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