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Ugandan Press Delegation Visits U.S. Africa Command Headquarters
Ugandan television and newspaper reporters got an in-depth look at the mission of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) during a week-long visit to Germany, July 18-22, 2011. <br /> <br />Seven journalists from Kampala, Uganda, representing four
STUTTGART, Germany - General Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, meets with a delegation of Ugandan media, July 19, 2011. Seven journalists from Kampala, Uganda, representing four newspapers and three TV stations, visited AFRICOM headquarters to meet with senior military leaders, visit military and local news organizations, and receive briefings on a wide range of AFRICOM programs. (AFRICOM photo by Nancy Hudson)
1 photo: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 1: STUTTGART, Germany - General Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, meets with a delegation of Ugandan media, July 19, 2011. Seven journalists from Kampala, Uganda, representing four newspapers and three TV stations, visited AFRICOM headquarters to meet with senior military leaders, visit military and local news organizations, and receive briefings on a wide range of AFRICOM programs. (AFRICOM photo by Nancy Hudson) Download full-resolution version
Ugandan television and newspaper reporters got an in-depth look at the mission of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) during a week-long visit to Germany, July 18-22, 2011.

Seven journalists from Kampala, Uganda, representing four newspapers and three TV stations, met with senior military leaders, visited military and local news organizations, and received briefings on a wide range of AFRICOM programs.

"These visits provide us an opportunity to explain the command to journalists of a country where AFRICOM has an increasing engagement," said Lieutenant Commander James Stockman, an AFRICOM media officer. "It also allows us to discuss the history of the command, engagement programs in Uganda and the region, and provide a foundation for future reporting and commentary on AFRICOM."

Command representatives presented topics related to U.S. military engagement and assistance programs with Uganda and other African militaries and how they support U.S. policy in Africa. Discussions included an overview of the U.S. military's organization and the history of AFRICOM.

The journalists met AFRICOM Commander General Carter F. Ham, who conducted an on-the-record interview on a number of topics. Uganda, along with Burundi, contributes the majority of military troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The United States has been providing training and assistance to the militaries of Uganda and Burundi, which have been operating inside Somalia "to provide stability, security and to protect the Somali people against this extremist organization known as al-Shabab," Ham said.

The Ugandan military has also been actively searching for Joseph Kony, leader of the notorious Lord's Resistance Army, which for more than 20 years has killed, maimed, and mutilated thousands, abducted thousands of children, and displaced hundreds of thousands of people in communities across northern Uganda and neighboring regions. While Ugandan security forces have successfully pushed the LRA out of Uganda, Kony still terrorizes civilian populations in neighboring nations. In recent years, Uganda has joined forces with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic as the LRA moved into those countries.

Ham said the U.S. role is to be supportive of "ways in which we can encourage and facilitate the coordination between the three primary countries who are engaged in this, encourage and foster the sharing of information that can be useful to all of the parties engaged. â? this is an African security challenge. Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, (and) Central African Republic have recognized that, have committed their forces to it. And I think the U.S. military's role is to support those three nations."

Gerald Barbee, a journalist with the Daily Monitor, Uganda's largest independent newspaper, said that the trip was informative because, "most Ugandans don't know what AFRICOM is about and we had to write about it. Even as we wrote about it, we didn't really know much about it, how it was established, why it was established, and what it was trying to achieve." He added this trip served to dispel preconceived notions.

During their week in Germany, they traveled to U.S. military facilities in Mannheim, Ramstein, and Kaiserslautern. The delegation visited the studios of the American Forces Network (AFN) Europe, in Mannheim. AFN coordinates television and radio broadcasts for American military communities across Europe and in deployment locations, including Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.

At Ramstein Air Base, the largest U.S. Air Force base in Europe, the group met with the staff of U.S. Air Forces Africa, also known as 17th Air Force, which coordinates U.S. Air Force support for U.S. Africa Command. They met Major General Margaret Woodward, the commander of 17th Air Force.

The group also toured the newsroom of the Kaiserslautern-based European Stars and Stripes, which publishes an editorially independent daily newspaper for U.S. military communities overseas. Discussions with its editorial team included freedom of the press issues in both the United States and Uganda.

For Sudhir Byaruhanga, a video producer and on-air reporter for NTV, interviewing senior military leaders was the highlight of his visit, and added he was surprised by how open members of the U.S. military were with journalists.

"Here, we were able to talk to (U.S. military personnel) and ask them questions," he said. By comparison, he said many members of the Ugandan military are less forthcoming about explaining their work to news reporters.

As part of the command's Public Information Partnership and other initiatives developed by the command's Public Affairs Office and J9 Outreach Directorate, AFRICOM hosts visits from African media, academic and civic leaders.

Since October 2007, AFRICOM has received eight press delegations from African nations where the command has increased military-to-military engagement activities to improve their understanding the U.S. military's role in Africa. These have included Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Senegal, and South Africa.
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