freedom and Democracy in Uganda,” Yoweri K. Museveni

“A Bend in the River,” V.S. Naipaul

“The Congo From Leopold to Kabila: A People’s History,” Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja

“The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide,” Gerard Prunier

“In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu’s Congo,” Michela Wrong

East Africa / The Horn

“Against All Odds: A Chronicle of the Eritrean Revolution With a New Afterword on the Postwar Transition, Dan Connell

“The Zanzibar Chest, Aidan Hartley

“Abyssinian Chronicles: A Novel, Moses Isegawa

“Surrender or Starve: Travels in Ethiopia, Sudan. Somalia, and Eritrea, Robert D. Kaplan

“A History of Ethiopia Updated Edition, Harold G. Marcus

“Battle for the Bundu: The First World War in East Africa, Charles Miller (Out of Print)

“Ethiopia, The Unknown Land: A Cultural and Historical Guide, Stuart Munro-Hay

“Me Against My Brother: At War in Somalia, Sudan, and Rwanda, Scott Peterson

“I Didn’t Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation, Michela Wrong


“The Lost Boys of Sudan: An American Story of the Refugee Experience,” Mark Bixler

“God Grew Tired of Us: A Memoir,” John Bul Dau

“They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan,” Benson Deng, Alephonsion Deng, and Benjamin Ajak

“Khartoum 1885: General Gordon’s Last Stand, “Donald Featherstone

“Darfur: A New History of a Long War,” Julie Flint and Alex de Waal

“A Call for Democracy in Sudan,” John Garang

“A History of the Sudan: From the Coming of Islam to the Present Day,” P.M. Holt and M.W. Daly

“The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars,” Douglas Hamilton Johnson

“Inside Sudan: Political Islam, Conflict, and Catastrophe,” Donald Petterson

“Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide,” Gerard Prunier

“Emma’s War,” Deborah Scroggins

“The Triumph of the Sun,” Wilbur Smith (Out of Print)

“A Strategic Assessment of Sudan,” The Sudan Research Group (Out of Print)

Southern Africa

“Selous Scouts: Top Secret War,” Ron R. Daly

“A Complicated War: The Harrowing of Mozambique,” William Finnegan

“Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa,” Peter Godwin

“Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC,” William Gumede

“Bloodsong!: An Account of Executive Outcomes in Angola,” James Hooper

“Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela,” Nelson Mandela

“The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War,” Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva

“Kaffir Boy: An Autobiography –The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa,” Mark Mathabane

“Diamonds, Gold, and War: The British, the Boers, and the Making of South Africa,” Martin Meredith

“The Washing of the Spears: The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation,” Donald R. Morris

“Boer War,” Thomas Pakenham (Out of Print)

“Cry, the Beloved Country,” Alan Paton

“Mandela: The Authorized Biography,” Anthony Sampson

“The Mind of South Africa,” Allister Sparks (Out of Print)

“Dead Leaves: Two Years in the Rhodesian War,” Dan Wylie

West Africa

“Things Fall Apart,” Chinua Achebe

“A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier,” Ishmael Beah

“In the Land of Magic Soldiers: A Story of White and Black in West Africa,” Daniel Bergner

“French Lessons in Africa: Travels with My Briefcase through French Africa,” Peter Biddlecombe

“Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadlv Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones,” Greg Campbell

“West Africa before the Colonial Era: A History to 1850,” Basil Davidson

“The Fall of the Asante Empire: The Hundred-Year War for Africa’s Gold Coast,” Robert B. Edgerton

“The Mask of Anarchy: The Destruction of Liberia and the Religious Dimension of an African Civil War,” Stephen Ellis

“Travels in West Africa,” Mary Kingsley

“Sahara Unveiled: A Journey across the Desert,” William Langewiesche

“Designing West Africa: Prelude to 2151 Century Calamity,” Peter Schwab

“War Dog: Fighting Other People’s Wars – The Modem Mercenary in Combat,” Al Venter

“How De Body? One Man’s Terrifying Journey through an African War,” Teun Voeten

“Liberia: The Heart of Darkness,” Gabriel LH. Williams


“The Shadow of the Sun,” Ryszard Kapuscinski

“Facing the Congo: A Modem Day Journey into the Heart of Darkness,” Jeffrey Tayler

“Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town,” Paul Theroux

Middle East/Religion

“The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an,” English/Arabic Translation, Abdullah Yusef Ali

“African Islam and Islam in Africa: Encounters between Sufis and Islamists,” Eva Evers Rosander and David Westerlund (Out of Print)

“History of the Arab Peoples,” Albert Hourani

“History of Christianity in Africa: From Antiquity to the Present,” Elizabeth Isichei

“Reliance of the Traveller: The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law Umdat Al-Salik,” Ahmad ibn Lulu ibn Al-Naquib

“History of Islam in Africa,” Nehemia Levtzion and Randall L. Pouwels

“The Arabs in History,” Bernard Lewis

“The Future of Christianity,” Alister E. McGrath

“Milestones,” Sayid Qutb

“Islam and Muslim Politics in Africa,” Benjamin Soares and Rene Otayek

“A History of the Church in Africa,” Bengt Sundkler and Christopher Steed (Out of Print)

“History of Christianity in Africa in the Context of African History,” Fran J. Verstraelen

The Koran (translated into English)

(Don’t know where to begin? Check out the top picks.)

What books would you recommend?


Top Picks from AFRICOM Reading List

"Things Fall Apart" coverMaintaining up-to-date information and deep knowledge about Africa is critical to the team at the U.S. Africa Command. To that end, a reading list was compiled to provide suggestions. Here are some top picks. Check the blog next week for the full list.

Thanks to the AFRICOM Research Library for providing us with this list. Look for an upcoming story on the library, new to Kelley Barracks.

1.  “The Fate of Africa or The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence,” Martin Meredith (2005).  A narrative history of Africa over the last fifty years, with a focus on people and key events.  This is a great start point for those becoming acquainted with the African continent.

2. “Things Fall Apart,” Chinua Achebe (1958).  An African literary classic that captures the cultural intrusions represented by colonialism.  This book is one of the most well-known African novels, and as such should be required reading for individuals interacting in Africa.

3.  “The Road to Hell,” Michael Maren (1989).  An overview of the unintended consequences of U.S. humanitarian aid.  This book provides good insight into events that led to the violent end of U.S. involvement in Somalia.

"This Child Will Be Great" cover4.  “This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President,” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2009).  This is a compelling tale of the President of Liberia’s  early childhood, rise to power, and experiences with abuse, imprisonment, exile, and fight for democracy and social justice.

5.  “Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust,” Immaculée Ilibagiza (2006).  This is an inspiring story about a young Rwandan woman’s genocide survival.  Her story gives us hope in overcoming the divisions deliberately created by those with self-serving agendas and no thought for humanity.

6.  “Understanding Contemporary Africa,” April Gordon (2007).  An academic overview of the issues and challenges surrounding contemporary Africa.  Topics include African cultures, politics, religion, economies, gender relations, and literature.

"Long Walk to Freedom" cover7.  “Long Walk to Freedom,” Nelson Mandela (1995).  This book should be required reading if for no other reason than it recognizes and provides insight into one of Africa’s greatest Statesmen.

8.  “The State in Africa: Politics of the Belly,” Jean-Francois Bayart (1989).   A translation of the book: L’etat en Afrique: Politique du Ventre, the term “politics of the belly” is a metaphor for a nepotistic, corrupt African State in which government and business elite use their influence to enrich themselves, their families or ethnic kinsmen.  Similar in concept to neopatrimonialism, in which private sector support is bought by the state, this book addresses the form of governance that arose across much of Africa following independence.  Nigeria’s postcolonial experience is perhaps the most apt example of the “politics of the belly”.

9. “More Than Humanitarianism: A Strategic U.S. Approach Toward Africa,” Anthony Lake (2007).  This Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored Independent Task Force Report argues that Africa is becoming steadily more central to the United States and to the rest of the world in ways that transcend humanitarian interests.  Africa now plays an increasingly significant role in supplying energy, preventing the spread of terrorism, and halting the devastation of HIV/AIDS.  Africa’s growing importance is reflected in the intensifying competition with China and other countries for both access to African resources and influence in this region.  A more comprehensive U.S. policy toward Africa is needed, the report states, and it lays out recommendations for policymakers to craft that policy.

