Small Wars Journal

Cooperating with African Armed Forces

Cooperating with African Armed Forces by Aline Leboeuf - Ifri Report

These programs consist of training and the deployment of military advisors, as well as material and financial support to various sub-Saharan African forces. Military cooperation faces a number of constraints, however, due to the “patchwork” nature of many African armed forces and, in many cases, their lack of professionalization. Although military cooperation may sometimes leave advisors frustrated, its impact in Africa is undeniable and perceptible in the long term, making it a highly important strategic tool. Nevertheless, military cooperation is facing serious challenges, and there is still a long way to go. To that end, cooperation will have to be engendered from the bottom up, with the deployment of advisors at the operational level, as well as from the top down, with the introduction of security sector reforms to facilitate the progressive yet sustained changes that African forces need.

Download the full report.


To help us to better understand what is really going on here, let's follow the bouncing ball:

o  From the "Introduction" of our report above:

"Terrorism was accorded a higher level of importance in the 2000s, while a spike in raw materials prices engendered considerable growth in the continent as well as influx in new investment from Asia and the West.  These two factors sparked renewed interest in Africa, which was viewed as fresh ground for financial opportunities, and hence gradually rose up through the hierarchy of global priorities.  These developments fed through into renewed cooperation between nations and private actors to "rebuild" and cooperate with Africa's military."

o  To the section of our report entitled: Security Sector Reform: Modernizing African Military Governance:  

"While it is possible to support those African forces that are deployed in peacekeeping operations using a bottom-up approach, a different path should also continue to be explored: namely, that of improving African armed forces from the top down via security sector reform.  Security sector reform began in the late 1990s, although implementation is a delicate matter, as such reform can be all-encompassing in nature."

o  And then on to the (current and still in effect?) USAID/DOD/DOS document entitled:  Security Sector Reform: 

"The 2006 U.S. National Security Strategy stated that the goal of U.S. statecraft is “to help create a world of democratic, well-governed states that can meet the needs of their citizens and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system.” SSR can help achieve that objective, reinforce U.S. diplomatic, development, and defense priorities, and reduce long-term threats to U.S. security by helping to build stable, prosperous, and peaceful societies beyond our borders. ... The USG is not alone in its pursuit of comprehensive approaches to SSR. The United Nations (UN) is integrating SSR across different UN offices and agencies, including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPKO). The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union (EU), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and major bilateral donors have advanced a more holistic SSR concept through combined funding mechanisms and enhanced collaboration among defense and development agencies. ... The Department of State leads U.S. interagency policy initiatives and oversees policy and programmatic support to SSR through its bureaus, offi ces, and overseas missions as directed by NSPD-1, and leads integrated USG reconstruction and stabilization efforts as directed by NSPD44. ... DoD’s primary role in SSR is supporting the reform, restructuring, or re-establishment of the armed forces and the defense sector across the operational spectrum. ...

Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

By "following the bouncing ball" here (from the "Introduction" of our report above, to the "Security Sector Reform" section thereof, and then on to our U.S. Government's "Security Sector Reform" document above), one can easily see that:

a.  Security Section Reform; this is designed to:

b.  Help provide that the outlying states and societies of the world might become better organized, ordered and oriented more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines.  And, this, so as to:

c.  Better provide for the business, investment, security, etc., needs of the U.S./the West.

Q:  Generally speaking then, what is the role of the military, police and intelligence forces of our partner nations in this regard -- and, thus, the role of our advisors in advising, assisting, training, etc., same? 

A:  To hold down, deal with and defeat those forces both inside the partner nation [think, for example, the job of the Minister of the Interior) and those forces outside the partner nation [think, for example, the job of the Minister of Defense] who seek to prevent the state and societal transformations -- more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines -- that we and our partner nations (or at least the present governments thereof) desire.