By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON – Many of the focus areas outlined in the nation’s defensive strategic guidance, released in January, go beyond Asia-Pacific and pertain to the Horn of Africa, a senior defense official said today.
Speaking during the European Union’s Common Security and Defense Policy Conference here, Amanda J. Dory, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Africa policy, looked at specific areas of the strategy that address the Horn of Africa.
“As many of you are aware, the new defense strategic guidance came out in January,” Dory said. “It was in response to the view by the president and the [Defense] Department’s senior leadership that we were at a strategic inflection point.
“The guidance looked at the strategic environment and identified a number of factors,” she said. “The one that you read in headlines was ‘pivot to Asia.’ It did not say pivot to Asia, but it did make it very clear that we have increasing interests in the Asia-Pacific theater and the need to attend to those.
Dory explained the strategic guidance begins to point to the Horn of Africa by making very clear a “focus on al-Qaida and affiliates remains very prominent in the future of the security environment.”
Dory explained that al-Qaida affiliates are found in the Horn of Africa, forming an intersection with Pakistan and Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, and other parts of the African continent where the terrorist group may be found. She said terrorism is chiefly where the strategic guidance and the Horn of Africa intersect.
“So clearly that remains a focus strategic for us, and the document talks about how we have a multi-faceted response to that,” she said.
“This includes active monitoring of terrorist organizations of concern, includes working with the comprehensive approach, if you will, or the three ‘D’s’ –- the defense, the diplomacy, the development –- to attend to under-governed and ungoverned areas,” Dory said. “And then, also, taking direct action, in the form of strikes, when warranted.”
Dory pointed to another example where the guidance addresses the increasing important of the Indian Ocean.
“Of course, when you’re in the Horn of Africa, and looking to the West, that’s the body of water that you’re talking about there,” she noted.
“All the sea lines of communication, tremendous volume of international commerce, all of the oil resources flowing through there and other energy resources – [a] tremendous amount of trade,” Dory said.
“So the focus on the Indian Ocean, as a critical ocean looking forward to the future, is part of identifying why the Horn of Africa retains a strategic significance and prominence for the United States,” she added.
She also touched on the missions listed in the strategic guidance and said “many of these manifest in the Horn of Africa as well.” Examples include counterterrorism and irregular warfare through security force assistance and through direct action, something “very prominent when we look at the Horn of Africa.”
Dory also spoke about preventing piracy in the region, helping increase stability and building partnership capacity. After explaining her thoughts to the crowd, Dory re-emphasized her point that the Horn of Africa region is definitely tied to the country’s strategic guidance.
“In talking about Africa, the strategic guidance talks about the continuing importance of building partner capacity and using the innovative, low-cost, limited footprint approaches that really have been the hallmark of U.S. approach to Africa for some time,” she said.