08 October 1997


(Steven Metz testifies before House Afr. Subc.) (890)

By Jim Fisher-Thompson

USIA Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The all-African peacekeeping initiative now being
implemented by three African nations is a "solid first step" in the
much-need transformation of sub-Saharan Africa's regional security
system, says Steven Metz professor of military studies at the
Strategic Institute.

In testimony before the House of Representatives Africa Subcommittee
about the initiative, October 8, Metz said "while African themselves
will determine whether or how to transform their regional security
systems, outsiders, including the United States, can help."

Central to that effort, he told the lawmakers in his prepared remarks,
is the African Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI), which was proposed
by former Secretary of State Warren Christopher during a trip to
Africa last October. That idea actually "had its genesis," Metz added,
"with Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen in
the early 1990's."

The Clinton administration allotted $15 million toward the project's
startup costs during 1997. Some select African units already are being
instructed by U.S. trainers.

Metz was joined at the hearing by David Davis a professor and senior
fellow at the program on peacekeeping policy at George Mason
University's Institute of Public Policy, as well as by representatives
from the Departments of State and Defense.

Acknowledging Congress's concern for spending during a period of
budget stringency, Metz recommended ACRI as an appropriate and
cost-effective way for the United States to become a peacekeeping
partner with Africans. He said "to promote American interests in
Africa, the United States should use ACRI as a first step in a
long-term program to encourage and assist in the transformation of the
African security system into one where violence is less common and
where most violence that does occur can be dealt with without massive
outside involvement."

Ambassador Marshall McCallie, who heads up the ACRI Interagency
Working Group for the State Department, told the subcommittee that the
goal of the ACRI "is to enhance the capacity of African nations to
respond to humanitarian crises and peacekeeping challenges in a timely
and effective manner."

The official added that select African units in Senegal, Uganda and
Malawi have been the first to undergo training in peacekeeping
techniques by U.S. military trainers, and that "in the months ahead,
we plan to begin training in Ethiopia, Mali and Ghana."

Metz pointed out that "overall, the existing version of ACRI, which is
limited to a military-to-military training program, has utility" in a
number of areas including by:

-- imparting "tangible skills" to those African soldiers and officers
who undergo the training;

-- making it easier for African leaders to put together an African
peacekeeping effort "at short notice;"

-- having a positive impact on civil-military relations in the host
countries "since much of the training concerns appropriate ways for
those in uniform to deal with civilians;" and

-- contributing to regional integration because the African nations
working together on the ACRI "will begin to create habits of
cooperation" in their relations with each other.

Congress's role in the conflict resolution partnership, Metz
suggested, should be "to sustain support for ACRI." He added that
"regular funding at a relatively modest level would be far superior to
providing a large amount one year and then cutting it back the next."

Metz also recommended that Congress "consider ending prohibitions on
the use of American security assistance money to train police and
consider providing such funds. Few African police forces are
adequately trained, equipped and supplied for peacekeeping."

According to Metz, "if the objective is to free Africa from dependence
on extensive outside involvement in peace operations, the United
States, along with its friends and allies throughout the developed
world, should help build police forces with specific training in

Professor David Davis, an expert on conflict resolution, told the
subcommittee that "I support the ACRI as an attempt to provide Africa
with the long-term capacity that is needed for the furtherance of
peace" on the African continent.

He said "I believe that the ACRI is teaching the correct tasks to the
militaries involved" and is on the right peacekeeping track by
emphasizing: "fire [arms] discipline, marksmanship and human rights

Davis added that ACRI's "concentration on independent capacity
building and not force building is appropriate [because] some of these
nations would be very wary of a new force in the 'country next door'."

A statement submitted to the Africa Subcommittee by Deputy Assistant
Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Vince Kern addressed that
concern, pointing out that the U.S. government does not "intend to
create a standing African force and we are not providing training to
create elite forces for instability."

Instead, the official explained that "the ACRI concept envisions a
U.S. partnership with African and non-African countries to build and
improve African crisis response capabilities."

He added that U.S. military trainers were concentrating on teaching
such peacekeeping techniques as: "establishment of checkpoints,
perimeter security, convoy security and the processing of displaced

The Defense Department, he said, also is providing "non-lethal"
equipment to the African units, including: communications gear, water
purification units, night vision binoculars, and mine detectors as
well as uniforms, boots, belts, packs and entrenching tools.