Ethical Leadership and Professionalism from Italy to Africa

A roundtable conversation with SETAF-AF

M.A. in Political Science, European Union Policy Studies

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As scholars and practitioners of European Union Policy Studies, advances in globalization bring to question the role of ethics in diplomacy and international relations. Policymakers and diplomats alike must consider how they adhere to ethical principles when representing their countries, fostering trust, and building constructive relationships with other nations. In February 2024, the EUPS program met with members of SETAF-AF to discuss these challenges. 

Members of the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa, better known as SETAF-AF, visited JMU in Florence. Making the journey south from their headquarters in Vincenza, Italy, SETAF-AF is committed to promoting peace, security, and stability in the African region. The task force provides U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Europe and Africa a dedicated center to synchronize activities in Africa alongside scalable crisis-response options for the area. Each year, SETAF-AF conducts hundreds of theater security cooperation activities across dozens of African countries. These activities include resource training, building partner capacity, and improving interoperability. SETAF-AF also conducts multilateral exercises with African troop-contributing countries supporting the United Nations and African Union peacekeeping missions. 

In the panel discussion, the SETAF-AF team shared their key insights on ethical leadership with the students. They discussed some guiding principles that they apply to their missions, including collective decision-making, integrity, and accountability. For their task force, when working to strengthen diplomatic relations within Africa, executing plans that align with the capabilities of the host country is an essential aspect of creating a foundation for continued relations. As some countries within Africa face a range of complex security issues that require capable, competent, SETAF-AF land forces to be accountable to civilian leadership and respectful of the rule of law and human rights. In particular, Colonel Bruhl shared his grounding philosophies for leadership. Serving and helping others is at the core of his leadership practices, and SETAF-AF plays a significant role in aiding others. Ensuring secure environments is essential to the stability of the United States, its allies, the global community, and most notably to the 1.3 billion people who call Africa home.

For the SETAF-AF team, ethical leadership is not just a theory but a daily practice. When they leave for deployments in Africa, they must keep in mind not only their mission and helping to secure the ally’s territory but also how to respect its sovereign vision for its own future. Their advice resonates with values JMU Dukes know well: Wherever your professional career takes you, if you prioritize service to others, you will always find fulfillment. 

Alexandra Wilson Tuman, JD is a EUPS student and the program's Communications and Recruitment Graduate Assistant. Alexandra graduated cum laude from JMU in 2019 with a BA in International Affairs and a BS in Communication Studies. She recently graduated from Seton Hall Law in May 2023. After graduation, Alexandra hopes to use her legal knowledge to continue working in international policy.  

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Published: Thursday, June 20, 2024

Last Updated: Thursday, June 20, 2024

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