In a significant announcement made at the 2023 Africa Senior Enlisted Leaders Conference (2023 ASEL), the United States has pledged to provide Zambia with approximately $80 million worth of advanced military equipment.
The announcement was made by US Marine Corps General Michael Langley, the Commander of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), during the inaugural day of the conference, which took place from September 10th to 13th.
This historic event marked the first time the ASEL Conference was held on the African continent, underlining the United States’ commitment to strengthening its partnerships with African nations.
During his address, General Langley emphasized the importance of this aid package, stating, “The United States Government will be providing four new high-performance Bell helicopters to the Zambian Defence Force. These helicopters will enable Zambia to continue to support UN peacekeeping missions throughout Africa and strengthen Zambia’s commitment to regional security.”
General Langley highlighted the theme of the conference, “Empower, Delegate, Trust,” emphasizing the role of empowered non-commissioned officers (NCOs) as the backbone of any military. He shared personal insights, recounting how he learned from his father, a senior enlisted leader in the US Air Force, and from the NCOs he had the privilege of working with throughout his career.
The 2023 ASEL Conference served as a platform for open dialogue between US and African defense leaders. Discussions focused on the challenges faced by both parties and explored opportunities for cooperation.
AFRICOM Command Senior Enlisted Leader Sergeant Major Michael Woods, who accompanied General Langley, highlighted the wide range of topics covered during the conference, including crisis response, the rule of law, natural resource protection, and strategies to mitigate factors contributing to instability in the region.
More than 125 defense leaders from 27 African countries participated in this military-to-military engagement, showcasing the growing engagement between AFRICOM and African nations. The AFRICOM Public Affairs Office placed special emphasis on countries such as Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, and Senegal.
Sergeant Major Woods noted the conference’s focus on small group discussions, allowing for in-depth conversations about effective leadership strategies. General Langley also called for transparency and responsiveness to partner countries’ needs, highlighting that 27 African partners participated, representing 50 percent of the 53 countries within AFRICOM’s area of operations.
Summarizing AFRICOM’s achievements, General Langley underscored the importance of strategic partnerships and capacity building. He mentioned activities such as joint exercises, combined exchange training, and security force assistance as key components of their collaborative efforts.
The 2023 ASEL Conference fostered deeper conversations about ethical leadership, mentoring, and delegation strategies, all aimed at nurturing better military leaders. Mr. Woods also highlighted the long-standing relationships forged through the US State Partnership Program, which pairs US states with African nations for military development and skills enhancement.
In conclusion, this substantial donation of military equipment to Zambia demonstrates the United States’ commitment to enhancing regional security and promoting peacekeeping efforts across Africa. The 2023 ASEL Conference served as a testament to the growing cooperation between the US and African nations in addressing common challenges and advancing shared values.