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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Media Roundtable on Africa Security Issues

Tom Kelly
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
Washington, DC
August 4, 2014


Good afternoon. I have the pleasure of representing the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. In partnership with the Department of Defense, we work every day on political-military issues like security assistance, peacekeeping, and weapons removal. Some of the most critical work we do is in Africa. I’d like to briefly describe three particularly important areas of cooperation.

Security assistance underpins everything we do. U.S. security assistance seeks to help our African partners to build more capable and professional militaries. Our support addresses transnational threats such as terrorism and the trafficking of weapons, persons, and drugs. U.S. security assistance in Africa is critical to the resolution of conflicts on the African continent in places like Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic.

Secondly, we work to strengthen international peacekeeping capacity. The demand for well-trained and equipped peacekeepers has surged over the past decade, with more than 117,000 peacekeepers currently serving nine UN peacekeeping operations on the African continent, as well as two others managed by the African Union. Through the U.S. Global Peace Operations Initiative, or GPOI, the United States has trained 250,000 peacekeepers from 25 African countries since 2009.

Finally, through our Weapons Removal and Abatement programs over two decades, the U.S. has helped 31 African countries to destroy conventional weapons. This assistance supports African nations’ efforts to secure or destroy conventional arms and ammunition. Our support has enabled countries like Nigeria, Burundi, and Uganda to rid their territories of landmines.

How do these programs contribute to the Summit theme of “Investing in the Next Generation?” Security is a fundamental building block for progress. Our goal is to strengthen the bonds between the United States and the nations of Africa in order to make the entire continent more secure and stable. The ultimate goal is an African continent whose democracies and economies can flourish, unlocking the vast potential of the African people. Thank you.

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