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'Our African Partners' - Partnership, Not Dominance, for AFRICOM

On November 20, I participated in a Department of Defense Blogger's Roundtable with Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, Deputy to the Commander for Military Operations, US Africa Command. A transcript of the question and answer session is available here as well as audio here.

Concentrating on the formation of AFRICOM and its mission, Vice Admiral Moeller answered questions on topics regarding maritime security, counterterrorism, and inter-agency relations among others. The most notable aspect of Vice Admiral Moeller’s remarks was his heavy use of the phrase “our African partners.”

As an example:
Clearly, you know, working with our African partners -- I mean, the challenge -- and we will look to support, again, where it makes sense to do so and the best of our ability some of the issues with regard to the many medical challenges that confront many of our African partners in terms of HIV/AIDS, the challenges of malaria and those kinds of things; because clearly to be able to develop capacity in the forces of our African partners requires a force that is physically capable of, you know, our being able to work with and support them, to have the capacity to do the kinds of things that we want to do with them and we believe that they would want to do -- but that requires a relatively healthy armed force to be able to do those kinds of things.
Having used the phrase 21 times throughout the conversation, its persistent use is evidence that American government officials, both civilian and military, are working to make clear that the establishment of AFRICOM is not intended to facilitate the military domination of the African continent by the United States. It is instead intended to better enable military cooperation with African states.