Libyan Delegation Makes Historic Visit to Africa Command

US AFRICOM Public Affairs
U.S. AFRICOM Public Affairs

STUTTGART, Germany - Libyan Colonel Abdelgane Mohamed, left, interviews Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, U.S. Africa Command deputy to the commander for military operations (center right), and Ambassador Tony Holmes, deputy to the commander for civil-military activities (right), Sept. 22, 2009, during a visit of a Libyan military delegation. Abdelgane is the space and aviation editor of Al-Musallh Magazine, the official magazine of the Libyan Armed Forces. Seated next to him is Libyan Colonel Mohamed Algale, Al-Musallah's chief editor. The interview was part of an orientation program Sept. 21-24, 2009, to explain Africa Command's mission and programs as the two countries continue to build their military relationship. (Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Lapierre)

STUTTGART, Germany, Sep 28, 2009 — A delegation of three senior Libyan military officers visited U.S. Africa Command headquarters as part of an orientation program to explain the command's mission, Sept. 21-24, 2009, as the two countries continue to build their military relationship.

The officers held meetings with senior staff members to discuss the command's programs and activities, met General William E. ward and his two deputies, and traveled to Ramstein Air Base to meet Major General Ron Ladnier, the U.S. Air Force Africa commander, and his staff.

The command hosts African military delegations frequently, but "certainly with regard to Libya, it is quite historic," said Kenneth Fidler, Africa Command Public Affairs Office, which hosted the Libyan team.

Two of the officers in the delegation write for the official magazine of the Libyan armed forces, called Al-Musallh. Colonel Mohamed Algale is the chief editor, and Colonel Abdelgane Mohamed is the space and aviation editor. The third member of the party, Colonel Mustafa Washahi, represented the Libyan Ministry of Defense.

Al-Musallh focuses on defense and strategy issues, not only within Libya and in Africa, but also internationally, and the editors were interested in learning more about Africa Command to support their reporting, Fidler said.

The delegation received in-depth briefings on the command, how it functions and works with African militaries, and how it coordinates and complements other U.S. government agencies' programs in Africa.

The team also conducted on-the-record interviews with Ward and his two deputies, Vice Admiral Robert Moeller and Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes.

Ward visited Libya twice this year, and met the Libyan leader, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, in May.

"It was explained to him that we were there not to threaten the sovereignty of any nation; that we were there to work in close cooperation, but only among those things that the nations wanted us to do," Ward said of his meeting with Libya's leader. " ... it was about trying to enhance the stability and the security of the nations that we work with. We also discussed issues that concern security matters in Africa and how we look forward to working together in ways that help us achieve those common objectives for peace and stability."

The officers also toured AFN-Europe studios in Mannheim, Germany, and met with editors of the European Stars and Stripes in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

"They (Africa Command officials) clarified everything," Abdelgane said in an interview with AFN-Europe. "And they are making our mission easier ... to rise up the level of understanding between the militaries ... and to move for further cooperation to the benefit of both countries."

In January 2009, Libya and the United States signed a defense cooperation memorandum of understanding, which provides the framework for a military-to-military relationship and cooperation on programs of mutual interest.

After the signing of the MOU, a forum called the Council of Colonels met for the fourth time since 2007. These meetings set the tone for Libya-U.S. military relations and is the primary venue for discussing potential security cooperation opportunities, such as ship visits and information exchange programs.

In March, Libyan naval officers spent a day aboard the USS Eisenhower in the Mediterranean Sea to speak with crew members and watch flight deck operations. A U.S. Air Force team was invited in April 2009 to survey Libya's C-130 fleet and infrastructure. And in May, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell visited Tubruq, Libya, the first time a U.S. vessel has visited a Libyan port in nearly 40 years.