Archive for the 'Commander's Blog' Category

Kigali Genocide Memorial Inspires Visitors in Rwanda

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Lieutenant Commander James Stockman wrote

Most people who know me well will tell you that I’m not an emotional person. There aren’t many things that create a flood of emotion in me, nor do I wear my heart on my sleeve. That all being said, I was recently awe inspired by a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda.

Most of us probably remember the news stories or magazine articles that covered the atrocities in Rwanda in April 1994, where more than 800,000 men, women and children were killed simply because of their ethnicity or their political beliefs. Reading or watching about this genocide can’t compare to actually being at this memorial and reading about the first-hand accounts of survivors, or seeing pictures of countless victims, or looking at blood-stained clothing and weapons that have been preserved to serve as a reminder of this horror. Since this time, the survivors of this genocide have inspired us daily by working to restore trust and rebuild hope in Rwanda.

I am glad that I can say that I am a member of U.S. Africa Command, an organization that is committed to its partnership with Rwanda and that will continue to support efforts to promote peace and security in Rwanda and all of Africa. The work of U.S. AFRICOM is in its activities and programs that we conduct across all of Africa to help our partners increase their capacity. We will continue to work with and support our Rwandan and African partners to ensure that an event as sinister as the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 never happens again.

General Ward’s Fourth of July Message

By General Kip Ward, U.S. Africa Command, July 1, 2010

General William E. "Kip" Ward

Hello Teammates and Happy Birthday America,

As another national birthday approaches, we Americans have much to be proud of. We remember our history from our own independence from colonial rule 234 years ago. We remember those who dedicated their lives in forging the principles of freedom and democracy that make our Nation strong, and remember the sacrifices of those who defended them. And we look forward to another year as a global partner helping to make the world a better and more secure place.

At the same time, many nations across the continent of Africa are celebrating their 50th anniversaries of independence this year. Their progress and sacrifices evoke similar emotions of pride and hope. In my travels to Africa, I have many opportunities to see and celebrate the great work Africans are doing, often in partnership with Americans, toward the common goals of freedom, democracy, and strength.

Over the past year, we in AFRICOM have supported progress by African military partners across the continent in building security capacity and addressing national and regional security challenges. I have seen our great work in partnering with African and European counterparts to address trafficking in drugs, arms, and persons, and to improve maritime security in west and east Africa. I observed pandemic and disaster response exercises as a part of the multinational Exercise Natural Fire in Uganda, which helped support the development of a regional response capacity in the Great Lakes area. Together with our teammates at our embassies in Africa, who represent the Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development and other civilian agencies, we are helping Africans provide for their own security for the benefit of current and future generations of Africans and Americans.

So this Fourth of July, as we celebrate America’s birthday and all that America stands for, let’s also celebrate our strong partnerships with our African friends, and all who work together for the cause of peace and stability.

Memorial Day in Tunisia

On 6/10/2010 3:12:09 PM General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command wrote:

General William E. "Kip" Ward

Hello Teammates,

I just returned from Tunisia, where I had the privilege of taking part in one of the most memorable Memorial Day ceremonies of my career. The visit was an opportunity to reinforce the strong friendship between the United States and this North African ally, for CSM Ripka and me to pay tribute to fallen comrades at the North African American Cemetery and Memorial in Carthage.

Tunisia and the United States have an enduring friendship that extends back over 200 years. The relationship between our countries began with the signing of the Treaty of Tunis in 1791, continued with Tunisian support to Allied troops during the second World War, and remains strong today as we work together to address a range of shared interests, including advancing regional security, combating terrorism and illegal trafficking, and promoting prosperity and stability.

After touching down in the capital city of Tunis, I met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamel Morjane. The next day I met with Minister of Defense Ridha Grira on the morning of May 31, 2010 to discuss security issues of mutual concern. Minister Grira had recently returned from very positive talks in Washington with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and our discussion reinforced our commitments to explore areas for deepening cooperation.

After lunch we headed out to the cemetery for the main event of the day. Following an excellent overview by the superintendent of the cemetery, Carlos Castillo, we walked to an enclosed area where a large crowd had gathered for a ceremony to honor the fallen. As we walked down the path to the ceremony, I marveled at the beautiful day. Dark green, perfectly trimmed grass starkly silhouetted the white markers under an azure blue sky. In front of each stone a miniature American flag fluttered in the stiff breeze.

