Archive for the 'Gen. Ham' Category

General Ham, Rear Admiral Losey discuss multinational effort to counter Lord’s Resistance Army

General Carter F. Ham, AFRICOM commander, and Rear Admiral Brian Losey, commander of Special Operations Command-Africa, spoke with reporters at AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, on April 24-25, 2012. The Q and A sessions focused on the U.S. military to the contribution to the multinational efforts to support and enable partner nations to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa. The U.S. military role is one component of a comprehensive, multi-year U.S. government strategy designed to increase the protection of civilians; apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and senior commanders from the battlefield; promote the defection, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of remaining LRA fighters; and increase humanitarian access and providing continued relief to affected communities.

This effort was also the focus of an April 24, 2012, Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing where Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for African Affairs; Amanda Dory, deputy assistant secretary of state for African Affairs; and Ear Gast, assistant administrator for Africa, USAID, discussed the U.S. policy aspects of the diplomatic, humanitarian and military roles.

Below are a few excerpts from those sessions:

The role of U.S. forces in countering the LRA:

“We do not have an operational role, and this is I think often misunderstood … . And so we try to educate and inform people to make sure that they understand that that’s not what this is. Our effort, again, is very much a supporting role to try to encourage the militaries of the four African countries that are involved, to lead their effort.”  — General Ham

Support to partner nations: 

“In discussion with the countries involved, we felt that they felt that we could best assist by having a small number of forces with them to help plan and coordinate logistics, intelligence and information-sharing, communication, medical recovery, those kinds of activities. Sometimes it’s just easier and more effective to do that if you’re together on the ground than trying to do that from a long distance. I believe, even in the short time that this mission has been under way, that that presence of American advisors and assistors has been effective. But I think it will become more effective over time.” — General Ham

“In partnership with USAID, the State Department is supporting projects to increase civilian protection, enhance early warning capabilities, deliver humanitarian relief, and strengthen the overall resiliency of communities. We also continue to encourage other international donors to increase their efforts in these areas. As we have seen in northern Uganda and parts of South Sudan, development can play a critical role in pushing out the LRA and keeping it from returning.” — Assistant Secretary Yamamoto

Expectations:

“If this was easy, he would already have been brought to justice. The Ugandans, the Congolese, the South Sudan, Central African Republic, the African Union, the United Nations, lots of nongovernmental organizations, the United States and many others want nothing more than to bring him to justice. So it’s not for lack of will. It is the complexity of operating in this environment. All we can do, I think, is continue to do the best we can to enable those who are operating in the field to try to bring this to conclusion.” — General Ham

Challenges of the operating environment:

“The size of the area that we’re talking about is about the size of California. So it’s a large geographic area, heavily forested, very remote, lack of infrastructure, very few roads, bridges – it’s very, very rough terrain. And so it doesn’t lend itself to an easy solution. And we’re looking for essentially about – we think the Lord’s Resistance Army probably numbers somewhere in the 200 range, and we don’t think they’re ever together. They’re operating in very, very small groups.” — General Ham

“I am confident that we have room to improve our understanding of all the dimensions of the LRA and Joseph Kony operating in that environment. I’m confident that we know more now than we knew six months ago. And I’m confident that over time that we will get to the end states that our president has set out for us with respect to the LRA.” —  Rear Admiral Losey

Special operations forces:

“The soldiers (supporting counter LRA efforts) are from operational detachment alphas. And they come with all the basic special forces operating skills provided by Army Special Forces. … The big benefit right now – what makes us a little bit different is the fact that we are having troop-to-troop contact in the field to do these training functions and to understand what’s happening at the ground level up. When you’re operating from embassies and through normal governmental structures that don’t involve troops in the field, I think you get a slightly different tilt on things.” — Rear Admiral Losey

U.S. interests:

There’s been a lot of conflict in this part of Africa. And if removal of the Lord’s Resistance Army helps contribute to stability and security, if it affords the opportunity for better government, for better economic development, for education and health care to be extended to people, that will bring a broader sense of security and stability. And while that’s certainly good for the people who live in that part of Africa, ultimately it’s also good for us. It builds regional stability. And I think that’s really our overall goal, is to help contribute to regional security.” — General Ham

The end state:

“Effectively ending the LRA threat requires simultaneously removing the top leadership from the battlefield and addressing the conditions that leave communities so vulnerable to predatory groups such as the LRA. This is precisely why the United States is seeking to pursue a multi-faceted strategy to enhance both military and civilian capacity in the region.” — Assistant Secretary Yamamoto

A full transcript of General Ham’s media session is available on the AFRICOM home page. You can read it here, or click here to read Rear Admiral Losey’s transcript. You can click here to read a transcript of Yamamoto’s and other officials’ testimony, or watch an archived video of the entire hearing.

Please click on the links below for more information on AFRICOM, U.S. assistance in countering the LRA and other background resources.