10. “World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe,”  Gerard Prunier (2009).  The Rwandan genocide sparked a horrific bloodbath that swept across sub-Saharan Africa, ultimately leading to the deaths of some four million people. This book offers a gripping account of how one grisly episode laid the groundwork for a sweeping and disastrous upheaval. The heart of the book documents how the whole core of the African continent became engulfed in an intractable and bloody conflict after 1998, a devastating war that only wound down following the assassination of Kabila in 2001.  The author indicts the international community for its lack of interest in what was then the largest conflict in the world.

"The African Union"11.  “The African Union: Challenges of Globalization, Security, and Governance,” Samuel Makinda (2007).  This book is a comprehensive examination of the work of the African Union (AU), with special emphasis on its capacity to meet the challenges of building and sustaining governance institutions and security mechanisms.  It articulates how Africa and, in particular, the AU can effectively address the challenges of building and sustaining governance institutions and security mechanisms only if they have strategic leadership.  Current debates on, and criticisms of, leadership in Africa are also analyzed as well as key options for overcoming the constraints that African leaders face.

12.  “African Security Governance,” Gavin Cawthra (2010).  A result of research carried out over several years by the Southern African Defence and Security Management Network (SADSEM), in co-operation with the Danish Institute for International Studies and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, this book covers many of Africa’s new and emerging security issu

es.  The broad focus is on security governance – the role of state and a wide range of social actors in the areas of both human and state security. It deals with a range of sectors, themes and national case studies and makes an important contribution to debates on security sector reform. The topics covered include policing transformation, intelligence governance, regulation of private security actors, challenges of nuclear proliferation, regional security, peace diplomacy and peace missions, the relationship between development and security, and new challenges in governance of the military.

Have you read one of these books? Let us know what you’d recommend in the comments below.

AFRICOM and social media: Making connections

Last week we asked visitors on our Facebook page to tell us where they’re from, what device they most often use to access the Internet and what information they’d like to glean from our site.

We want to know how we can make our content better and easier to access, and we want to know what information most interests you. We also want to learn from the many scholars, experts and regular folks who follow us online.

The answers re-affirmed one thing we already knew: AFRICOM’s 7,267 FB fans log in from all over the globe, with unique connections to the military, the command or Africa itself.

Those who “liked” or commented on the question came from countries including South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti, the UK, Indonesia and the U.S. They access the Internet mostly in traditional ways like cell phones and laptops.

Some have friends or family stationed here in Stuttgart with AFRICOM or other units. Others said they appreciated the news and updates we post. A few had specific requests: Updates on an upcoming military exercise and more information on Ghana.

Our 7,704 Twitter followers also had some specific requests when posed with a similar question. One wanted to know more about anti-terrorism efforts in Somalia. Another asked for suggestions on books or magazines about the region.

We’ve taken your suggestions so far under advisement, and will be basing our posts on them over the coming weeks. Our goal through our various social media sites – especially Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and this blog – is to highlight the hard work of AFRICOM’s units and the knowledge of our experts, and to help keep everyone informed on what’s happening in the AFRICOM area of responsibility.

If you haven’t already visited us on FB, Twitter or one of our other social media sites, be sure to check us out by clicking the links highlighted in the text or at the bottom of the blog. Also be sure to poke around our AFRICOM homepage – it’s a wealth of information.

If you’re a member of AFRICOM headquarters or one of our components, feel free to send us your stories, photos and videos.

One question we’re sometimes asked is about comments, especially on FB. Often comments seem off-topic or politically charged. We only delete comments after very careful review. We prefer to keep the page open to as much discussion and lively debate as possible.

We encourage you to join the dialogue and share your thoughts, insights and commentary.

That’s what makes it fun and keeps it interesting.

10 Things About Atlas Accord 2012

BT-67 air drop during Atlas Accord 2012

MOPTI, MALI -- A Malian Air Force BT-67 drops helicopter boxes as part of aerial re-supply training during operation Atlas Accord near Mopti, Mali on Feb. 13, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mark Henderson)

1. The Atlas Accord is an annual exercise that brings together U.S. Army personnel with militaries in Africa.

2. More than 300 military members and seven nations joined the exercise this year from Feb. 7 to 15, 2012.

3. Last year, Uganda hosted the exercise, which was called Atlas Drop.

4. Atlas Accord 2012 focused on enhancing air drop capabilities and ensures effective delivery of military resupply materials and humanitarian aid.

