Posts Tagged 'stability'

Malawi Senior Leader Engagement

On 5/24/2010 12:17:36 PM Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka, senior enlisted leader wrote:

I just returned from my most recent trip to Africa where I visited with partner nation military leaders in Malawi. This was my first trip to Malawi. As always, I was encouraged by the willingness of partner nations to improve their security related capabilities and to remain relevant in the contemporary operational environment.
Yes, you guessed it; my focus was to assist — if they invited us to do so, and they did — the Malawi Defense Force (MDF) in advancing warrant officer (WO) and noncommissioned officer (NCO) capabilities and capacity in a way that improves the overall effectiveness of a force.

And once again, I reminded myself what is important in all my engagements and deliberations:

1. Personal relationships are crucial. Everything is personal and this means being on the ground in Africa among Africans.
2. Listen, listen, listen…talk is cheap. Listening is golden.
3. It is for the long-term, not short-term rotations or arbitrary timelines. Nothing happens quickly in Africa. Much will go wrong. Commitments and perseverance are essential.
4. Understand that actions speak louder than words. The image of America in much of Africa is that of a 20-year-old Peace Corps volunteer who lives among the Africans, learns their language, earns little, and is eager to learn.

The US Embassy composition in Malawi is unique in that there is no US military presence in US Embassy-Lilongwe. The senior defense officer/ defense attach resides in US Embassy-Harare, Zimbabwe and the security cooperation officer resides in US Embassy-Gaborone, Botswana. Therefore, US Embassy-Lilongwe employs a Political Military officer (Mr. JT Ice)–who is a foreign service officer–and a foreign service national (Kalezi Zimba) as the military programs specialist; to be quite honest, that construct works quite well in Malawi. JT and Kalezi were wonderful partners this past week. Our delegation also included SGT Carrie Wawrzyk, OPS NCO US Embassy-Harare.

The engagement began with a visit with the Commander-Malawi Defense Force who provided our delegation with the history of the MDF; the MDF prides itself on its professionalism and apolitical approach to past political problems. The Cdr-MDF also explained very clearly that he is intent on improving the capabilities of the MDF WOs and NCOs. Our exchange of concepts and ideas re WO and NCO development was cordial and sincere. However, let me be clear here, this is not new to the Commander-MDF; he began to focus on WO-NCO development two years ago when he made the decision to allocate roughly 40% of MDF IMET to WOs and NCOs.

I was most fortunate this week to meet and spend the entire week with another Defense Sergeant Major (DSM), WO1 Julius Kamphenga. I still find it interesting that our information systems don’t recognize nor identify the postings of a DSM; often, it’s not until I embark on a senior leader engagement do we find out that the Defense/ Armed Force has a posted DSM or Force Sergeant Major (FSM). This fact further emphasizes the importance of US senior enlisted leader engagements in order to fully understand the organization of the defense/ armed force. I found the MDF DSM to be very astute and wise; with 39 years of total service and the last eight as the DSM, he knew the MDF.

Moreover, the Commander-MDF showed great respect for the MDF DSM, not true in all countries I visit who have posted DSMs/ FSMs. Needless to say, I listened and learned from this wizened and sagacious leader.

During the week, we visited various locations in and around Lilongwe and then proceeded to Salima–near Lake Malawi–where the Malawi Armed Forces College (MAFCO) and the MDF Parachute Battalion are located. In each location, our delegation heard various briefings on MDF capabilities, areas of previous partnership, and areas of potential future partnership. Likewise, in each location, the MDF eagerly requested our delegation to present the “US Africa Command” and the “Improving WO-NCO Capability and Capacity” briefings. The audiences–officers, WOs, and NCOs–were very interested in hearing about US Africa Command and how it has progressed since its establishment. Yes, most if not all in the audiences had heard of US Africa Command’s somewhat rocky beginning; they were impressed on how far we have come since those days–one US military command focused on delivering effective military programs and activities to African partners, all focused on security and stability. The audiences were also keenly interested in the “Improving WO-NCO Capability and Capacity” briefing as it uses a simple formula to clearly explain “A” Way to approach this endeavor. As we have stated so many times during this presentation, each partner must apply its own, history, culture, tradition, and doctrine in order to advance their WOs and NCOs in a way that sustainable for their AF/ DF. This presentation only serves to provide them another perspective to WO-NCO development. Just to remind our reading audience, the formula we use is “Ways X Means X 3Will.”

We wrapped-up the week with final discussions with the DSM. The DSM clearly stated his expectations and outcomes from the weeklong visits, discussions, and deliberations. We–our delegation–will now take his requests back to the US Africa Command staff in order to determine how to deliver the programs requested by the DSM, and in a way, that meets the MDF’s needs. As in every post-engagement follow-up we must now demonstrate that we–US Africa Command–are the trusted and reliable partner we want to be, and say we are!

Command Sergeant Major Mark S. Ripka became United States Africa Command’s senior enlisted leader in November 2007. He previously served as command sergeant major of United States Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia. Command Sergeant Major Ripka holds the highest-ranking enlisted position in the command, serving as the principal enlisted advisor to the commander. You can learn more about CSM Ripka at

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.