As we entered the amphitheater, we walked through an honor cordon of Tunisian soldiers. Inside the enclosure, a wonderful mixture of local residents, diplomats from numerous nations and fellow Americans, met us. Men and women from all of our military services, friends, and family members had all gathered to pay tribute to those who lost their lives so we could live in freedom. Their prayers, music, speeches and tributes were heartfelt and moving.

We ended the day with an evening reception that evening hosted by the United States Ambassador to Tunisia, Gordon Gray. Ambassador and Mrs. Gray graciously opened up their home for the presentation of awards to several of our military teammates and their families who will soon depart Tunisia. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Smeigh is departing for Nairobi, Kenya. Lieutenant Commander Matt Lane is retiring from the United States Navy and Colonel Warren Gunderman will soon retire from the U.S. Army after thirty years of service. I am very grateful to Ambassador Gray for devoting part of his Memorial Day reception to honoring our military teammates in Tunisia, as well as to our gracious Tunisian hosts for their warm hospitality.

General Kip Ward
Commander, United States Africa Command

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AFRICOM: Botswana and Namibia

On 5/14/2010 10:27:04 AM General William E. Ward wrote:

I recently returned from a productive trip to Botswana and Namibia, where I had the chance to meet numerous senior political and military leaders to reinforce the strong relationships between our nations, ensure their satisfaction with our efforts to build their security capacity and to listen and learn from them on ways we can continue to move forward.


The visit to Botswana was very important as it reinforced the strong and enduring ties between our two countries. The Botswanan Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Masire and I met briefly to discuss areas of mutual interest and cooperation between our militaries.

This followed with my address to the students of the Defence Command and Staff College (DCSC) and senior officers, noncommissioned officers, and warrant officers of the BDF. The main point of the talk was the importance of stability and the need for sufficient security capacity for our African partners to sustain sufficient stability to allow developmental and other efforts in Africa to continue to grow. I noted the upcoming World Cup and how stability will provide opportunities for future world-class events to come to the continent. At the BDF’s request, I focused much of my talk on intelligence, which is an important enabler for African militaries to gain a common understanding of the battlefield in whatever form it takes. Intelligence is a key to helping commanders make proper decisions through knowledge and analysis. But because intelligence has a traditional connotation of “spying,” I made sure that the audience understood that I was talking about the more constructive and collaborative uses of intelligence, that of gaining and sharing information critical to mission success.

The afternoon featured a tour of the new temporary DCSC facility. Although the facility is small, the Commandant of the School, Brigadier General Giotseleene Morake, has great plans for the future, to include a new campus that will combine the senior and junior staff colleges together along with the noncommissioned officer academy. I was quite impressed with the academic rigor and the desire to innovate.

We followed our school tour by going back to the U.S. Embassy for a media roundtable. The questions focused on the basing of our Africa Command Headquarters on the continent. I told them that U.S. Africa Command would be in Stuttgart, Germany for the foreseeable future and that our work is done on the continent through our people and our programs. One reporter asked me why we don’t do a better job in communicating our messages to the African people. I told him that we are communicating with the African people through the news media and this media engagement. Although it is progressing slowly, I sense that we are effectively communicating our message through to the people of Africa and they are supportive of the command

We received a briefing on the Voluntary Counseling and Testing Center (VCTC) at the Tebelopele Clinic. The U.S. military has worked very effectively with our partners from Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development to combat HIV/AIDS through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (DHAPP). Our government, with other international partners, is making a difference in the fight against this deadly disease.


My first stop on my first visit to Namibia was to the U.S. Embassy for an informative meeting with Ambassador Denise Mathieu and the country team in the capital Windhoek. I was impressed with the level of engagement that the U.S. Embassy and country team is having with Namibia. From working with HIV/AIDS to the Millennium Challenge, the Ambassador and her team are making a difference in southwest Africa.

The day continued with meetings with the Namibian Ministry of Health, where I met with Dr. Kamwi. We discussed U.S./Namibian PEPFAR efforts to eradicate HIV/AIDS in Namibia. Additionally, we discussed ways that Africa Command could help the Namibian military and U.S. country team efforts to assist in health related issues

Another important meeting was with the Ministry of Safety and Security. The key issue of discussion was our support to the upcoming Namibian police visit to Ramstein Air Base in Southwestern Germany to improve their understanding of drug and bomb detection efforts. We also talked about the recently concluded unexploded ordnance training conducted by the Humanitarian Mine Action Program at the Pius Kauda Police Training Center.

