Working group harnesses Information Operations in Africa

STUTTGART-VAIHINGEN, Germany — About 30 international experts in military information operations gathered at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany, March 10-11 to discuss cooperative security strategies for militaries in Africa.

U.S. European Command sponsored the multinational Information Operations African Working Group. EUCOM overseas theater security cooperation activities in most of Africa. Representatives from France, Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom, NATO, European Union, African Union and United States participated.

The forum is an extension of the Africa Clearing House. A EUCOM initiative, the Africa Clearing House invites partner nations to share information about security assistance programs in order to collaborate, improve use of resources and avoid duplication of effort. Similar programs coordinate efforts in the South Caucasus region and Southeast Europe, said Army Lt. Col. Austin Branch, who leads EUCOM's Information Operations Division.

"The objective of this working group is to bring together nations with a stake in what happens in Africa to identify common goals, share their historical expertise and unique capabilities," Branch said. "This is an effort to use military information operations in a preventive way to assist African nations to address problems like poverty, the spread of AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and counter extremism and terrorist recruitment in ungoverned areas."

EUCOM employs a number of information operations capabilities in support of theater engagement, the Global War on Terror and military support to State Department public diplomacy, Branch said. Activities range from efforts to countering extremism and terrorist recruitment to building support for strong government institutions and the rule of law.

The first working group of this kind took place at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in October 2004.

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