DAKAR, Senegal (Nov. 8, 2007) – Electrician’s Mate 1st Class James Lamberson congratulates Senegalese Sailors, aboard the Amphibious Dock Landing Ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), after their completion of training from Expeditionary Training Command and Africa Partnership Station (APS). APS aims to bring international training teams to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe, and will support more than 20 humanitarian assistance projects in addition to hosting information exchanges and training with partner nations during its seven-month deployment. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class RJ Stratchko ( 071108-N-8933S-060 RELEASED)
DAKAR, Senegal (Nov. 7, 2007) – Senegalese sailors receive hands-on training from Electrician’s Mate 1st Class James Lamberson while Lt. Cmdr Fru Fon Clement, a Cameroon naval officer embarked with the Africa Partnership Station (APS) international staff, translates during basic approach drills. APS aims to bring international training teams to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe, and will support more than 20 humanitarian assistance projects in addition to hosting information exchanges and training with partner nations aboard amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class R.J. Stratchko (071107-N-8933S-125 RELEASED)

Both pictures are from the US Navy story on training the Senegalese Navy. From the story:

“In three days you learn a lot, but it isn’t very much time. The next time I hope to train for one week, two weeks, or a month. It’s good for my Army,” said Senegalese Marine Staff Sergeant, Fode Camara.

The Senegalese Sailors and Marines learned about preventative maintenance, combat lifesaving, self defense and small boat maintenance and handling.

“I’m very happy to train with United States Navy. I am very happy to do it, and I want to do more,” said Camara. “Everything we learn is new. Now, when I return to my Army, I want to teach a young boy these new techniques.”

For more news from USS Fort McHenry, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lsd43/.

Juliana Taiwo, who has done some excellent reporting on AFRICOM for ThisDay in Nigeria, reports that:

Chief of Defence Staff, General Andrew Azazi, has said despite Liberian government’s clamour to host AFRICOM, ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff (CDS) would have the final say.

The President and Vice President of Liberia both reiterated their support of AFRICOM.

Azazi said though Liberia is a sovereign country, AFRICOM was a bit more technical to be treated as politics.

“The President addressed it when she met with us and the Vice President said ECOWAS should support Liberia, but what we feel is that nobody at the political level in African Union or ECOWAS knows enough about AFRICOM to make categorical statements. We are advocating that is not an issue for Chiefs of Defence Staff solely, we are advocating that at the political level, there should be either bilateral or multilateral interactions to create awareness to convince African leaders that AFRICOM will be good for Africa. What it means is that Africa must be willing to accept AFRICOM before it is sited. So if Liberia already is thinking of hosting AFRICOM, maybe they have a better understanding than the rest of them, but like the President told us, there are two things, we (the ECOWAS CDS) are going to discuss AFRICOM if our advise is that it is not good for the continent it will be rejected and if it is good, it will be accepted. Otherwise, the general understanding is that AFRICOM is suppose to be good for capacity building, but what we are saying is that we should have a better understanding of all that is going to come about, let’s create awareness, let’s be a partnership that will help both sides,” he said.

Defence sources in Nigeria had in September, disclosed that the Nigerian government was already making serious diplomatic inquiries into the US government’s establishment of a military base for Africa in Stuttgart.

This sounds like the ECOWAS Chiefs of Defense Staff are trying to act together and in accord, and that they are not interested in letting one country break ranks. As I understand this, if West Africa were to host AFRICOM, there has to be more information forthcoming from the US, and agreement between West African governments that it works to their advantage. I wonder if this solidarity will hold. And I wonder how this advantage, or lack of it, will be measured. I wish the CDS success in this endeavor. I don’t see how the US can provide information that will genuinely answer the CDS questions. The US has been telling Africans that AFRICOM is not all the things the US media tells the US public that it is.