|The White House
President George W. Bush
|Print this document|
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 8, 2004
Peace Support Operations Briefing
Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on Expanding Global Capacity for Peace Support Operations
International Media Center
1:00 P.M. EDT
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Good afternoon. What I want to do before I turn this over to Sea Island is to give a short background statement on why this proposal fits in with the activities of the G8. I think it's clear that there is conflict all over the world, in particular in Africa -- Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burundi, the Congo -- and what has been happening in the past is that they've been devastating for the people in Africa and many of the countries have not been able to resolve the conflicts. They haven't had the capability or the resources to resolve the conflicts, themselves. So they've been turning to the rest of the world.
The African leaders, through the new Partnership for Africa's Development, have indicated to the G8 and to the rest of the world that, for them, this is a very high priority. It's a high priority for them to take control of solving the conflicts, managing the restoration after the conflicts. The G8 took this seriously in Kananaskis and in Evian, and began to put together an Africa action plan that highlighted peace and security, and highlighted the way in which the G8, as a partner, would work with the Africans.
Following from the plan in Kananaskis was a series of meetings in Berlin where the Africans and the G8 members put together a joint plan on peace and security. There have been activities -- the European Union, the United States, the UK, Canada, all of these countries have been involved since that time in further development of the way in which the G8 can work with the Africans. Just in May, the African Union signed a protocol that further outlined their responsibility for peace and security, and at the same time, highlighting the importance of their continuing effort and partnership with the G8 and with the rest of the developed world.
So I wanted to begin this by just outlining the history and to show that this is in recognition of what is extremely important, and that is the Africans, themselves, owning the problem and being concerned about the solution.
So, with that, I will turn it over to my colleague.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. And that's a very good introduction, really, for what it is we're trying to do here, and the operative bit of the language from Kananaskis where the Africa action plan was rolled out, is the very short phrase that kind of animates what we're doing. And what they said at Kananaskis is that the G8 pledged to provide technical and financial assistance, so that by 2010, African countries and regional and subregional organizations are able to engage more effectively to prevent and resolve violent conflict on the continent.
So that's really what this is all about. This is making good on the G8's pledge of two years ago to do that. But it's important to note that this huge support operations initiative is actually, even though it's about Africa in the first instance and will be -- it will look in the early years like an African-centric initiative, it really is global in its ultimate scope, because the idea is to train peacekeepers and equip them and enable them to get to where they're needed all over the world, even though the need is greatest in Africa, as my colleague said. And that's why Africa is where we are, first and foremost, concentrating efforts.
I can talk a little bit about why we need this, but my colleague has already gone into that. Security is a necessary condition for all the reforms and progress that we hope to promote around the world, especially in Africa. It's not for a lack of willingness that African nations and other nations are unable to sometimes deal with the peace support operations that they find themselves charged with. It's because they don't have the training, they don't have the airlift, they don't have the equipment. And that's what this initiative is meant to get at.
So the centerpiece of this initiative will be a pledge by the G8 countries to train a certain number, we hope well in excess of 50,000 peacekeepers around the world, but beginning in Africa, over the next five or six years. And it really is sort of a unique -- it's the first time the G8 has taken on a specific -- a pledge like this, and has said, we are going to train this number of peacekeepers over this time frame, and we're going to seek to equip them, and we're going to seek to help them get to where they want to be.
The initiative, very quickly, has a few components to it. We're pledging that over the next year or so we're going to put together a logistics support arrangement so that we can better coordinate getting peacekeepers to where they need to go from those countries willing to provide them, say, in Africa, from West Africa to another part of Africa where they're perhaps needed. There's going to be a clearinghouse arrangement that will serve as kind of a coordinating mechanism among the G8. And then importantly, Italy, which is cosponsoring this initiative, is offering up a training center -- in Italy, actually. It already exists, which is why we can get it going so quickly -- to help train so-called "heavy police" or gendarmes or carabinieri, these important actors in peace support operations, to fill the gap between policemen and the troops and the tanks.
