Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Africa Command Makes Steady Progress

Africa Command Makes Steady Progress, Ward Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2011 – U.S. Africa Command has made steady, understated progress with allies, regional organizations and international partners on the continent, Army Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward, Africom’s commander, said in an interview last week.

Ward, who took the reins as the first commander of America’s newest geographic command in 2007, will turn over command to Army Gen. Carter F. Ham next month.

Africom conducts sustained security engagement through military-to-military programs, military sponsored activities and other military operations. The command’s aim is to promote a stable and secure environment in support of U.S. foreign policy.

The goals are to help regional allies build security organizations that perform professionally and with integrity, and that have the will and means to direct, dissuade, deter and defeat transnational threats. The command also works to strengthen capabilities to support continental and international peace efforts.

Establishing the command was an uphill battle, Ward said. Critics in the United States assumed it marked another step in the “militarization” of U.S. foreign policy, he explained, and some on the continent saw the command as a new colonialist effort.

“Many thought that the command would be the conduit through which all activity of the U.S. government, continentwide, would pass,” Ward said. “It was never the case, but that was the impression, and since it was a brand-new command, there was no basis for comparison.”

Until Africom stood up, three U.S. commands had responsibility for the continent –- U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Pacific Command. Africa Command was to combine the missions those commands were doing in Africa in a unified and thoughtful purpose....

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