5. The learning goes both ways. “I learned they do a lot with a little. I don’t know how they handle trauma situations but, it’s impressive how they do it,” said Staff Sergeant Anthony P. Baca, an 807th MDSC Army healthcare specialist.

There have been challenges, but the Malians were very resourceful, said U.S. Army Capt. Bob V. Luthor from Huntington, W. Va., a team leader with Co. C, 2nd Bn., 19th SFG (Abn.). They removed a second set of pilot flight controls from one of the smaller aircraft to fit the supplies and personnel to drop them.

A cordon set up during Atlas Accord 2012

MOPTI, MALI — A Malian airmen set up a cordon around a helicopter box as part of the air drop recovery training with the 2/19th Special Forces as part of operation Atlas Accord 2012, near Mopti, Mali on Feb. 13, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mark Henderson)

6. African troops learned how to secure a drop zone in adverse conditions.  “The training was really interesting,” said Malian Army Sgt. Oumar Traore, as airborne infantryman.

“The 19th SFG taught us to set-up the operational readiness platform, to send out reconnaissance patrols, and establish security at the drop zone. We’ve learned how to conduct these operations under any circumstances. This exercise also helps us work with troops from other nations,” he said.

7. Atlas Accord also included a medical component. “We are training with the Malian medical personnel on different types of equipment that include cervical braces, finger splints, ring cutters, pressure bandages, back boards and more,” said Maj. Dean A. Nelson, a family physician and Wendell, Idaho native assigned to the 328th CSH, 807th MDSC.

MOPTI, MALI — U.S. Army Maj. Dean A. Nelson, 807th Medical Deployment Support Command, Fort Douglas, Utah, and Wendell, Idaho native, explains the use of a battery powered cauterizer pen to Malian Medical Defense Forces Col. Youssouf Treore, in Mopti, Mali, Feb. 7. The 807th MDSC were in Mali as medical support during Atlas Accord 12. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kimberly Trumbull)

8. The U.S. medics are also training, in a sense, on how to be better trainers. “The training will help our medics become better since they are teaching the Malians through interpreters and have to move slowly and ensure they are understood; it gives them a better understanding of the training they are providing,” said Lt. Col. David H. Moikeha, an emergency physician, and Coppell, Texas native, assigned to the 94th Combat Support Hospital, 807th MDSC.

 9. Thanks to the exercise, the Malian military will be able to improve its trauma care. “We receive so much trauma from highway accidents, military and civilian,” said Malian Army Col. Youssouf Treore, commander of the medical detachment in Mopti. “The equipment we have will help us care for the trauma patients we receive at our level.”

10. The exercise’ impact will reach far beyond February 2012. The pathfinder training during Atlas Accord 12 can potentially help future joint operations between partner nations to deliver humanitarian supplies safely to those in need.

— Compiled from various reports, including from Utah Army National Guard, Soldiers Radio News, U.S. Army Africa, AFRICOM, and others.

Interested in learning more? Check out:

Radio report on Atlas Accord from Soldiers Radio News (MP3)

Overview at the Close of Atlas Accord from Soldiers Radio News
Troops train on 4 aerial delivery systems
Training on FARP(Forward Arming and Refueling Point), as easy-access point in austere conditions (video)

U.S., Malian military medics train to save lives
Pathfinders ‘get the goods’

U.S., African Forces Mitigate Terror Group’s Impact

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2012 – U.S. special operations forces are helping four Central African nations reduce the size and lethality of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a group that has terrorized the region for 25 years, U.S. officials said today.

Navy Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey, commander of Special Operations Command Africa, said in a conf erence call with reporters that the LRA is down to about 200 core fighters. Karly Wycoff, deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, also participated in the call.

While still under the direction of its leader, Joseph Kony, the admiral said, the group is kept on the run in the remote, shared border region of South Sudan, Uganda, Central Africa Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo — an area about the size of California.

President Barack Obama ordered about 100 special operations forces to deploy to Central Africa in October to train and augment the capabilities of the African militaries in the region.

The U.S. effort to help the four-nation partnership counter the LRA is a comprehensive, multi-faceted strategy that has included training, funding, airlift, logistics, communications and intelligence support — specifically, fusing intelligence and support to operations, Losey and Wycoff said.

