The annual African Chiefs of Defense (CHoD) Conference 2023 offered a rare opportunity for military leaders to learn from fellow commanders on the front lines of some of the continent’s toughest battles.
“In the militaries and the assignments that we all have, learning is a responsibility of command,” Botswana’s Commander of the Defence Force Lt. Gen. Placid Segokgo told attendees. “It should go vertically from the bottom up and from the top down. It should go horizontally, across to influence at a peer level.”
Senior military leaders from 43 African countries convened at the 2023 CHoD Conference in Rome from February 27 to March 2 to network, build partnerships and help find African solutions to African security challenges.
Attendees listened as Brig. Gen. Scech Aues Mao’Mahad, Somalia’s defense attaché in Rome, shared hard-earned knowledge from the violence that has ravaged his country.
“The real issue is that we don’t listen to the people,” he said. “We don’t deliver services. We don’t deliver food and water, electricity. The people prefer terrorists to the government.”
The theme of the event was “How Resources & Requirements Affect our Mutual Reality and Reputation.” Five panel discussions and a keynote speaker addressed instability, protecting resources, maximizing technology, and crisis preparation and response along with other challenges.
Dozens of military leaders took the opportunity to create and enhance relationships, grow partnerships and discuss their shared visions for the future of multinational coordination, operations and interoperability in Africa.
Stability was a key element that wove throughout the conference, with discussions touching on root causes, indicators and directions of instability.
In just a few minutes, Mao’Mahad told stories and shared the lessons he had learned in Somalia. Addressing insecurity is just one way to lift a country.
“We have to go back to the people,” he said. “We have to go into a village, try to give water to them, try to give medicine to them, try to give schools, so that the government is present and strong. If there is less corruption, more accountability and transparency, that, I think, will be the way to start to fight against terrorism.”