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U.S. Africa Command Holds Commemoration Ceremony
Diplomats and service members, including representatives of African nations and the African Union, gathered in Stuttgart, Germany, October 17, 2008, for a formal ceremony marking the activation of U.S. Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM). <br /> <br
Diplomats and service members, including representatives of African nations and the African Union, gathered in Stuttgart, Germany, October 17, 2008, for a formal ceremony marking the activation of U.S. Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM).

The ceremony at Kelly Barracks was attended by the command's staff and approximately 300 guests representing various U.S. government agencies, to include U.S. ambassadors and embassy representatives, as well as African ambassadors from Liberia and Rwanda, and Brigadier General Jean De Martha Jaotody, head of the African Union's Operations and Support Unit, Peace Support Operations Division

"There is an integral link between defense, diplomacy, and development," Jaotody said, "and it is our hope that AFRICOM would advance these interrelated policy objectives in Africa."

U.S. Africa Command was activated October 1 in Washington, D.C., to coordinate U.S. military relationships with 53 nations of Africa plus African regional organizations. U.S. General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, said the October 17 ceremony in Stuttgart was a way to formally mark the command's launch for the international community, German hosts, and the approximately 1,000 staff members in Stuttgart.

"Our priority is our commitment to delivering effective sustained security cooperation programs, in support of United States national security and foreign policy objectives, on the African continent and its island nations," Ward said.

"We will continue to foster our strategic relationships through dialogue and interaction with the African Union, its sub-regional organizations, and the nations of Africa," he said. "We will pursue close coordination and cooperation with our international and our interagency partners to ensure we complement, not conflict, with their efforts on the continent."

Guest speakers included Katherine Almquist, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistant administrator for Africa; The Honorable Mark T. Kimmitt, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs; as well as the African Union's Brigadier General Joatody. Additionally, an African proverb was spoken by U.S. Army chaplain Major Lawrence Bleboo.

U.S. Africa Command is comprised of Department of Defense personnel and U.S. government agency representatives to include the U.S. Department of State and the U.S Agency for International Development. This diversity allows the United States to better focus its resources to support African continent based initiatives. The command does not have authority over the operations of its partner agencies. Instead, personnel from those agencies assist Africa Command in better providing U.S. military support, where appropriate and when requested, to U.S. policy in Africa.

U.S. Africa Command's primary focus is building and maintaining partnerships with African nations and international partners through the conduct of military-to-military programs, military-sponsored activities, and other operations to promote a stable and secure African environment in support of U.S. foreign policy.

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