James Schear, a Global Fellow with the Wilson Center's Africa Program and Environmental Change and Security Program, is a former Assistant Deputy Secretary of Defense with an expertise in the many security challenges facing the African continent. From Boko Haram to ongoing conflict in South Sudan, there is no shortage of issues. We spoke to Schear about a host of topics and also about the potential represented by the Security Governance Initiative agreed to by the U.S. and six African nations. That’s the focus of this edition of Wilson Center NOW.

James A. Schear of Maryland served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Partnership Strategy and Stability Operations from 2009-2013. He led efforts to help foreign partners build effective and accountable security forces, to reshape U.S. investments in stabilization missions post-Afghanistan, to navigate war-to-peace transitions, to prevent mass atrocities and to provide life-saving aid to the victims of natural disasters and complex emergencies. From 1989-94 he served as an advisor at the United Nations where he assisted senior officials in shaping implementation of 1991 Gulf War cease-fire resolutions and providing analytic support to the leadership of UN missions in Cambodia and Former Yugoslavia. In June 1999, Dr. Schear was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service for his work during the Kosovo crisis. During prior service as a deputy assistant secretary of defense, 1997-2001, he and his peacekeeping & humanitarian affairs team played key roles in supporting U.S. efforts to end the Eritrean-Ethiopian war, to stabilize East Timor following its separation from Indonesia, to counter predatory violence in war-torn regions, and to strengthen international standards against the use of child soldiers. More recently, his humanitarian efforts helped shape U.S. responses to Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, as well as Japan’s 2011 tsunami & nuclear emergency, Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, and assistance to refugees fleeing conflict in Syria.

John Milewski is the executive producer and managing editor of Wilson Center NOW and also serves as director of Wilson Center ON DEMAND digital programming. Previously he served as host and producer of Dialogue at the Wilson Center and Close Up on C-SPAN. He also teaches a course on politics and media for Penn State’s Washington Program.