About Me

I am an Africa political-military analyst based in Washington, DC focusing on dynamics of armed conflict, human security, weak/failed states, and security cooperation.

I’ve worked at the Center for Complex Operations (CCO), CNA, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS), and the RAND Corporation, and I have a M.A. in Security Studies from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a B.A. in International Relations from Carleton College. While at Carleton, I received the David L. Boren National Security Education Program Scholarship and the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. I am currently a PhD candidate in War Studies at Kings College London, where my dissertation focuses on the disintegration of the military integration process in South Sudan, and I’m also a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

My published work has appeared in the The Atlantic, The National Interest, RUSI Journal, PRISM, World Politics Review, Christian Science Monitor, Naval War College Review, African Arguments, War on the Rocks, and Journal of International Peace Operations, and I’ve been quoted in the New York TimesForeign Policy, US News & World Report, Global Post, Voice of America, Al Jazeera America, Stars & StripesThink Africa PressThe American Interest, Think Progress, IRIN, Daily Maverick,  and World Politics Review’s Trend Lines.

Ostrich Farm

My interest in Africa has developed from multiple sources over several years – first as a member of the African diaspora (Yay Trinidad!), then through my undergraduate research on Afro-Brazilian political mobilization and the evolution of the dialogue on race in Brazil during the 20th century, and finally through my language studies in French, Portuguese, and Arabic which contributed to my career focus on Africa. I started this blog at the urging of my family – especially my sister, who is one of my mentors and many sources of inspiration. She blogs at A Life More Ordinary.

Lesley on Africa covers African politics and security, and occasionally, my reflections from travels on the continent. The opinions expressed in this blog are mine alone, and do not reflect the views of any organization with which I am affiliated.

You can follow me on twitter or reach me by email at lesleyonafrica [at] gmail [dot] com.

16 responses

  1. Lesley, I would like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to you for what I may refer to as a project, for lack of a better word. If I may add, while covering African politics and security issues, I would like you to include your opinions on “Conflict Resolution Strategies” you suggest and why.

    I would like your view on “Truth and Reconciliation” of S.Africa and to some extent “Gacaca” in Rwanda, where reconciliation is done through participation of the population as opposed to other strategies when seeking long term/permanent solutions between ethnic or regional conflicts such as in Sudan and S. Sudan or in Northern Nigeria between Muslims and Christians.

    Thanks again.


    1. Sam,

      Thanks so much for your feedback! My background is more on the causes and dynamics of conflict than on the conflict resolution side, so I don’t think I can add much value there. However, I started this blog to expand my knowledge, so hopefully I’ll have something to add on that topic in the future.

  2. Lesley I am interested please on your thoughts about the situation currently in the Gulf of Guinea with particular emphasis on Equatorial Guinea and its neighbors. There are some rumors pertaining to instability in the region and some liberation/resistance movements in EG financed by Cameroon, Gabon and Nigeria any thoughts?

    1. Daniel,

      Thanks for your comment – I’ll try to respond as best I can. I don’t know about Nigeria’s support for liberation/resistance movements in EG. My past work on Cameroon has led me to understand that the country will continue to be rather insular vis-a-vis regional security affairs – unless Biya’s hold on power is threatened. Therefore, unless there was something about EG that threatened him, it’s unlikely he would go out of his way to support such movements there. Of the 3 countries you mentioned, Gabon would be the most likely to support such movements in EG due to their dispute over 3 islands (Mbanie, Cocotiers and Congas) in Corisco Bay. Gabon’s oil output has been in decline for years, and if it could pressure EG into resolving this border dispute in Gabon’s favor, they would be able to access the oilfields surrounding these islands. That’s my guess.

  3. Very best wishes. Keep working very steadily on your blog, and I am sure that you will be pleasantly surprised by the results. The subject is very worthwhile.

    I am rather surprised by your comment that you get sick easily during your travels. Good heavens Lesley … you are a bit of a “fragile flower” to be tavelling around Africa! Most people who do well in rural Africa can handle bruises quite well, and they are blessed with cast-iron stomachs. Hahahaha! Good luck to you. :-)

    Simba Mtu

    1. Simba,

      Many thanks for your kind words! I have the misfortune of having a particularly delicate stomach, but this doesn’t stop me from trying to get off the beaten track! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? :)



      1. Lesley … Ndiyo. Yes indeed. If you learn one great lesson from Africa – perhaps it is about showing strength in the face of adversity. Good for you :-)

        Simba Mtu

  4. Lesley, thank you for your insight. I was traveling and didn’t have time to post an answer to your insightful comments. Indeed there are very few people with your analytical talents coupled with in depth knowledge and understanding of the issues. More people like you and we will be closer to solving some major problems

    1. Daniel,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. It’s always nice to know one’s insights are appreciated.

  5. Lesley when I read your articles on Kenya I can only conclude you are out of your depth when dealing with this topic.Check of the formation of various formations of the KDF and the Kenya Police including the GSU.Have a read through the SHIFTA uprising of the 1960s,the coup attempt of 1982 and the Sabaot Land Defence force militia of 2006-2008.While you are at it gather some information of the Kenyan Special Forces who led the attack on Kismayu then you will know that it is not only Al shabaab that can fight assymetrical warfare or urban warfare (something which they have proved they can’t apart from blowing themselves up all over the place).
    If the GOK decides to crush the MRC they don’t need the army to do that there are close to 80,000 Police in Kenya including the GSU.

    1. Hi Rodney,

      You’re certainly welcome to your opinion, and I thank you for your feedback. I do actually know about the armed movements you mentioned and the GoK’s response to them. However, I believe that to equate the Kenyan security forces’ ability to address those threats vastly oversimplifies the diversity of such armed movements. This is especially the case when you consider additional variables such as foreign involvement (on both the insurgent and counterinsurgent sides), armed group strength (to be realistic, one cannot equate the KDF’s fight against 2012 al-Shabaab with a hypothetical fight against 2009 al-Shabaab), nationalism, religion, etc.

      Lastly, I would encourage you to read what I write more closely, since you’ve mischaracterized what I’ve written in your statement above. I’ve never written that the GoK would need the army to crush the MRC. After all, the police are considered security forces – at least in the doctrine I’ve read.


  6. Lesley, i really do enjoy reading your blog entries, it is a fresh perspective on security challenges that happen on the continent and keep it coming and good luck.

    1. Ermias – thanks for reading & for your feedback!

  7. […] week FPI talked to Lesley Anne Warner, an Africa analyst at the CNA Corporation, a non-profit research and analysis organization just […]

  8. Good evening Lesley, my name is Mike and I am a student at Norwich University (Strategic Study and Defense analysis BS) and an active duty member of the US Special Operations Command. I am doing my area study on the Maghreb as it is my area of responsibility for deployment. I was wondering if sometime in the next month I could conduct a 5-10 minute telephone interview with you. Your expertise in the area and some of your publications are already part of my reference material and I can’t think of anyone better to get an expert option from. Thanks -Mike

    1. Hi Mike – can you please shoot me an email at lesleyonafrica@gmail.com? Happy yo chat.

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