Very often in a peace support operation, what you need in addition to the cop on the beat and the soldier in the Humvee is a so-called heavy policeman or gendarme who can do crowd control and arrest the high-value prisoners and do border control, and so on and so forth. So Italy is a big part of it.
Let me go ahead and stop there, because I want to go in whatever direction you'd like to take this. But first, let me turn to my colleague to say a word.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. I'll be very brief in my remarks. My colleague has already situated this new initiative in the context of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, so it certainly grows out of the recognition of the need to work hand in hand with African leaders. And my colleague talks about the global nature of the peacekeeping initiative because of the need to work particularly with donor countries, but with our European allies and friends who have been so much a part of working on Africa peace and stability issues.
I would like to say that the initiative also derives very much from President Bush's vision for the world as set out in the National Security Strategy in which he talks about making the world better and safer. And this initiative really is a nexus between both of those.
With the initial focus on Africa, we see a clear need for global peacekeeping capacity-building on the continent. We've worked very closely, for instance, with the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, working in Liberia. This initiative will give us the capability to draw on. It fits in very well with the Africa Union's Peace and Security Council, which has talked about establishing standby forces which this initiative could work to both train, equip and to deploy, and working with the European Union, which has an initiative to build the capability again of the Africa Union.
But as I say, it grows out of the President's vision to make the world safer and better, as stated in his National Security Strategy, and it's a key component of his Africa policy in which that policy all the way stated that there are three primary objectives. One was addressing the HIV-AIDS pandemic, of which the President's $15 billion HIV-AIDS Emergency Plan was the answer to that challenge. The second challenge was to grow Africa's economies, which the Millennium Challenge Account and the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act are the key initiatives to match that challenge. And then, finally, the third challenge being to promote peace and stability across Africa. And we see this peacekeeping initiative as one of a flagship component of our effort to address that third priority of his Africa policy.
And with that, I will also be available for questions.
Q I just wanted to get some details about how you're going to fund this, because it sounds very ambitious. But training 50,000 people over the next five to six years, how much do you think that's going to cost? And do you have any firm pledges for money at the moment? Where do you expect this money is going to come from?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's a great question. And let me just say about this number, 50,000, the number that I think we're going to roll out is going to be well in excess of 50,000. I don't want to name a specific number at this stage. It will be a dramatic number, it will be much more than 50,000 that we're going to seek to train and equip over the next five, six years.
The funding -- in the first instance, we, the United States, are going to seek from the Congress $660 million to spend over the next five years for training and equipping, and we believe that that will probably go a long way toward training and equipping 45,000 to 50,000, maybe even more peacekeepers right there.
There are also ongoing training programs that are being expanded-- the French have the their recomp program in Africa that trains thousands of peacekeepers a year. The British-trained peacekeepers and thousands -- have already trained 4,000 in recent years -- the Kofi Annan Center that already exists in Africa is already a training site. So there's a lot that's going on. The European Union is doing a lot to train peacekeepers. So we have sort of on the books or in prospect just right now, today, the resources to train well in excess of 50,000. And, of course, part of the purpose of rolling out this initiative is to try to spur more activity, more spending, over the next five years.
Q I wonder if you could go a little bit more into your idea, the clearinghouse. Would the clearinghouse be making decisions about where troops are to be deployed, and how would that connect up to U.N. efforts?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The U.N., of course, has done a lot of work on peacekeeping operations and how to mount them and how to deploy peacekeepers. Of course, the United Nations comes into play once there is a U.N. mandate for a peace operation. There are some 14 peacekeeping operations around the world, I think seven or eight in Africa. But there is -- in the very initial stages of a crisis, often before the United Nations has an opportunity to act or pass a mandate, what you have is an immediate need to find peacekeepers, match them up with the airlift, get them trained and get them to the site of the problem.
The idea of the clearinghouse is that we would, at the level of the G8, get experts together on a periodic basis to exchange information about the offers that are out there for airlift and for equipment and what have you, so that we already have it -- if you will, we already have a Rolodex, we already have in the bank offers of support that we can go immediately to, so that every time there's a new peace support operations need, we don't have to reinvent the wheel. We don't have to go out and solicit anew from nations pledges and find out who has got the airlift to get them where they need to go. It's an evolution. It's a way of really getting out ahead on these peace support operations, so that we don't spend days and weeks trying to muster the needed support for them.
