Military News

Friday, January 12, 2018

Africom Develops New Tool to Measure Women’s Progress



By Brenda Law and Cori Fleser U.S. Africa Command

STUTTGART, Germany, Jan. 12, 2018 — U.S. Africa Command has developed a new tool designed to measure progress in advancing women, peace and security as part of its security cooperation effort.

The WPS Security Force Assistance assessment tool establishes criteria to help Africom have a more informed understanding of how an African partner nation implements WPS within its capacity and capability building activities.

The SFA assessment tool is the brainchild of Africom’s gender advisor, Cori Fleser.

“In my role as the gender advisor, I am responsible for providing recommendations to staff at the command for implementing WPS within our security cooperation activities,” said Fleser. “I developed this tool as a method for informing my understanding to provide more tailored recommendations into that annual planning process.”

With the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017 signed into U.S. law in October, Africom looked for new and innovative ways to integrate women, peace and security into one of its core mission areas: security cooperation.

Since 2011, the command has worked to integrate the mandate in its activities with African security forces. Annual training courses sponsored by Africom and conducted for African partners consistently have only male participants. Consequently, Africom saw the need to develop specific training opportunities specifically for women from African militaries. Beyond such skilled areas as communications and intelligence, the command has cohosted workshops and seminars on gender integration, the role of women in peacekeeping operations and responding to gender-based violence.

Despite these successes, integrating women, peace and security into existing military planning, execution, and assessment processes, such as those for security cooperation, has been more of a challenge, which inspired Fleser to develop the SFA assessment tool.

Assessing Women, Peace, Security Implementation

Informed by the Defense Department’s Implementation Guide for Women, Peace and Security, the tool defines women, peace and security-related criteria within DoD’s doctrinally defined security force functions and identifies proxy indicators measured in data sets and global indices that can be used to make an informed assessment of that specific criteria.

The tool leverages open source data sets from international organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank, and World Health Organization, and uses indicators from global indices, such as the Fragile States Index and Women, Peace and Security Index.

The tool provides a rationale for why the command can confidently use those proxy indicators to assess the women, peace, and security criteria in lieu of having access to a more preferred metric. The assessment of these proxy indicators can provide an understanding of cross-sectoral gender dynamics within an African partner nation and its security forces and institutions, allowing for tailored approaches to working on women, peace, and security implementation through security cooperation activities.

A Step in the Right Direction

While there is utility in this new tool, like many analytic tools, Fleser acknowledges that it has its limitations. “It is important to remember that proxy indicators are an indirect measurement,” she cautions, “and they do not give us the full picture of how our partners are implementing the women, peace, and security mandate within their security sectors. They will, however, point us in a direction that is useful to security cooperation planning.”

The WPS criteria established do not represent an exhaustive list of criteria necessary for implementation but allows the command to work together with African partners to identify new criteria for advancing the WPS mandate through security cooperation activities. “Now the command has an initial set of criteria that tells us what WPS looks like within our doctrinally defined security force assistance categories,” Fleser said.

The SFA assessment tool advances the command’s implementation of the WPS mandate in several ways. First, it introduces quantitative data to complement the qualitative data that currently informs the inclusion of WPS pillars in security cooperation planning. Second, it provides security cooperation planners with a defined set of WPA criteria that nest within an annual process they already support, simplifying and clarifying WPS implementation. Third, the tool supports one of the key principles underpinning the mandate by including nontraditional security indicators and using them to inform a uniquely military planning process.

"Although not perfect, the SFA assessment tool is designed to facilitate better security cooperation planning and WPS implementation," Fleser said. "It does not provide a binary good/bad assessment of African partner nations. Rather, it enables the command to better understand how gender influences the security sector using quantitative data to support that analysis and opens the opportunities for working together with our partner nations to advance a mandate critical to achieving our mutual security objectives."

Pence Highlights Service Members’ Excellence, Expertise, Dedication



By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2018 — America depends upon its military members’ excellence, expertise and dedication more than ever, Vice President Mike Pence told airmen at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, yesterday.

