NATO delegation takes part in eighth round of military-to-military staff talks with the African Union
On 7 June 2023, a delegation led by the Director of NATO’s Cooperative Security Division of the International Military Staff, Lieutenant General Francesco Diella, was in Addis Ababa for the 8th iteration of military-to-military talks between NATO and the African Union. Discussions centred on the global security environment and security challenges, the ongoing cooperation between both organisations, NATO’s support to the African Stand-by Forces, education, training and exercises, as well as NATO’ Standardization process.
The meeting was officially opened by Mr. Zinurine Alghali, Acting Head of the Peace Support Operations Division of the African Union Commission (AUC). Mr. Alghali welcomed the NATO delegation to the Headquarters of the African Union Commission for the 8th NATO-AU Military to Military (MIL2MIL) Staff Talks and expressed his appreciation to NATO for the support provided to one of the main AUC activities, the African Standby Force (ASF) Reconceptualization Workshop. He further expressed his gratitude to the NATO Senior Military Liaison Office for the active collaboration with the AUC. He highlighted the importance of the MIL2MIL Staff Talks format and the necessity to continue enhancing the partnership between two organizations through more joint efforts.
Lieutenant General Antonio Lamas Xavier, Co-Chair of the Staff Talks and Chief of Staff of the ASF, also welcomed NATO Delegation, emphasising the importance of the NATO-AU cooperation especially in an extremely volatile and fluid security environment, constantly challenged by latent and emerging threats. He further highlighted that the current situation in Africa requires a more robust response from the AU that needs to be balanced with relevant budgetary restrictions. “It is therefore crucial to engage in joint efforts to address the common security threats, and strengthen the cooperation, friendship and brotherhood between the two organizations”, he said.
Lieutenant General Francesco Diella, Co-Chair of the Staff-Talks, expressed his appreciation to the AU leadership for the hospitality and commitment in organizing the 8th MIL2MIL Staff Talks. “Our presence here, as representatives of NATO and African Union, is a tangible proof of our commitment to addressing common security concerns and advancing stability in our regions”, Lieutenant General Francesco Diella stated in his opening remarks, stressing the importance of enhancing the partnership and fostering a robust framework for cooperation in an unpredictable international landscape marked by borderless security challenges. He also emphasized the fact that NATO is not only military but also a political alliance, and as such, seeks to increase its engagement and cooperation to the political level. “NATO and the African Union bring unique perspectives, experiences, and capabilities to the table. By joining efforts and leveraging our collective expertise, we can create a stronger, more resilient security architecture that responds effectively to the complex challenges we face”, he added.
Both delegations then briefed respectively on topics of mutual interests. Kicking off the programme, Mr. Michel Soula, Head of Section in the Political Affairs and Security Policy Division of the NATO International Staff, provided an overview of the NATO-AU political engagement and its way ahead. Taking the floor next, representatives from SHAPE and the Joint Force Command Naples briefed on opportunities for NATO to support the AU’s ongoing and emerging Peace Support Operations, especially in the provision of training and services (e.g. strategic air and sea lift to the African Union Transition Mission to Somalia). Resuming his intervention, Lieutenant General Xavier provided an overview on the state of play of the African Stand-by Forces (ASF), which paved the way for a useful discussion on the main requirements for NATO’s support, especially in terms of expertise sharing.
The discussions then addressed the key issue of education, training and exercise. As Lieutenant General Diella explained, “education, training and exercise are a very important part of military life. It is one of the core pillars necessary to build up reliable, effective and credible armed forces, and a key pillar of our cooperation”. Within this framework, the Director of the NATO Strategic Direction South Hub, Brigadier General Aydin Kilic, explained the role of the Hub within NATO, highlighting numerous avenues of potential cooperation with the AU. The last session of the day focussed on a presentation by a representative from the Allied Command for Transformation on NATO’ Standardization process. This constitutes an important area that the AU would like to replicate within its organisation.
The outcome of the meeting was then summarised in a list of concrete actions to be carried out in the coming months and beyond. Both Co-Chairs expressed satisfaction for the results achieved and committed to strengthen their engagement to address present and future issues of common concern. “Let us remain committed to open lines of communication and information sharing, all of which will serve to strengthen our cooperation and ensure a safer world for all. Let us go forth with renewed determination, working side by side, as we strive to create a future of peace, security, and prosperity for all”, they said.
The next MIL2MIL staff talks will be held in May/June 2024 at NATO.