Q Who exactly is in charge -- who would be in charge of these peacekeeping troops? Would it be the G8, the U.N., the AU?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This doesn't change any of the current constructs that are out there. I mean, all of this is done -- is being done, obviously, with a view to the strictures that are already out there about how U.N. peacekeeping operations operate. We're doing this -- we've already briefed African leaders -- I think my colleague and others have done some of that -- African emissaries and representatives. This isn't going to change how peacekeeping operations look or how they're run. I mean, it's still the case, obviously, that when a crisis erupts, the nation that's affected or nations in the neighborhood often make requests for peacekeepers. Then a solicitation goes out, Sometimes interested nations outside the region, like the United States, France or others are involved in that process. Sometimes it's the United Nations.
This isn't going to change any of that structure. We're not talking about a new paradigm or how peacekeeping operations are controlled or regulated. We're just talking how we can get the needed peacekeepers with the right training and with the right equipment to the hot spots where they're needed.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'd just like to add to that, this is done on a voluntary basis. And the idea of the initiative is to increase the capability for peace support operations. When we had the crisis in Liberia, for example, there was a lot of lag time that was, or lead time that was required to find out which troops were trained up to a proficient level, where would they get their armored personnel carriers, who was going to do the lift. And so this, hopefully, will allow us to move much more quickly, but the member states that would participate would clearly be done on a voluntary basis, as it is now.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me just add, it's not only on a voluntary basis, but it's in response to a constant request on the part of the Africans, and an honesty on their part, that they don't have the capability. It isn't just a resource question -- they don't have the capability and they want the part of the world that has the capability to share that with them.
Q What happened to ACRI? And with all due respect to the President's vision for Africa, isn't this exactly the same thing, given the emphasis, at least initial emphasis on Africa and crises there?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, the Africa Crisis Response Initiative, ACRI, originally was envisioned as a peacekeeping, primarily Chapter Six training initiative. That initiative, when the Bush administration started, was ramped up and became the Africa Contingency Operations Training Initiative, ACOTA. And ACOTA really gave more capability, beyond Chapter Six, but also it's Chapter Seven capacity for countries to engage in peace operations.
And ACOTA continues to be a centerpiece of this initiative, of the train and equip. So ACRI became ACOTA, and ACOTA is being folded into this initiative.
Q Just so I have this clear, ACOTA is just the U.S. part of the G8 initiative here?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's right, for training and equipping, particularly.
Q If I could just inject a practical situation to this. As you all are having these discussions, a lot of the world is looking at what is happening in Sudan. Has anything come up practically in your discussions so far on that crisis, given that what is looming there is a disaster?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think that it is clear from the briefing of Dr. Rice and what you will hear during the next few days, everyone in the G8 is concerned about Darfur. There have been discussions and actions taken in the Security Council, Commission on Human Rights, and it is not acceptable to anyone the way in which humanitarian relief is not being allowed there, and the fact that the Janjaweed militias are continuing to carry on the ethnic cleansing. So the answer to your question is, it's a continuing discussion among the G8 members, not just here, but in every forum in which they find themselves.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would simply add to that that the discussion is also going on with the Africa Union. And our primary objective is obviously end the violence against the people in Darfur, but it's also to get the humanitarian access routes open and to provide and get humanitarian and human rights monitors. And we're working very closely with the Africa Union to get those monitors on the ground.
Q I walked in a little late, but from what has already been said, how does this work with regard to some mechanisms that are already in place, like the U.N. Rapid Deployment Force, and a couple of years ago, the G8 at that time, came out with the P8 goals to have something harmonized globally to help in times of crises?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: At the outset -- and then I'll to my colleague -- at the outset, this is tied together. I tried to outline at the beginning of this briefing that this is growing from discussions that were held in Kananaskis, the report in Evian, the work done in Berlin to lead the Africans and the G8 together on a plan for building a peacekeeping capability. The emphasis here is the coordination of what's existing and building on that, not to supplant.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: My colleague is exactly right. Again, this is an evolution. This is making good on some of the promises that the G8 has made over the last couple of years.
