Ambassador Leonard Remarks – African Land Forces Summit

General Phiri, General Allyn, Excellency Ghambi, Ambassadors, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is my distinct honor to be in Lilongwe, Malawi to participate in the fifth African Land Forces Summit.  I would like to personally commend the Malawian Defense Forces for hosting this high level event, bringing together Land Forces Chiefs from across Africa to discuss cooperative solutions to regional and trans-regional threats.

By collectively addressing regional concerns through this forum, I am confident we will reinforce U.S. and African partnerships to promote security, stability and peace in Africa, through strengthening leadership and strategy development in the defense institutions of our African partners.

The theme for this year’s Summit is “enhancing capacity through partnership in Africa.”  This theme resonates with all of the initiatives we support and the relationships we are building across this continent.

As the Ambassador to U.S. Mission to the African Union, developing “stronger ties based on mutual respect and understanding” forms the basis of the enduring partnership the United States has developed over the past ten years with the African Union.

The African Union has articulated a vision for its future through Agenda 2063 which outlines the aspirations for an “enduring Pan-African vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens.” The vision of the African Union and its member states is to elevate the region as a global player, and through engaging in the African land Forces Summit, this bring us one step closer to realizing this vision.

Africa’s rise is not just important for Africa, it’s important to the entire world.  In Angola, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, we’ve seen conflicts end and countries work to rebuild.  African nations and their citizens are supporting their neighbors at every stage.

Through our enhanced partnership with the African Union, the United States is able to support urgent needs while helping to develop peace building capacity on the continent that will help realize our common goals.

Whether it is to neutralize al-Shabaab in Somalia, to degrade violent extremist organizations in the  Sahel and Maghreb, contain Boko-Haram in the Lake Chad Basin area, or  to interdict illicit activities in the Gulf of Guinea/and the Central Africa, the United States remains a steadfast partner for African member states.  We continue to stand by the African Union in building its peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance capacity.

The United States has provided more than $1 billion to support the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and its troop contributors with equipment, logistics, and training to counter al-Shabaab forces.  In support of the regional partners, we have collectively created conditions for a successful political processes for newly elected Somali Government to accelerate the formation and training of the Somali National Army (SNA).

The United States also provides technical assistance to the African Union Continental Early Warning System team to mitigate crises before they emerge, offering regular assessments of vulnerabilities to predict potential conflicts on the continent.

Moreover, the United States solidified a collaborative partnership with the AU Special Envoy for Woman, Peace, and Security to increase member state accountability by  collaborating in countries experiencing conflict or gender-based violence.

I’m very proud to share with you the news of our successful completion of the Africa Logistic Forum, held April 24-27 at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa.  This pan-African event, co-hosted by U.S Africa Command and the African Union Peace and Security Commission, convened senior security sector professionals to critically evaluate logistics capacity within Africa.

Participants from African nations, partner countries, and the United States, representatives from the African Union, China, European Union, and the United Nations gathered to discuss the Continental Logistics Base and logistics capacity in support of the African Standby Force.

During the Forum, we achieved critical objectives. We clarified the roles and responsibilities of the African Union, member states and regional economic communities in providing effective logistics support to the African Standby Force.

We reviewed the relationship between the Continental Logistic Base and the Regional Logistics Depots and made recommendations for effective harmonization and working relationships while we assessed partner support for the operationalization of this initiative.

The United States remains a steadfast partner for Africa and continues to stand by the African Union and its member states as we endeavor to increase cooperation and enhance the capacity of our African partners to enhance regional security.  As Africa stands against terror and conflict, and for Peace, Prosperity, and Security I want you to know that the United States stands with you.

Thank you very much for your time, and I look forward to discussing and sharing ideas of topics discussed during the African Land Forces Summit.