Most African states welcome American help in creating professional armed forces that can provide legitimate security, US Africa Command chief General William “Kip” Ward has told the US Congress’ House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee.
Ward was giving evidence to the committee on the activities of his command.
“In many engagements with African leaders during my time as commander of US African Command, and previously as deputy commander for United States European Command, the consistent message that they gave me is their intent for African nations to provide for their own security,” Ward told Congressmen.
“Most welcome our assistance in reaching their goals for security forces that are legitimate and professional, have the will and means to dissuade, deter and defeat transnational threats, perform with integrity, and are increasingly able to support international peace efforts.”
Ward told US politicians Africom works as a part of the overall United States government effort. “We work closely with the Department of State, the chiefs of mission and country teams, the United States Agency for International Development, the Departments of Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security, Agriculture, and other agencies that do work on the continent.
“Similarly, we reach out to international partners, including Europeans, international organizations, non-governmental organisations, private organisations, and academia. Their perspectives on the situation in Africa are valuable,” Ward said.
“The United States Africa Command is involved in military training, education, sustainment and logistics support among other activities that occur throughout our area of responsibility.”
Ward said Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa headquartered in Djibouti conducts training, education, and civil military assistance that helps prevent conflict and promote regional cooperation among nations of Eastern Africa.
“Operation Enduring Freedom Trans Sahara is the military component of the Department of State’s counterterrorism partnership with North and West African nations. Africa Endeavour is an annual communications and interoperability exercise that this year will include 23 African nations
“We support the State Department’s African Contingency Operations and Training and Assistance (ACOTA program) that trains roughly 20 battalions of peacekeepers a year. The peacekeepers have deployed on United Nations and African Union missions across the continent. Recently, we’ve helped deploy Rwandans and some of its cargo to the United Nations mission in Darfur.
“Continuing deployments of the Africa Partnership Station provide training to the navies and coast guards of maritime nations in the Gulf of Guinea and the east coast of Africa, helping them better secure their own territorial waters,” Ward continued.
“Given the lack of infrastructure within Africa and the island nations, our sustainment infrastructure, forward operating sites, and in-route infrastructure are vital.
“I endorse upgrades to these activities and keeping these key infrastructure nodes in service. The enduring presence at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti makes possible our engagement in East Africa and other parts of the continent, as well as supports our US strategic goals in that part of the world.”
Ward further told Congress it uses a “3-D” approach, concentrating on defence, diplomacy, development, “those activities work, in my mind’s eye, in a very harmonious way.”
He says the “3-D strategy recognises the importance of a coherent approach to what we do that causes elements of security to be closely supportive of those things that need to go on in the field of development, as well as diplomacy, institutions of government that take care of its people so that they are, in fact, working as effectively as they can work.
“Our role in that is not to do development, not to do diplomacy, but to assure ourselves as best we can that those activities that we perform in the defence arena are as supportive of those other two legs of the triad as possible.
“And most significantly, the ambassadors and the country teams who have a very heavy say in what we do to the degree that if an ambassador or country team recommends against doing some particular military or security activity, we don’t do it. Because our activities fully support our — and are aligned with our foreign policy objectives, and we look to our ambassadors, we look to our work that we do with — inside the — the relationships that we have with the Department of State, what’s also inside the U.S. Agency of International Development to ensure that our work compliments theirs and not contradicts theirs,” Ward said in a verbatim transcript