U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at the 8th Bilateral Defense Conference between the U.S. and Ethiopia
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
November 15, 2018
(As prepared for delivery)
Her Excellency Minister Aisha Mohammed, Minister of Defense;
General Birhanu Jula, Deputy Chief of Staff;
Ms. Michelle Lenihan, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs;
Major General Christopher Craige, Director of Strategy, Engagement, and Programs for the United Stated Africa Command;
Major General Curtis Williams, Deputy Director for Political-Military Affairs Africa – Joint Staff;
Brigadier General William Zana, Deputy Commanding Officer, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa;
Mr. Irv Hicks, Policy Advisor, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa;
Friends and colleagues.
Please allow me to start by offering my sincerest thanks to our partners in the Ethiopian Government and National Defense Forces, not only for hosting us here today, but for your commitment to our cooperation in the name of shared security.
I’d also like to sincerely thank the U.S. delegation for joining this event and for prioritizing this important relationship.
Your presence here, in such numbers and at such senior levels, is a testament to the significance all of us attach to this essential dialogue.
The United States greatly appreciates our robust partnership with Ethiopia on security issues over the years.
We’re particularly grateful for Ethiopia’s continued leadership role as the world’s largest contributor to global peacekeeping forces, and for Ethiopia’s steadfast commitment to preventing the spread of violent extremism in the Horn of Africa.
Ethiopia plays an essential role in regional security.
This role is not only military; Ethiopia’s political leadership in facilitating the regional rapprochement with Eritrea, for example, and its revitalized outreach to other countries in the region including Djibouti and Somalia, are equally important.
Thanks to such efforts, the goal of an integrated and peaceful Horn of Africa is something we can now envision, not in the distant future, but in our lifetimes.
For that to happen, Ethiopia’s continued constructive engagement, both diplomatically and in terms of security cooperation, will remain essential.
And Ethiopia must have the international support it needs to play these roles as effectively as possible.
Even as we remain grateful for our partnership to date, we feel there is room to deepen and strengthen this partnership in the days ahead, and that the reform agenda of the Ethiopian Government offers us greater scope than ever before to increase the engagement between our countries.
The United States strongly supports Ethiopia’s reform agenda, and we believe that the changes Ethiopia is undertaking will strengthen not only this country’s prosperity, governance, and stability, but the U.S.-Ethiopia partnership as well.
We hope that this will include building stronger partner capacity through equipping and advanced military education and training opportunities.
We’re very encouraged by the spirit of openness and collaboration that has distinguished the conversations we’ve had in recent months with our Ethiopian defense and military counterparts, including with many of the esteemed Ethiopian colleagues who are in this room today.
We’re equally heartened to hear that strengthening the defense and military partnership between the United States and Ethiopia is a goal we all share.
As Ethiopia pursues its program of inspiring and ambitious reforms in the days ahead, I would like to offer the United States’ steadfast commitment of support – not only through capacity-building and professional development, but by building upon the strength of our shared values as well.
In the United States, the values that underpin our military are loyalty to our Constitution; the importance of civilian leadership; a sense of duty to our country; and putting the welfare of the country before oneself.
These ideals are ingrained in the way we talk about the dedicated, brave, and loyal women and men who serve our country both at home and abroad.
And these values form the basis of the relationship of trust that persists between the American people and our armed services.
Likewise, our strongest international defense partnerships are also based on these shared values.
The ENDF has demonstrated its commitment to upholding these same values, including through its successful peacekeeping missions around the world.
And we welcome the ENDF’s increased participation in AFRICOM and regional exercises, which offer additional chances to strengthen our cooperation though better and greater interoperability between our militaries.
As Ethiopia continues to pursue its ambitious reforms, in both civilian and military structures, I’m confident that we’ll find even more opportunities to expand our partnership.
Thank you again for your commitment to this partnership, today and in the days ahead.