The next morning, started early for me with a fifteen minute appearance on the popular nationwide television program “Good Morning Namibia.” Karembire Zemurka was a wonderful host for the show and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to tell the Namibians about our Command on live television.

I went to the Ministry of Education to meet with Minister Lyambo. We discussed the importance of education and how it is a vital aspect of building a future generation that is peaceful and prosperous. We talked about the school that Africa Command is partnering with our U.S. government friends to build in northern Namibia.

My final official stop was at the Ministry of Defense, where I met with the Deputy Minister, the Honorable Lempee Lucas. She and I held an impromptu press conference at the end of our meeting. It was very gratifying to hear Ms. Lucas praise our bilateral relationship and her wish to see Africa Command play a greater role in military-to-military relations in the future.

Over all, it was extremely productive trip, and I hope to visit both of these great countries again in the near future.

VIsit us at


2010 Posture Hearings

On 3/19/2010 4:01:45 PM General William E. Ward, Commander of U.S. Africa Command wrote:

Hello Teammates,

On March 9 and 10, I completed my annual responsibility to provide testimony to the United States Congress on the posture of the United States Africa Command. The public hearings that I participated in and the written statements that I submitted for the record provided me the opportunity to present our approach to sustained security engagement in Africa and our accomplishments over the past year. The positive reception received at these hearings shows that our programs and activities are recognized as doing important work in Africa for our nation and in support of the African people.

The challenges our Command faces due to the complex environment in Africa were acknowledged repeatedly by several members of Congress. Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, described these challenges as “staggering”.

Representative Ike Skelton, Chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, touched upon the rise of violent extremism in Africa “from Al Qaeda in East Africa to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al-Shabaab in Somalia.”

Naturally, the less often asked question of where we are going to relocate our headquarters came up. In fact, Senator John McCain asked why our headquarters was not in Africa. I responded with, “The work of the Command is in its programs, its activities, its exercises, the things that we do across the continent to help the nations of Africa increase their capacity. The headquarters location, quite candidly, doesn’t affect the work, where we plan those activities, where we look to resource those activities.” This answer was accepted by all.

A Congressional hearing naturally focuses on trying to identify problems and challenges. But one idea I was able to emphasize is how I am truly impressed that the people of Africa every day are taking meaningful steps to address their challenges.

At one point a lawmaker asked me about Somalia and pointed out that I had been deployed there 17 years ago, and that the country remains in turmoil. What has changed in the past 17 years, I replied, is that now “there’s a continent-wide organization [the African Union] that has said that, we will do our best to help bring this Transitional Federal Government into a place where it can begin to exert some control over that vast territory. The problem with Somalia is the lack of a government. It’s the lack of effective governance. But there are things being done to address that. It is truly an international effort. It requires the support of the global community.”

What we’re doing with regard to Somalia illustrated the approach of U.S. Africa Command. As I explained to Congress, Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is being supported by the African Union’s Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), as well as the United States and members of the international community. I stated in my testimony that this government is “our best potential for helping to turn around some of the instability and lack of governance” in Somalia. We look to participate with those who also support the TFG through their contributions to the AMISOM mission in ways that add stability to that part of the continent.

I include this discussion on Somalia because comments by senior U.S. government officials have led to speculation and assumption in the media that our verbal endorsement also means active U.S. military operations inside Somalia, to include air support and putting Special Operations Forces on the ground to support combat operations by AMISOM and the TFG. Their assumption was incorrect and led to speculative articles that do not accurately portray our role.

Let me just reiterate points that already have been made by our diplomats: The United States — and this includes U.S. Africa Command — does not plan, does not direct, and does not coordinate the military operations of Somalia’s TFG forces. We have not and will not be providing direct support for any potential military offensives. We are not providing military advisors for the TFG. Lasting security in Somalia will best be achieved by the Somali people working closely with their African neighbors — outsiders cannot impose solutions.

The Congressional hearings were, in my opinion, successful. I left with the sense that the Congress embraces and supports our mission and vision and that the elected representatives of the American people are noticing more and more that our engagement in Africa is meaningful and appreciated.

Finally, I want to thank the AFRICOM staff and all those other teammates who dedicated long hours and considerable energy in preparing the 2010 Annual Posture Statement. Truly a team effort.

