USARAF CG meets diplomats in Milan; Discusses Africa mission

VICENZA, Italy – U.S. Army Africa commanding general, Maj. Gen. Joseph P. Harrington met with consulate generals from various African and European countries based in Italy Nov. 30, 2016 to discuss the role of USARAF on the African Continent and the continued friendship with Italy.



By Sgt. 1st Class Chris Bridson U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs Office Jan 25, 2017
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VICENZA, Italy – U.S. Army Africa commanding general, Maj. Gen. Joseph P. Harrington met with consulate generals from various African and European countries based in Italy Nov. 30, 2016 to discuss the role of USARAF on the African Continent and the continued friendship with Italy.

The meeting, hosted by U.S. Consul General Milan Philip Reeker, was designed to give a better insight of USARAF missions to key African partners and European allies.

“We planned this meeting to be informal and give us a chance to learn what U.S. Army Africa does,” said Reeker. “It’s an open opportunity to learn something about the kind of work we do in the political-military arena. Which for many of us who are focused on the economic and commercial activities here in Milan, is a nice change of pace and reminds us that all these things are interconnected in terms of promoting stability and prosperity for everybody.”

Consulate representatives from Morocco, Turkey, Senegal, Germany, Algeria, and the Netherlands were in attendance as well as the Italian ministry of foreign affairs and a representative from the U.S. Embassy Rome.

Harrington discussed the various ways that USARAF works together with African partner nations to continually increase cohesion and build strong partnerships across the African continent.

“In this room, we all have the same common interests,” said Harrington. “We all want to see a stable, secure and prosperous Africa and building relationships is a big part of that.”

The US Army has approximately 4,000 Soldiers that work here in Italy and those from the USARAF Headquarters continuously travel to the African continent training and mentoring each other as they build lasting partnerships.

“If you look at the future, Africa is incredibly important,” said Harrington. “And what we can do there now to help governance, institutions, to help mitigate problems and work with security structures is absolutely critical.”

During his presentation, Harrington discussed the many programs USARAF is involved in on the continent such as peacekeeping training exercises, humanitarian aid missions, medical training and civil affairs missions like building schools. All of which help contribute to the overall growth, stability and security throughout Africa.

“This continent over the last 5 years has had the fastest growing GDP for any continent in the world,” Harrington said. “Malaria and HIV levels are down, incomes and education are way up. So, you have this wonderful picture of promise that is coming true.”

“During medical training exercises, U.S. military doctors, nurses and technicians travel to different locations and work alongside their African partners and share experiences using local techniques and procedures,” said Harrington, “Practices that are no longer common in the U.S. because of advances in technology and those doctors come back infinitely better trained.”

Among Harrington’s team that travelled to Milan was the USARAF Political Advisor, Robin Smith, who has been working within the U.S. State Department for the past 30 years and has a vast experience on the continent of Africa.

Smith said that meetings like this with partners from African consulates and the various European consulates in Milan are very important because they are representing their countries and bring a lot to the table.

“There is a perspective that they have on Africa that is a value to us as a command,” said Smith. “We talk about the whole government approach, but maybe in the same breath we should be saying a whole international approach as well, because it takes everyone’s contributions to bring about peace and security.”

Meetings such as this provide the USARAF command team with insights in to what is happening on the African continent and provides a better understanding of country needs from our African and European partner’s point of view.

With Maj. Gen. Harrington taking command of USARAF just 6 months ago, and so many countries on the African continent, the USARAF command team looks forward to other opportunities to meet with representatives in this capacity in the future.

“Meetings like this are a definite value and benefit to us because some of the points that were brought up for discussion today, may not have crossed our minds without a gathering such as this.” said Smith. “And we look forward to possibly doing more in the future.

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