Secretary Blinken’s Call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:‎

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed today to reiterate the United States’ grave concern about the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights crisis in the country, including the growing risk of famine in Ethiopia’s Tigray region as well as ongoing insecurity in other parts of the country.  The Secretary pressed for Ethiopia’s and Eritrea’s commitments to withdraw Eritrean troops from Tigray to be implemented immediately, in full, and in a verifiable manner.  In addition, the Secretary noted that Eritrean forces and Amhara regional forces in Tigray are contributing to the growing humanitarian disaster and committing human rights abuses.  The Secretary also stressed the need for all parties to the conflict to end hostilities immediately.

Secretary Blinken welcomed the joint Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights investigation in Tigray to document human rights abuses and stressed the need for justice and accountability measures to hold those responsible to account.  The Secretary noted his appointment of a Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa and noted that Ambassador Feltman would travel to Ethiopia in the coming days.

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    What GAO Found At its core, information operations (IO) are the integration of information-related capabilities during military operations to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp the decision making of adversaries and potential adversaries while protecting our own. (See figure.) For example, in seeking to facilitate safe and orderly humanitarian assistance, the Department of Defense (DOD) would conduct IO by influencing host nation and regional cooperation through the integration of public affairs activities and military information support operations. Information Operations and Selected Information-Related Capabilities GAO found, in 2019, that DOD had made limited progress in implementing the 2016 DOD IO strategy and faced a number of challenges in overseeing the IO enterprise and integrating its IO capabilities. Specifically: In seeking to implement the strategy, DOD had not developed an implementation plan or an investment framework to identify planning priorities to address IO gaps. DOD has established department-wide IO roles and responsibilities and assigned most oversight responsibilities to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. The Under Secretary had exercised some responsibilities, such as establishing an executive steering group. However, the Under Secretary had not fulfilled other IO oversight responsibilities, such as conducting an assessment of needed tasks, workload, and resources. Instead, the Under Secretary delegated these responsibilities to an official whose primary responsibilities are focused on special operations and combatting terrorism. DOD had integrated information-related capabilities in some military operations, but had not conducted a posture review to assess IO challenges. Conducting a comprehensive posture review to fully assess challenges would assist DOD in effectively operating while using information-related capabilities. Why GAO Did This Study U.S. potential adversaries—including near-peer competitors Russia and China—are using information to achieve objectives below the threshold of armed conflict. DOD can use information operations to counter these activities. This testimony summarizes GAO's past work related to DOD's IO capabilities. Specifically, it discusses: (1) DOD's information operation terms and concept, and (2) DOD's actions to implement the 2016 DOD IO strategy and address oversight and integration challenges. This statement is based on GAO's August and October 2019 reports (GAO-19-510C and GAO-20-51SU) and updates conducted in April 2021.
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