Gen. Adem Mohammed, chief of general staff of the Ethiopian National Defence Force, spoke during the opening ceremony of the African Land Forces Summit, a conference co-hosted by U.S. Army Africa in Addis Ababa on February 18, 2020. His remarks have been edited to fit this format.
Africa today is a region of strategic importance. The global military superpowers are expanding their presence on the continent. Terrorism, extremist groups, illicit traffickers, pirates, organized criminals and other nontraditional security actors are seeking to establish a foothold and are challenging our security environment.
The complex threats are diverse and have no boundaries. They cross borders and undermine regional and international security. Complicating these dynamics are climate change and the cries of all people for social and economic justice.
These challenges require bilateral and multilateral military cooperation, an understanding of the security environment, and trust between military leaders.
Senior leader engagement is important in developing and maintaining trust among countries. As Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed said while accepting his 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, it is a saying shared in many African languages, “For you to have a peaceful night, your neighbor shall have a peaceful night as well.”
The theme of this summit is “Tomorrow’s security demands leadership today.” The African Land Forces Summit will bring senior military leaders from all across the continent to discuss issues of common interest and use a collaborative approach to confront regional and continental security issues. This summit is an opportunity for the military leaders to explore the importance of developing the defense institutions of tomorrow to train professional and accountable military leaders.
I hope our discussion will highlight the importance of collective efforts to realize our common goals of a safe, stable and prosperous African continent. It takes a few to make war, but it takes a village and a community of nations to build peace. As such it is important for African countries to work together in maintaining continental peace. Security threats don’t have borders, and no country should stand alone against nontraditional security threats.
Security challenges of the African continent cannot be addressed only through using hard or military power. Governments must create synergy, convergence and teamwork across the economic development and security domain to benefit the African people.