“With our support, these four military forces continue to make progress in reducing the LRA’s numbers and keep them from regrouping,” Wycoff said.

U.S. forces also are working closely with the State Department, the United Nations, the African Union and nongovernmental organizations to provide humanitarian relief in the region, Wycoff said.

“The military is only one part of a broader strategy,” Wycoff said. A large part of the strategy is to entice LRA members to defect and safely return home, with the help of government and aid organizations, he said, and to publicize those defections.

“One of the sad realities of this situation is that many of the perpetrators of these [LRA] atrocities were victims themselves, abducted in their childhood and forced to fight,” he said.

Wycoff likened Kony and his followers to a cult that has kidnapped and murdered civilians for two decades, causing an estimated 455,000 people to be displaced or to live as refugees. The LRA is not known to be involved in any money-making criminal enterprise, he said, but survives off foraging and pillaging of villages.

The LRA is implicated in 278 attacks and at least 300 abductions last year, which decreased at the end of the year, they said.

“Now they are only a small percentage of their former strength,” Losey said. But the fact that the LRA is operating at all, even at reduced strength, is terrifying to people in the region, he added.

Losey said the removal of Kony is one of the chief objectives in a broader mission to enable the four partner nations to be fully capable to counter the LRA. Though there is no timeline for the U.S. mission, he added, it also is not open-ended.

“We want to make very clear that we are supporting, and not leading, this effort,” he said.

The fact that the four African nations came together for the effort to defeat the LRA is an achievement, Losey said.

“This operation is at its core what U.S. Africa Command is all about,” he said. “In the long run, it is the Africans who are best suited to address” their regional security challenges.

Gabonese Military HIV/AIDS Program

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Nicole Dalrymple, U.S. AFRICOM Public Affairs Office wrote:

The nation of Gabon in Sub-Saharan Africa straddles the equator and is one of the least densely populated countries in Africa. The nation, which is about the size of Colorado, has an estimated population of 1.54 million people, which is smaller than some U.S. cities.

The week after Thanksgiving I had a chance to visit Gabon while supporting a senior leader visit by Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command’s deputy to the commander for civil-military activities. The visit’s main focus was maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and regional cooperation, but we got an opportunity to visit the Gabonese military’s HIV/AIDS program at Camp Baraka in Libreville.

The HIV prevalence rate in Gabon is estimated at 5.9 percent, with approximately 49,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. In the Gabonese Armed Forces, roughly 5,000 members, the HIV/AIDS prevalence is estimated at 4.3 percent.

We were told by staff at the U.S. Embassy that HIV/AIDS prevalence in Gabon is notably higher among young people and military personnel, which makes programs like Gabon’s Anti-AIDS Military Program (PMLS), established in 2002, very important. PMLS provides training, medical care and support, and outreach and educational activities targeted at vulnerable kids, orphans, widows and the military.

The U.S. Government has been supporting Gabon’s Anti-AIDS Military Program since 2003 through the DoD HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (DHAPP). Support has included funding for the acquisition of laboratory equipment, reagents and supplies related to the diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS. In fiscal year 2011, DHAPP provided $300,000 in funding support to Gabon.

Our visit to Camp Baraka included a ceremony where Ambassador Eric Benjaminson, the U.S. Ambassador to Gabon, joined by Ambassador Holmes, presented a $5,600 donation in equipment for the center. The donation included a refrigerator for medical supplies, printers and a computer.

During his remarks, Ambassador Benjaminson said that the office equipment was meant to assist the Gabonese military’s HIV/AIDS program as it works to create “new, progressive messages to promote HIV/AIDS awareness” and support activities “that will change any stigma or discrimination related to HIV/AIDS among military troops or civilians.”

The program also included a tour of the center and two special presentations. Members of the Gabonese military sang an original song that incorporates anti-HIV/AIDS messages that highlight the importance of knowing your HIV/AIDS status, getting tested, practicing abstinence, being faithful and using condoms. The song was followed by the Camp’s HIV/AIDS drama troupe performing a skit that put HIV/AIDS on trial.

The effects of HIV/AIDS extend beyond health, family and social impacts. The epidemic also threatens a nation’s security by reducing military readiness, limiting deployments, and hindering a military’s ability to support regional response and peacekeeping activities.

Reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS is a priority for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) because of the disease’s destabilizing effects on a nation and the readiness of its military.

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