Around the Horn

On 1/27/2010 12:50:44 PM General William “Kip” Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command wrote:

Hello Teammates,

I just returned from a quick trip to Djibouti to visit our teammates at Camp Lemonnier and the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa where it was a mere 86 degrees when I arrived.

As I said, it was a quick trip but one I wanted to make to thank Rear Admiral Tony Kurta and his core staff members for the superlative work they have done over the past year. The outgoing core staff is made up of approximately 60 personnel, mostly Sailors, serving on the CJTF-HOA team for one year tours in Djibouti. They train for two weeks in Norfolk prior to arriving and beginning their sojourn in one of the most strategic locations in the world — the Horn of Africa. 

This group is the first core staff to work their entire tour under the command and control of U.S. Africa Command. They did an absolutely fantastic job of working with AFRICOM staff, interagency and international partners to help build the security capacity of the militaries of 13 East African nations. The work they do contributes to regional stability through cooperative security which leads to peace and prosperity for the people of Africa. The core staff is but one small element that supports the magnificent work of CJTF-HOA, but since their replacements are due to arrive soon and as they depart for their homes, families and new adventures, it made sense to me to stop in to see them.

Another group that I had the pleasure of meeting with and speaking to was the 1-65 Infantry Battalion from Puerto Rico National Guard. This unit is deployed to Djibouti to perform the force protection function at Camp Lemonnier for one year. During my time with this great group of Soldiers I had the honor to promote three of their number from the rank of Specialist to Sergeant. Sergeants Moreno-Leon, Reyes-Martinez, and Pizon join the ranks of the non-commissioned officer corps – defining element of our military. I spent the rest of my time with these great Americans, thanking them for their service to our nation and to Africa Command. Through their selfless dedication to duty, Africa and the world community is a better place.

This quick trip reminded me that these men and women and many others like them selflessly serve our great nation, in Africa and in many other places on earth, with very little recognition. It is important that I thank them and, through this blog, thank those who love and support those serving in places close to and far away from home. I consider it an honor.

U.S. Army Gen. William "Kip" Ward, commander, U.S. Africa Command, speaks with the 1st Battalion 65th Infantry Regiment Puerto Rico National Guard, Jan. 26.

Commander’s Intent 2010

A Message from General William E. Ward, Commander of U.S. Africa Command



As we move into the year 2010, I would like us all to take a moment and reflect on our accomplishments thus far and what lies ahead.

Africa Command has already made strides in helping our African partners develop security capacity. Exercises like AFRICA ENDEAVOR and NATURAL FIRE have enhanced interoperability.  Maritime security and domain awareness has been improved through programs like our Africa Partnership Station and the African Maritime Law Enforcement Program (AMLEP). 

Keep in mind, our national interests lie in a stable continent of AfricaThis means that Africans live in the relative peace of a stable environment, are governed effectively, and enjoy a degree of economic and social advancement.  An Africa, whereby African populations are able to provide for themselves, contribute to global economic development and allow access to markets in free, fair, and competitive ways, is good for America and the world.

President Barack Obama stated in Accra, Ghana in July 2009, that “Africa’s future is up to Africans,” and specified five priority areas where the U.S. can contribute to a brighter future for Africa. They are: democracy, opportunity, health, the peaceful resolution of conflict, and addressing transnational challenges. 

US Africa Command supports the defense aspects of the President’s priorities. We will:

Build Partner Security Capacity-in areas such as support and special staff capabilities, the African non-commissioned officer corps, and military/dual-use infrastructures;

Work in Concert with our Partners–continue to work closely with interagency, international and African partners to strive for a stable Africa;

Reinforce Success-build upon those activities that have had positive results to include promoting strategic relationships as outlined by our strategy and national guidance and demonstrating African ownership though activities such as AMLEP.

 Address Transnational Challenges–such as terrorism and drug and arms trafficking, to help prevent the onset or exacerbation of new tensions. 

Respond to Crises-as directed.

We want to help prevent crises rather than only react to them. How we do this is important. The planning required for our activities involves several government entities and our own military, so it is vital that we engage with them and one another continuously.  For example, the insight and opinions of our interagency teammates are valuable and should be sought after during both the planning and execution phases of everything we do. Similarly, we need to be cognizant that our Components, who have already contributed greatly to the command’s efforts, are still growing.

Only through security and development can there be stability, and only through stability can there be HOPE for the future.

Continue to do the good work you have been doing. Thank you for your efforts.

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