It’s time for another episode in our special series supporting the U.S. Army War College’s Civil-Military Relations Center. This time, the conversation shifts beyond the borders of the United States and looks at the African continent. Comprised of 54 countries and numerous ethnic and linguistic groups, Africa has experienced 220 coup attempts since 1950, indicating a significantly different approach to civil-military relations than those commonly discussed in the Western world. Charles Thomas joins guest host Carrie Lee to examine the unique aspects of the relationship of African militaries to their political leadership. The conversation ranges from the formation of colonial armies to the internal and external threats many African countries have endured in an attempt to explain the modern-day power dynamic on the continent. This is the 7th episode in the series.
The short answer would be colonialism.
Charles G. Thomas is a Professor of Strategic Studies at Air University’s Global College. Prior to his current position, he taught in the Department of History at the United States Military Academy where he also led a small team of instructors in teaching and restructuring their Africa curriculum. His interests lie largely in African military history and particularly in post-colonial African military structures and conflicts and he is the co-managing editor of the Journal of African Military History.
Carrie A. Lee is an associate professor at the U.S. Army War College, where she serves as the chair of the Department of National Security and Strategy and director of the USAWC Center on Civil-Military Relations. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University and a B.S. from MIT.
The views expressed in this presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the Air University’s Global College, U.S. Army War College, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.
Photo Description: Four soldiers of King Edward VII’s African Rifles, Members of a Sudanese troop, they include a sergeant and three privates. Their forbearers were troops in Emin Pasha’s 1890 expedition. Pasha (Edouard Schnitzer) (1840-1892) was the German governor of Southern Sudan. This portrait is part of a series of portraits taken by Stone of soldiers standing to attention outside the House of Commons. They were among the many colonial soldiers from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean who took part in the Coronation procession for Edward VII in London in August 1902.
Photo Credit: Sir (John) Benjamin Stone (died 1914), via National Portrait Gallery