Reprioritizing Development and Defense in Sub-Saharan Africa: Strategic Opportunity

  • September 15, 2015
  • Lieutenant Colonel Sharon K. E. Kibiloski

The idea of violent extremism as a security threat to the United States (U.S.) has evolved over the last 25 years, especially as it pertains to sub-Saharan Africa. Since the U.S. has not had to militarily confront large-scale violent extremism in sub-Saharan Africa, this region now provides the U.S. an exceptional strategic opportunity to move away from a military-dominated reflexive approach and instead fully commit to a more proactive human-focused approach to address the underlying conditions which allow violent extremism to grow and prosper. The U.S. must prioritize and adequately resource long-term development activities in key human-centered development areas focused on setting the conditions for stability in this region over military counterterrorism approaches which only address the immediate symptom of violent extremism. This paper makes three strategy-related recommendations focusing on resources, organizational structure and creativity, and two policy-related recommendations which focus on restraint and risk acceptance.