Q You've said that you were going to ask Congress for $660 million. When will that money be asked for? Also, are you hoping that -- I mean, you've talked a lot about Africa, but what about peacekeepers for the Middle East? Is there a hope that some way down the road that this exercise is going to be able to provide peacekeepers that might be able to help out in Iraq? One of the problems that I think is widely recognized is that countries like Morocco, Tunisia, countries like that, that maybe could supply peacekeepers seem reluctant to do so. Is there any hope that you're going to get countries like that whose peacekeepers could perhaps be more acceptable to Middle Eastern populations to get on board on this initiative? And just finally, one last question. Are you expecting the G8 leaders at the end of this summit then will have -- will approve this whole plan that you are talking about today?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, if I can just start with the last question first, yes, the idea here is to end up with a declaration out of this summit, an initiative that the G8 has signed up to. I mean, the leaders haven't met yet, which is why I'm being somewhat circumspect about promising that all this stuff is necessarily going to happen. But we have virtual agreement among the G8, and I think you can count on the fact that there will be a declaration at the end of the summit.
Your question about scope, I mean, we're talking a lot about Africa, because Africa is where everybody projects there will be many more peacekeeping operations, much more need for peacekeepers in the near-term and in the long-term, so Africa is kind of job one. But this is a global initiative. And we do plan to do more than just train indigenous peacekeepers in Africa or make that offer to African nations. We also plan to make that offer to others around the world. So there will be a component to it that will address needs elsewhere, as well. I mean, we want to make sure we get Africa right, but the $660 million is not just about Africa, it's globally targeted, if you will.
Your funding question -- we're already talking to the right committees and people on the Hill about how to get this done. It's a lot of money; it is over five years. There is interest in this on the Hill, and we need to follow through on the talks there to see if we can't get the money in the near-term. But I don't have anything to report to you about where that stands.
Q Does this have a name, this initiative?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes it does. It does. It's called the G8 Action Plan: Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He wants you to pronounce the acronym.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We haven't worked out an acronym. It's had different names as it's evolved through the weeks. But it's where we are today -- Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations. So, sorry, no -- I'm not playing the acronym game, despite what Al Kamen has written about acronyms.
Q A number of years ago at the U.N. 50th anniversary, Jerry Rawlings from Ghana got up and basically chided the United Nations for a number of things. And part of it was that as a result of the peacekeeping that was going on in Africa and the poverty in Africa, the men of Ghana who have no work were always volunteering to become peacekeepers. And then there were problems with funding and they weren't getting the money and they weren't getting the clothing and the ammunition or whatever they needed. And then there were problems with how much money they would be paid. So those were all problems, and the biggest problem was, many of them didn't come home, so then there were more widows and more kids without fathers. Is this kind of effort designed to actually pay a reasonable salary, if that's a way to put it, and to reasonably equip peacekeepers? I mean, are we basically starting an African military force? Is that what we're really doing here?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: May I just start and say that this in response to the African leaders. The African leadership understands it's their responsibility to equip and to pay their military. There have been many discussions about the nature of the problem with militaries that are not supported. And the Africans themselves are recognizing that part of their budgets will have to be applied to this.
Training people and not equipping them and paying them means that you still aren't going to have a strong force. We don't have to define that problem for the Africans; they understand it and are giving each other guidance on how to go about that.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'd just like to add that you should not look at, as I said in my initial statement, this initiative in isolation. It's part of a broader strategy for U.S. engagement in Africa, and it includes helping the countries to deal with their health challenges so people are healthy, they live prosperously through our initiatives on economic growth and development, or AGOA, and our MCA Initiative, the Millennium Challenge Account and the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, and then you want them to live peacefully in a stable environment.
So this is part of a three-part coherent strategy for Africa. It's not to be viewed in isolation. The first healthy -- especially dealing with the HIV-AIDS pandemic, through the $15 billion emergency plan for AIDS relief.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay, thank you for coming.
END 1:29 P.M. EDT