Civilian Skills for African Military Officers to Resolve the Infrastructure, Economic Development, and Stability Crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • March 01, 2011
  • Ms Diane E Chido

For decades, a lack of economic opportunity has caused instability and violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Fortunately, U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) is in a unique position to increase stability and reduce the causes of violence and extremism through new partnerships and military-to-military training. The current training approach is very likely to be beneficial to African military officers currently on active duty; however, proficiency in military science alone will not provide the necessary skills for those separating from service and facing an uncertain future in societies that do not pay pensions on time, if at all, and do not offer economic opportunities, especially to those without the right expertise. USAFRICOM partnerships are an excellent foundation on which to provide engineering and other technical training for African military officers and NCOs. In this way, African nations can create indigenous capacity to construct and maintain needed infrastructure like power stations, dams, bridges, and roads. A robust engineering training program has the great potential to lead to improved civil-military relationships and to reduce instability through increased opportunities for separating service members. These new technical skills will enable separating service members, now in mufti, to positively contribute to the societies they once served while in uniform.