Advancing Military Professionalism in Africa
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV FORT MCNAIR DC AFRICA CENTER FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES
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Vivid examples of weak military professionalism in Africa are regularly evident in news accounts of instability on the continent. Militaries collapsing in the face of attacks by irregular forces, coups, mutinies, looting, human rights abuses against civilian populations, corruption, and engagement in illicit trafficking activities are widespread. This pattern persists decades after the end of colonialism, despite billions of dollars of security sector assistance and longstanding rhetoric on the need to strengthen civil-military relations on the continent. The costs for not having established strong professional militaries are high persistent instability, chronic poverty, deterred investment, and stunted democratization. The reasons for the ongoing inability to establish effective, respected militaries in so many African countries are complex but largely stem from political incentives. African militaries created in the colonial era were intended to protect the government from rather than for citizens. To do this, ethnic minorities were often disproportionately recruited into the militaries as a check on majority groups. These patterns persisted in the post-colonial period as military leaders from minority groups had strong incentives to resist a transition to democracy and majority rule. Lacking systematic checks and balances, the interweaving of political, military, and economic interests has endured and, in some cases, intensified in the decades since the end of colonialism. Control of the military has been seen as the vehicle to power and wealth in Africa. Corruption has flourished. This has fostered a politicization of the military and ongoing competition and collusion among politicians and security leaders seeking to gain the upper hand.
- Administration and Management
- Military Forces and Organizations