Defense leaders from dozens of African nations met this week as part of the 2024 African Chiefs of Defense Conference in Gaborone, Botswana, to address some of the challenges and opportunities on the continent, with the goal of enhancing regional security.

Marine Corps Gen. Michael Langley, commander, U.S. Africa Command, discussed the highlights from the conference with the media today, which he said was informative and productive. 

Themes of the conference were sharing ideas to bolster stability, security, human rights and prosperity among the 53 nations in Africom’s area of responsibility, he said, adding that discussions included challenges in deterring threats and building for crises response. 

Threats to deter include terror organizations like ISIS, Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram, which thrive in areas of instability, he said.

The solution, Langley said, is to engage with each nation, identify their needs and come to an enduring solution with a whole-of-government approach to include U.S. agencies, regional governments and civil society — not just the Defense Department. 

The general also discussed the negative influence of misinformation campaigns by Russia on the continent. “Getting the truth out there to counter disinformation is essential. According to the African Center of Strategic Studies, disinformation campaigns have directly driven deadly violence, promoted and validated military coups and cowed civil society members into silence and served as a smokescreen for corruption and exploitation.”

As such, discussions included putting effective information campaigns in place to counter misinformation and disinformation campaigns, he said. 

In conclusion, Langley said the conference provided a wealth of valuable information and lessons learned that can be built upon during next year’s conference. 

This is the first year the U.S. co-hosted the conference with an African nation. It was also the first time the conference took place in Africa.

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