Members of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa welcomed its incoming commander, U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Milton Sands III, and said farewell to the outgoing commander, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Dagvin Anderson, during a change of command ceremony at Kelley Barracks near Stuttgart, Germany, July 1, 2021.
U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command, officiated the ceremony and led the symbolic change of leadership by passing the SOCAF colors from Anderson to Sands.
“There’s no playbook for how to do this,” Anderson said. “There’s no manual on Africa. What Africa does is always new and you find yourself reacting in order to get ahead of it. That’s what this headquarters has done.”
Anderson’s comments included thanks for SOCAF’s staff, partners, and family for their help, sacrifice and service during his tenure.
“I am passionate about this mission, and I don’t know how you can’t be passionate with people like this,” Anderson said. “Thank you, thank you for making a difference, thank you for helping people to have a better life, thank you for helping them resist oppression. What we do matters, our small efforts have huge impact.”
“Jamie Sands was in [U.S. Special Operations Command Europe] here in Stuttgart before there was a SOCAF,” said Gen. Richard Clark, commander, U.S. Special Operations Command. “He knows AFRICOM. He’s worked in our Joint Special Operations Command specifically dealing with AFRICOM issues. He is exactly the right person.”
“As a command we will embody the core attributes of accountability, integrity, toughness and initiative,” Sands said. “We will accomplish our mission through good leadership, through teamwork, through partnerships, through clear intent, and strong support to you and your families. I’m honored and excited to be part of this SOCAF team.”
SOCAF is the operational command responsible for joint special operations conducted in support of U.S. Africa Command. Anderson took command of the unit in July 2019. SOCAF’s operations focus on countering violent extremist organizations, strengthening the defense capabilities of African partners and protecting U.S. interests in Africa.
Anderson’s next position will be deputy operations officer for the joint staff at the Pentagon. Sands now leads the joint force of approximately 1,700 service members. Like Anderson, Sands brings extensive SOF enterprise-level insight to the command.