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U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Michael Franken, U.S. Africa Command’s deputy for military operations, gave AFRICOM’s perspective on Terrorism and crime in Africa on the first day of the Senior Executive Seminar 15-09 here at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies Sept. 14. For more photos, visit the Marshall Center Photo Gallery. (Marshall Center photo by Karl-Heinz Wedhorn /RELEASED)

By James E. Brooks
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Sept. 14, 2015) – National ministers, senior government and military officials from  40 nations  are meeting here at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies for the next five days to examine and discuss transnational crime and terrorism,  and to strengthen professional relationships between participants to counter these threats. 

The five-day seminar titled 21st Century Converging Threats:  Nexus of Terrorism, Drugs and Illicit Trafficking not only includes lectures from international experts who specialize in terrorism and organized crime, but also smaller group discussions designed to build trust and understanding between the nations’ participants to find common ground for cooperative responses. 

The Marshall Center’s Senior Executive Seminar director is Italian Brig. Gen. Luigi Francavilla, who said this gathering is more unique than others that executives travel to attend. 

“The executives selected to attend this seminar were based on their talents and skills and professional position.  They come from countries throughout Europe, Asia, the Pacific region, Middle East and Africa.  The patience of the participants to exchange ideas and offer experience of opinion is the real driving factor of success in this seminar.  We encourage participants to make full use of their professional network and to further increase it while they are here,” said Francavilla. 

This year’s participants include an executive mix where 60 percent serve in military leadership positions and the other 40 percent are civilians in high-government office. 

The seminar’s opening day keynote speaker was U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Michael Franken, U.S. Africa Command’s deputy for military operations, who gave an overview of the challenges on the African continent.  

In his keynote address, Franken gave AFRICOM’s perspective on terrorism and crime in Africa, a continent where he said there are about 400 languages and more than 2,000 dialects.

“Africa is so complex that I don’t know if anyone truly knows it,” Franken said.

Trying to explain the complexity of Africa’s current dilemma and trends with terrorism and crime, Franken, who grew up on a farm in Iowa, compared its corruption to fertilizer, poor governance to soil, sunshine to unemployment and poverty, and crops growing to ethnic and religious tensions.

As deputy of military operations, Franken is responsible for promoting the national security interests of the United States by strengthening the security capabilities of African nations. This includes conducting military operations to assist in development and responsible governance in Africa.

Participants hail from: Afghanistan, Albania; Armenia; Bangladesh; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Cayman Islands; Columbia; Czech Republic; Dominican Republic; Egypt; France; Georgia; Germany; Honduras; India; Indonesia; Jordan; Kenya; Kosovo; Latvia; Madagascar; Malaysia; Mongolia; Morocco; Nigeria; Pakistan; Palestinian Authority; Peru; Philippines; Serbia; Sierra Leone; Tanzania; Thailand; Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; United States; and, Uruguay.

More information on this year’s Senior Executive Seminar can be found online at:  http://www.marshallcenter.org/mcpublicweb/nav-main-wwd-res-courses-ses-en.html.