Pence, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein visited the base in part to visit the service’s AFwerX office, which is designed to spark and sustain Air Force innovation.

‘World’s Greatest Force for Good’

Pence spoke to airmen outside the Thunderbirds hangar, and gave them President Donald J. Trump’s best regards.

“The armed forces of the United States of America are the world’s greatest force for good,” the vice president told the airmen. “You chose to be a part of that force to follow in the contrails of our nation’s greatest heroes. You chose to do your part, at this time, to leave a legacy of freedom for generations yet to come. And while you come from the rest of us, you are the best of us.”

Nearly all airmen will come to Nellis for training at some point in their Air Force careers. “As we speak, this base is hosting the weapons and tactics conference where our warfighters tackle some of the most pressing problems facing our national security,” Pence said. “This base is laser focused on testing, tactics and training.”

The training, studies and experimentation conducted at Nellis helps to keep the U.S. military “on the cutting edge both strategy and strength,” the vice president said.

Dangerous World

“The truth is the world is more dangerous today than at any point since the fall of communism a quarter century ago,” he said. “Rogue regimes seek to threaten our people and endanger our allies. The menace of radical Islamic terrorism continues to rear its ugly head, and adversaries new and old have risen to challenge American leadership on the world stage.”

In these dangerous times, the country counts on its service members more than ever, Pence said.

The vice president noted that the continuing resolution currently in force runs out Jan. 19 and he called on Congress to pass the fiscal 2018 budget that will fund the government -- including the military -- past that date. The new budget would also allow DoD to push past the caps emplaced by the Budget Control Act of 2011, also known as sequestration.

“The budget sequester placed a tremendous burden on our military for the past five years,” Pence said. “It forced deep cuts in our defense budget and prevented the investments in innovation that we need to expand American strength.”

Human Trafficking Has No Place in DoD, Pentagon Official Says



By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2018 — Combating human trafficking is a responsibility the Defense Department takes very seriously, Anthony M. Kurta, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military personnel policy, said today.

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, he added. “It not only destroys the lives of those victimized, but also destroys countless families and poses a direct threat to the security and well-being of the entire world.”

Kurta spoke at the Pentagon Force Protection Agency’s Human Trafficking Awareness Day seminar in the Pentagon. Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Those who engage in human trafficking exploit the weak and the vulnerable and capitalize on those who patronize the sex-trade industry and those involved in forced labor, Kurta said.

Aggressive Stance in DoD

For those reasons, DoD is committed to continuing its aggressive stance against human trafficking, he said, and will further training its personnel to expand awareness.

“Going forward, the department will continue to partner with the Joint Staff and our combatant commands … to conduct joint training exercises that include trafficking in persons scenarios that help ensure our total force understands their role in preventing, recognizing and reporting trafficking in persons incidents,” he said.

In addition to joint training exercises, DoD will continue to invest in and develop a variety of robust training resources to help educate its total force to combat trafficking in persons, Kurta said.

Such training also will include specialized training for DoD law enforcement and acquisition professionals, in addition to toolkits to assist leaders in developing their specialized training, he added.

R&D Has Critical Role

And while training and awareness are critical to educate the total force, so is research and development, Kurta said, adding that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently received a presidential award for its development of a program that searches the deep web and connects open-source information to identify tracking patterns.

Known as Memex, the program is being leveraged today by U.S. law enforcement and military and intelligence entities to dismantle human trafficking enterprises and bring traffickers to justice, he said.

“Additionally, our Special Operations Command, partnered with the National Association to Protect Children and the U.S.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations to establish the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative Child Rescue Corps,” Kurta said.

Known as HERO, the group trains wounded, ill and injured service members in high-tech forensic and law enforcement skills to assist federal agents in the fight against online child sexual exploitation, he explained. HERO exemplifies the power of public-private partnerships to help combat trafficking in persons, Kurta said.

Kurta quoted from the proclamation declaring January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month: “There is no place in our world to allow modern slavery to persist,” he said. “We will do our part to strive for its total abolition.”