AFRICOM-related news clips for 5 January 2010

Africa Command Revamps Multinational, Interagency Cooperation Strategies

SIGNAL Magazine – By Maryann Lawlor

January 2010

The latest combatant command to join the ranks in the U.S. Defense Department has set out on a different mission than its well-established brethren. From its very conception, the U.S. Africa Command has been designed to help the nations in its area of responsibility to help themselves. Since its inception two years later, it has been fulfilling that vision with assistance from other U.S. government agencies in an area that comprises 53 countries that include more than 800 ethnic groups who speak more than 1,000 languages. In essence, it is not a typical combatant command.

Exercise in Africa Breaks Many Molds

SIGNAL Magazine – By Rita Boland

January 2010

African nations are overcoming the tyranny of distance posed by their massive continent through an exercise designed to increase command, control, communications and computer capacity. Representatives from more than two dozen African countries met in Gabon at the end of last September through the beginning of October to test technology compatibility. The event helps build relationships and enhance interoperability during disaster relief and peacekeeping missions. The most recent effort built off past exercises and included a variety of first-time occurrences. It also identified new areas of need such as the addition of an information assurance technical working group.

U.S. Marine Corps weighs merits of Africa task force

World Sentinel – By non-attributed author

4 January 2010

Talks are underway to add a special-purpose Marine air-ground task force to U.S. Africa Command, a move that would center on expanding efforts to train African militaries, officials say. The plan is "purely in the conceptual phase," said Master Sgt. Grady Fontana, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Africa, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. "… It´s just something that people are talking about as a way that can help support Africa Command."

Delta 4 assigned to deliver military satellite into orbit

Spaceflight Now – By Justin Ray

4 January 2010

The U.S. Air Force has tapped the Delta 4 as its rocket of choice to launch the fourth Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft two years from now, officials announced Monday.

U.S. helping get Nigeria’s C-130s back off the ground

Stars and Stripes – By Jennifer H. Svan

5 January 2010

Mideast edition-As the United States looks to build strategic partnerships with African countries, it’s investing a lot of hope in Nigeria.

Bomb attempt a wake-up call for Nigeria

CNN – By Princeton N. Lyman

4 January 2010

Washington, D.C. (CNN) — Americans were alarmed to learn of the attempt to bring down an American airliner over Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day. But Nigerians were especially shocked to learn that one of their own, Umar Farouk AbdulMuttalab, was the perpetrator.

Nigeria Regrets Inclusion on US Screening List

Voice of America – By Gilbert Da Costa

4 January 2010

Nigeria wants the US to reconsider its inclusion on a list of countries whose air travelers will be subjected to enhanced security screening techniques. The new security measures come into effect in response to the Christmas Day bombing attempt on a US airliner.

Kenya Seeks To Deport Muslim Cleric To Jamaica

New York Times – By Alan Cowell

4 January 2010

LONDON — The Kenyan authorities were reported on Monday to be planning to deport a Jamaican-born Muslim cleric, Abdullah el-Faisal, who may have helped inspire the Nigerian man accused of trying to bomb an American airliner headed to Detroit on Christmas Day.

UN News Service Africa Briefs

Full Articles on UN Website

31 December 2009 – 4 January 2010

*Uptick in attacks forces UN food agency to shut down programmes in Somalia

*UN helping to monitor volcanic eruption in eastern DR Congo

*UN envoy urges Sudan to work for stability, security in 2010

*DR Congo: UN rushes food to thousands displaced by ethnic fighting

*UNICEF speaks out against child deaths in northern Nigerian clashes

U.S. Africa Command greeting

This is from General William Ward’s introduction on our website, originally posted October 6, 2009, at

From Gen William "Kip" Ward<!– Share –>

My staff and I spend much of our time traveling and meeting with people across Africa, throughout the United States, and around the world. A lot of those people ask us: What is U.S. Africa Command really about? Why has the United States created this organization? What did the American government expect to gain for the American people by building U.S. Africa Command?

These are all excellent questions. The U.S. Africa Command works with Africans and the international community to promote the fundamental idea that establishing professional military service is an effective approach for building self-sustaining stability and fostering conditions that promote development.

Everything we do works toward that goal. We became responsible for all U.S. military activity in Africa in October 2008. Since then, we have worked continuously to listen and learn from our partners so that our activities and programs support the needs of the Africans to provide for their own security and stability.

I personally have learned enormously from our African partners, and I greatly enjoy every opportunity I get to engage with African leaders and their people on the continent and its island nations. Although Africa comprises more than fifty different and independent nations, I have found some common elements of concern:

— Economic security – This includes the safe and secure movement of people and goods. It also includes complex factors such as how to prevent piracy, reduce corruption, provide greater access to health, and promote good governance;

— Respect for rule of law, civil authority, human rights, and valuing dignity for all – I’ve been repeatedly told and seen firsthand that mutual respect is an essential building block of stable, prosperous communities;

— Self-empowerment – People tell me they want to be capable of solving their own problems. They do not want others doing their work for them. Nor do they want others telling them what to do or how to do it.

— Self-sustaining stability The Africans remind me consistently how security and development go hand-in-hand. They want a better tomorrow, and recognize this means coming to terms with the threats to peace in their midst. Continue reading ‘U.S. Africa Command greeting’

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