Title

Civil-Military Affairs And The African Command Center: How It Will Affect Somalia

Publication Date

2008

Abstract

The United States Department of Defense (DoD) is significantly expanding its role in humanitarian affairs. The percentage of U.S. foreign assistance being provided and channeled though the DoD has risen substantially since the onset of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In 1998 the DoD managed 3.5 percent of U.S. official development assistance (ODA), increasing to a staggering 21.7 percent in 2005. The effects of this change are severely seen among civilian agencies. In 1998 the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) managed over 64 percent of all U.S. ODA; by 2005 it dropped to 39 percent. The majority of this money is going toward increased DoD humanitarian programs in Iraq and Afghanistan such as the Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP). These heightened programs by the DoD indicate a rapid movement to fight terrorism in a way that has never been done before. This “success” is now transpiring in Africa with the establishment of the African Command Center (Africom). The U.S. is deeply concerned about the increased potential for Africa to become a breeding ground for terrorists while at the same time protecting their interests in oil. Africom is labeling itself as a different kind of command center, integrating both military and civilian personnel. The objectives of Africom are many, but with a high degree of focus on failed and failing states such as Somalia, a country without a functioning government in over seventeen years. Therefore, one must ask: How has the DoD’s expansion with civil-military programs in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to the development of Africom? In view of the larger pattern of America’s persistence in ridding the world of terrorism and its constant dominance in the pursuit of oil, will Africom’s capacity to pursue a dual mission - humanitarian and peacebuilding and the war on terror – with its unique challenges and opportunities, be effective? Does Africom understand the socio-cultural context of Somalia - a nation filled with terrorism, little governance and a society embedded with historical roots and a strong stance on clanship – and what tools and experience does the organization have to build peace in Somalia? Finally, what recommendations should be made to Africom and its mission to bring peace and stability to Somalia? Looking at models by Lederach and Galtung explains the dire need for Africom to understand the root causes of conflict and work closely with all levels of society in Somalia. Africom gives the impression that they are able to make quick changes, but to honestly make any changes it requires patience and decades-long approaches to state building. Additionally, Africom must clarify all agency roles and responsibilities in carrying out operations. Finally, Africom must listen to all African countries in order to understand their desires and aspirations so that peace, security and development can be achieved.

Disciplines

Military and Veterans Studies | Peace and Conflict Studies

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