U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at the Bilateral Defense Committee Meeting
Washington D.C, USA
December 4, 2019
(As prepared for delivery)
His Excellency Lemma Megerssa, Minister of Defense;
General Adem Mohammed, Chief of General Staff of the Ethiopian National Defense Force;
His Excellency Fitsum Arega, Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the United States;
The Honorable Pete Marocco, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs;
Brigadier General Zana, Deputy Director for Political-Military Affairs Africa – Joint Staff;
Brigadier General DeMilliano, Deputy Director, Strategy, Engagement, and Programs, U.S. Africa Command;
Good morning, and thanks very much for the honor of joining all of you here today.
I’m very grateful to our distinguished guests from the Ethiopian government and the Ethiopian National Defense Force for travelling to the United States for this important event; for the close partnership that exists between us; and for your commitment to taking our collaboration even farther in the days ahead.
I’m extremely grateful as well to the leadership and staffs of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, and the U.S. Africa Command, both for generously hosting this event and for the good will, commitment, and expertise you bring to the essential military partnership between the United States and Ethiopia.
A little over a year ago, we gathered in Addis Ababa at last year’s Bilateral Defense Committee meeting to discuss a full agenda of issues.
We recognized the groundbreaking actions of Ethiopia’s political leadership in promoting harmony and prosperity in the Horn of Africa.
We discussed Ethiopia’s leadership role in global peacekeeping and its commitment to preventing the spread of violent extremism in the Horn of Africa.
We highlighted the significant efforts and resources expended by Ethiopia through AMISOM and other peacekeeping missions to bring about an integrated and peaceful region.
And we applauded Ethiopia’s role as an essential linchpin of security and peace not only in the region but beyond, both diplomatically and militarily.
But most of all, we committed to building a new and fundamentally deeper and stronger security relationship between our countries – a relationship based on shared respect, trust, and strategic interests.
While it was understood that this would be a sustained effort going forward, I’m encouraged that, just one short year later, much has already been accomplished.
Cooperation activities between the ENDF and the U.S. military quadrupled over the past year, with training and equipment support strategically focused on building capabilities and collaboration, and on further strengthening the ENDF’s ability to export security – and therefore peace and opportunity – to the region.
Justified Accord 19, which Ethiopia hosted earlier this year, was the largest training engagement between the United States and Ethiopia in 30 years.
It involved over 1,000 military and government personnel from the United States, Ethiopia, and other troop-contributing nations, and it enhanced the capacity and capability of participating forces to conduct operations in support of AMISOM.
More fundamentally, it strengthened our bilateral military partnership.
Since last year, over 300 ENDF officers and non-commissioned officers travelled to the United States to participate in professional educational opportunities, including the U.S. Army and Air War Colleges, the Command and General Staff College, and other military seminars and exchange programs.
Our two teams also focused extensively on developing the intelligence enterprise, through exchanges of information and extensive training with the Directorate of Military Intelligence.
Additionally, the U.S. military provided logistics, intelligence, and peacekeeping advisors to further support ENDF institutions.
To enhance the ENDF’s ability to self-deploy in support of peacekeeping operations, the United States is partnering with the Ethiopian Air Force to unlock the full potential of its C-130 and L100 fleet.
We’ve also initiated AMISOM rotator flights for troops and personnel deployment and redeployment into different regions in Somalia.
This mobilization of resources is made possible by unprecedented reform efforts that continue to transform Ethiopia’s political, economic, and security landscape.
Equally important, the expansion of our relationship is being made possible by Ethiopia’s willingness to embark on a bold new partnership with the United States.
We remain grateful for this deep, warm, and potential-filled new collaboration, and we’re ready to take even greater advantage of the opportunities it presents in the days ahead.
At the strategic level, we look forward to co-hosting with the ENDF the African Land Forces Summit in February.
This event will bring over 50 African land forces chiefs to Ethiopia for discussions on leadership – an enduring and vital component of any professional army.
At the same time, the summit will serve to highlight Ethiopia’s unique military leadership role and standing in Africa.
The United States will also support the progress of Ethiopia’s defense sector by establishing links between the ENDF Research and Development Center and the U.S. Training and Doctrine Command.
And we’ll jointly conduct workshops and seminars toward developing a new National Security Strategy for Ethiopia.
At the institutional level, and with an eye to expanding the ENDF’s professional capacity, the United States is committed to helping develop a world-class faculty for the new Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Defense War College in partnership with the U.S. Army War College.
We’re also supporting the establishment of a mid-grade officer course that will further strengthen the professionalism of the officer corps.
At the operations level, we look forward to working with the ENDF to expand its ability to conduct effective ground and air operations in support of regional stability, enabling Ethiopia to contribute even more effectively to peacekeeping and counter-terrorism missions.
And we’ll work to enhance the intelligence capability of the ENDF to better deter threats to its forces and to our two nations’ security interests.
These are only a few examples of the United States’ firm resolve to work in partnership with Ethiopia.
We believe the remarkable transformation underway in Ethiopia will continue to create even more opportunities to support each other in the pursuit of our common strategic goals, while making both of our countries safer.
At last year’s Bilateral Defense Committee meeting, and as the Deputy Assistant Secretary just noted, we discussed how our shared values form the foundation of our new relationship.
We spoke of a common dedication to transparency, professionalism, and defending the rights and security of our citizens.
And we highlighted the virtues that are central to both our militaries: commitment to civilian leadership, sense of duty to country, and putting the welfare of the country before narrower interests.
Soldiers have no higher duty than these, and their leadership – both civilian and military – has no higher duty than to support them.
Our shared commitment to these core values has been abundantly clear over the past year, and remains the bedrock of our partnership in the days ahead.
In my role, representing the United States to Ethiopia – an extraordinary and deeply consequential country at the most momentous time in its rich history – I’m extremely proud and grateful to partner with all of you as we strengthen our bonds of friendship and duty.
Thank you all for bringing your good will and expertise to this meeting today, and for your commitment to taking our relationship to the next level in the days ahead.