Fact Sheet: U.S. support to regional efforts to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army

Fact Sheet: U.S. military support to efforts to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army

In the news: AFRICOM, partners highlight multi-national efforts to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army

AFRICOM home page

AFRICOM on Twitter

AFRICOM on Facebook

Q&A with Gen. Carter F. Ham

General Carter F. Ham, Commander, US AFRICOM

General Carter F. Ham

 

The US Africa Command Public Affairs Office had the opportunity recently to discuss command issues with AFRICOM Commander General Carter         F. Ham. We asked his thoughts on everything from the evolving mission of AFRICOM to countering the Lord’s Resistance Army and dealing with future Department of Defense budget cuts. Below is an edited excerpt of our interview.

 

 

Q. Could you offer us your views on the mission of US Africa Command and how it’s evolved since you took command last year?

A.“We focus on two aspects of our mission statement. The first is to strengthen the defense capabilities of our African partners. And we do that because we know if their defense capabilities are strong or stronger, they’ll be more capable of dealing with threats and maintaining security not only in their own nations, but regionally as well.

“And the second part of the mission … is to be prepared when directed by the President and the Secretary of Defense, to conduct military operations in the interest of the United States. I don’t think our mission has changed all that much. In the past year, I think what has shifted perhaps, is a refocus … on the military aspects of our mission, and particularly in the realm of countering violent extremist organizations, which are unfortunately starting to emerge in Africa.”

Q. Could you please offer your views on how the operations, exercises and security cooperation programs work to assist African militaries and African organizations?

A. “Our engagement with our African partners, whether bilaterally, collectively or through the African Union regional organizations are an absolutely integral part of what we do. Engagement remains a very key component of what Africa Command does. It is through these exercises, through operations, through seminars and other training, other mil-to-mil activities, that’s frankly how we seek to … strengthen [our partners’] defense capabilities.”

“A part of that engagement that’s often overlooked, frankly, is how much we gain from those exercises. Every time we have the opportunity to put a U.S. service member in contact with African units, that American service member comes back to his or her service, or if it’s in Africa, coming in person, when they come back to the command, they have more capability than when they began that engagement. So this relationship, I think this engagement to me, is the very essence of a genuine partnership, where it works to the mutual benefit of the contributing organizations.”

Q. The Counter-LRA mission has garnered much public attention. What key points would you like to clarify regarding that operation?

A. “Here is an organization, Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, which has terrorized a large number of people in four different states – Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo – for a number of years. Traumatized kids, murdered thousands of people, caused large-scale displacement of populations in a very wide region.

“The contributions of Africa Command to countering the Lord’s Resistance Army are focused on finding ways to help the four nations more effectively collaborate, coordinate and synchronize their efforts to achieve the end state of defeating Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army. That’s best done through support, advising and assistance, rather than US military persons in the lead actually conducting the operations to try to find Kony and capture him.”

Q. You have mentioned before that AFRICOM’s effect is disproportionate to the investment. Would you care to offer some insight into that?

A. “We don’t consume a lot of resources. We don’t spend a whole lot of money in the larger scale of things. We’re not a big consumer of large-scale military forces. We don’t very often require aircraft carriers or fighter wings or army brigades and Marine Corps regiments and battalions. That’s not the kind of organization that we are. We’re at our best when we have leader-to-leader engagements, when we have small teams of military and civilian experts that are embedded and cooperating with their African partners.”

“What I like best about this command is you may find at any one time, a wide number of small teams, in many cases, individuals or pairs of people around the continent engaging with their African partners. It doesn’t take a lot of money, doesn’t take a lot of people, but the effect – everywhere there are Americans, military and civilian, from the command, contributing to African security, I believe that that has disproportionate positive effect.”

Q. Regarding budget matters … How do you see the command using what are sure to be fewer dollars in the future?

A. “We’ve been mandated for the coming fiscal year to reduce our budget by six percent. I’m absolutely convinced we will be able to sustain the level of activity that is required for us to achieve our mission, but at slightly lower cost.  We’re looking for more and more ways where we can operate more effectively and, again, prioritize our efforts on the most important missions. We can do that … by instilling a consciousness across the command, so that each one of us –military, civilian, our DOD and our non-DOD staff as well — focus on asking ourselves the question each time we’re preparing for an activity. Is there a better way to do this? Do we really need all these people? Can the conference be curtailed by a day or two?”

Q:  And to follow up on that … will anything change about AFRICOM’s mission due to the budget cuts?

“When you look at the priorities established in [the Defense Strategic Guidance] document — countering violent extremists, maintaining access, building partner capacity, sustaining relationships with our allies and partners — that’s what we do. It’s at the very core of Africa Command’s mission.”

Click here to read Gen. Ham’s biography. For more information on AFRICOM in general, please visit our homepage at www.africom.mil.

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