Chair of the NATO Military Committee attends African Chiefs of Defense Conference in Botswana

  • 26 Jun. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 27 Jun. 2024 08:27

From 24 to 26 June 2024, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, attended the US AFRICOM African Chiefs of Defense Conference in Botswana, where he delivered a speech on security governance and partnerships. The conference was organised by the US-Africa Command and brought together top military leaders from across Africa to exchange knowledge, encourage partnerships and foster collaboration in the field of security.

The Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, speaks at a panel discussion on Security Governance and Partnerships during the 2024 African Chiefs of Defence Conference

This year’s edition took place in Gaborone and was co-hosted by the United States and Botswana. On the side-lines of the conference, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee engaged in meetings with the Chiefs of Defence of Botswana, Cabo Verde, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal. Admiral Bauer also met with the Ghanaian Force Commander of the Accra Initiative Multinational Join Task Force and US AFRICOM commander Gen. Michael E. Langley. The purpose of these meetings was to share views on the latest security developments in the region and discuss avenues for cooperation.

During a panel intervention on ‘Security Sector Governance and Enhancing Partnerships with the South’, Admiral Bauer stated that partnerships enrich NATO’s situational awareness in areas beyond its direct neighbourhood, and they ensure that NATO can successfully contribute to common security challenges. “Partnerships are not only about what we do, they are also about who we are. In the Alliance, we wish to partner with others to meet our security challenges. What happens in Europe, affects Africa. And what happens in Africa, affects Europe.”

The Chair of the Military Committee also highlighted the importance of a well-coordinated security system, where the relationship between the political and military authorities is balanced. “In order to be effective, the top military level needs to be able to provide unfettered military advice to the top political level. This requires mutual trust.” Admiral Bauer also stressed the importance of mission command. This means that the top strategic leadership determines the ‘why’ and the ’what’, and the lower level leadership determines the ‘how’.

The lack of proper mission command explains many of Russia’s military failures in its war of aggression against Ukraine. The Ukrainian armed forces had implemented mission command as a result of many years of training alongside Allied Armed Forces. It is ingrained in the Ukrainian military culture to leave room for creative solutions and fast decision-making on the lower levels.

Admiral Bauer stressed that NATO has a shared interest in working for a more stable and prosperous African continent. African voices, African leadership and African insight are critical to understand how to tackle the current security environment. The diversity of your backgrounds enriches our dialogue, fostering innovative solutions and approaches to common threats.”

This year marked the first time the United States has co-hosted the African Chiefs of Defence Conference with an African nation and the first time the conference took place in Africa.