Defense leaders from dozens of African nations will meet beginning tomorrow as part of the 2024 Africa Chiefs of Defense Conference in Botswana.

The United States and Botswana will co-host the conference in the capital city Gaborone during the last week of June. The event brings together military leaders from across Africa to exchange knowledge, encourage partnerships and foster collaboration toward addressing shared security and stability challenges. 

“[In] every country, there are layered threats … especially across the Sahel,” said Marine Corps Gen. Michael Langley, commander of U.S. Africa Command. “Every country has their different type challenges [and] drivers of instability. That’s … what’s going to be tabled for discussions.”

The U.S., Langley said, is known among African nations as an “enabler” that can be depended on to help partners achieve their own security goals — not just by working through the military services, but with other U.S. government agencies, as well. 

“What we bring to the picture, that enduring solution, is a whole-of-government approach,” Langley said. “We are a ‘3D’ organization of diplomacy, defense and development. That’s why in our headquarters we have [U.S. Agency for International Development], we have representatives of State Department, and we have the greater piece of the interagency. We know that that’s the solution set for enduring-type solutions to all the levels of threats or layered threats that are resident here on the African continent.” 

African nations in the west, north and across the Sahel have approached the U.S. for discussions on how to achieve their own security goals, Langley said, because they know the “intrinsic value” the U.S. brings. One such nation, he said, is Libya. 

“We’re working through diplomatic means and also defense means with Libya,” he said. “We’ll have representation at this conference from both sides of the Libyan country. So, I say that [Libyan National Army] and [Government of National Unity] will be there. I met these representatives last year, and they know their clear end state; they want to get there, and they are asking America to engage with them so they can achieve those ends.” 

This is the first year the U.S. has co-hosted the conference with an African nation. It is also the first time the conference will take place in Africa. 

At the same time the conference is underway, Langley said, the U.S. is on track to complete the orderly withdrawal from Niger it agreed to with Niger’s government. 

“We are on pace and on plan,” he said. “There’s a joint statement out between the U.S. government and Niger on us being able to complete the movement of equipment and personnel by 15 September.” 

The general said the U.S. is on target to get equipment and personnel out of Air Base 101, which is near the capital city of Niamey. It will conclude with the withdrawal from Air Base 201, in Agadez. 

“Heavy equipment, rolling stock, is always the biggest thing that we’re getting out of there,” he said. “I’d say that we’re right on pace, if not ahead of the pace.”

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