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Ambassador Robert Scott : “Democratic consolidation is a multi-generational process”

17 mai 2024, 22:00


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Ambassador Robert Scott : “Democratic consolidation is a multi-generational process”

Ambassador Robert Scott, commander for Civil-Military Engagement, United States Africa Command.

• “Diego Garcia serves as a strategic platform for the United States and its allies to help safeguard maritime routes that are vital for international trade”

• “(...) specifics on Agalega are outside the purview of the U.S. Government”

Considering the recent increase in coups and the growing politicization of militaries in Africa, what are the primary challenges in enhancing military professionalism on the continent?

A challenge we see in some of the countries on the continent is determining the best way to address the economic, security, and civil challenges, while also working to strengthen one’s military to address challenges from violent extremist organizations. This is why we work with our interagency partners on a “3-D approach” that focuses on development and diplomacy alongside defense, building governmental capacity that support their civil sector while also supporting the development of a professional military.

Promoting professional military education (PME) is seen as a key approach to improving military professionalism in Africa. PMEs aim to foster democratic civil-military relations, a commitment to citizen security, strategic visioning, and a service ethos among officers. Could you elaborate on the potential pathways and challenges in advancing PME effectiveness?

The U.S. military focuses on enhancing leadership throughout its ranks – including enlisted development – to really strengthen the core of being a professional military with a focus on civilian-led commitment to service, and an emphasis on the role of maintaining the security of the country and its civilians. Sharing how a developed and educated non-commissioned officer corps helps create that “back-bone” to a military helps our partners realize the importance of sharing that education and development among its entire military. But if the people who comprise a military are coming from an insecure background, perhaps they are concerned about their families, and their country’s security. There must be, at the same time, a focus on strengthening government institutions and supporting the civilian infrastructure of a country, so the military can appropriately focus its mission on the country’s external borders.

With approximately three-quarters of African countries possessing a military academy, and half having a Command and Staff College, coups are nevertheless escalating across the continent. What factors contribute to this trend despite the presence of these educational institutions?

Democratic consolidation is a multi-generational process. Global threats such as violent extremism, climate change, rising energy prices, and international conflicts have a disproportionate impact on the least developed countries. When governments are able to address the stability, safety, and security challenges their citizens face, they create a more stable country overall.

Mauritius does not maintain a standing army, yet there is a significant US military presence at Diego Garcia, near Mauritius. How do you view the necessity of this base for Mauritius, and what are the approaches to addressing the diplomatic tensions between London and Port-Louis regarding this issue?

Diego Garcia plays a crucial role in maintaining regional and global security, which is recognized by Mauritius’ senior political leadership who have emphasized the need for its continued operation. It serves as a strategic platform for the United States and its allies to help safeguard maritime routes that are vital for international trade. This is particularly important in regions like the Red Sea, where 15% of the world’s shipping traffic is threatened by hostile activities, impacting the delivery of essential goods like food and medicine.

Regarding the second part of your question, the United States, which is not party to ongoing talks, continues to support negotiations between the United Kingdom and Mauritius and issue of sovereignty of the Chagos archipelago.

We might be having a second military base in Agalega, this time under Indian military control. What are the implications and potential benefits of having this base for Mauritius?

While we have seen the public reports about the facility inaugurated in Agalega, specifics on this matter are outside the purview of the U.S. Government. This issue pertains closely to operations and agreements that primarily involve the government of Mauritius and the Indian authorities.

Bio Express

Ambassador Robert Scott assumed the duties as the Deputy to the Commander for Civil-Military Engagement, United States Africa Command, in July 2023. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor, he previously served as the Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of Malawi from 2019-21. Other assignments include Deputy Assistant Secretary covering Southern Africa and Peace and Security Affairs 2021- 2023, Deputy Chief of Mission in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, and Deputy Office Director for West African Affairs. Ambassador Scott’s other overseas tours include Ukraine, Germany, France, Ghana, as well as domestic assignments focusing on climate change and European security issues. He joined the Foreign Service in 1994. He received a B.A. in History from Lawrence University and has an M.A. in International Relations from American University.