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TRANSCRIPT: Ambassador Holmes Speaks at Institute for Security Studies in South Africa
<i>Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command&#39;s deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, talked about the origins of the command, addressing questions surrounding its basing and its six current areas of focus. <br /> <br
PRETORIA, South Africa - U.S. Africa Command's civilian deputy, Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, explains U.S. AFRICOM during a speech October 28, 2011, at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa. Holmes discussed controversies related to the command as well as the U.S. military's areas of focus in working with African nations. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Vince Crawley)
1 photo: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 1: PRETORIA, South Africa - U.S. Africa Command's civilian deputy, Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, explains U.S. AFRICOM during a speech October 28, 2011, at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa. Holmes discussed controversies related to the command as well as the U.S. military's areas of focus in working with African nations. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Vince Crawley) Download full-resolution version
Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command's deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, talked about the origins of the command, addressing questions surrounding its basing and its six current areas of focus.

He noted that there is no interest in moving the AFRICOM headquarters to Africa. The idea of AFRICOM offices on the continent was raised in 2007 but was quickly abandoned based on the response of Africans. "We had an idea," Holmes said at ISS in Pretoria. "We tested it. We listened. We were really taken aback by the reaction, no question about that. And so then we changed our plans. It seems to me that's what friends do. That's what partners do. If you inadvertently step on the toes or offend a friend or a partner, you immediately back off, apologize, and adjust. That's what we did."

Holmes emphasized that the United States shares many of the same common concerns as its African partner nations.

"The important thing to realize is the most effective way for us to protect American security interest in Africa is to develop the capacity of Africans, African nations. and African institutions to provide for their own security. This is the connection. We protect and advance our own interests by helping you. So this is a common interest," he said.

To do this, U.S. AFRICOM engages with regional organizations, such as the African Union, and sub-regional organizations to improve the security capacity of African militaries.

U.S. AFRICOM's activities, Holmes explained, are focused in six main areas: peacekeeping, counterterrorism, defense sector reform, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, development of noncommissioned officers, and maritime security.

The complete transcript is included below: DR. JAKKIE CILLIERS: Ambassador Holmes, it's a pleasure to have you at the institute, and we look forward to listening to you. Thanks. AMB. HOLMES: Thanks, Jakkie. Good morning, everyone. It's really a pleasure for me to be here. I had hoped to be here doing virtually the same thing 13 months ago, and then I didn't succeed in overcoming the sensitivity of AFRICOM in South Africa. So I thought it would very useful to come whenever possible, as soon as possible, to try to address straightforwardly and in a historical and certainly a political and a policy context what AFRICOM is, who we are, what we do, why we were created, and how we operate. And so that's what I'm going to try to do for the next 40, 45 minutes, and then I will, as time permits, answer your questions. And I will answer them individually; I'm not going to take four or five and then answer the parts I want to and forget the parts I don't. You know, we'll deal with these. But first I would like to thank ISS for its standing offer to host this event. It's a -- an impressive institution, Africa's premier civil institutions, think tank in the broad area -- however you define it or want to look at it -- of security, and it's one that we find increasingly a worthy partner. We've had a few things to do; we've contracted some studies. But I think that having this position in Pretoria, in South Africa, but with deep roots throughout the continent, gives it a credibility and a depth of expertise that's unique on the continent. So it's a pleasure for me to be here. As Jakkie mentioned, I've been -- basically I was assigned to the U.S. Africa Command in the summer of 2009 by the incoming administration. Now I'm a career diplomat; I've been 32-plus years in the American Foreign Service, and we pride ourselves on our apolitical nature and our ability to work with both political parties in the United States -- with our professionalism, with our expertise, with our flexibility -- to be able to support the interests of the United States, not the interests of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, but the interests of the United States. And we are officers. When I was president of the American Foreign Service Association, there were -- there were 6,700 American Foreign Service officers. We had a bit of a hiring boom the first two years before the budget picture got so bleak last year. So perhaps we're about a 1,000 more than that now. And we take an oath from office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I mean, no one is going to attack our Constitution. But what that means to an active duty American diplomat is that you have to speak truth to power when power is crossing the line and eroding basic American interests as you see it. And in my view, the way the United States Foreign Service has been underfunded, in real terms, without comparing it to the military, although that's an obvious comparison, I felt strongly enough to say that when I was in the position as the head of our union, which is also a professional association. And it was my views about the importance of what we now refer to as a whole-of-government approach, combining diplomacy and development expertise with defense, with power -- that is the most effective way for the United States to deal with the rest of the world writ large. Now, that's particularly true in Africa, and that was built into the vision in the creation of AFRICOM. And I'll get to that in just a second. But that is where my country is most effective in dealing with the rest of the world -- in which you use the power of the United States, the economy, the society, the value of a century and a half of intensive immigration to the United States, in which we combined traditional Anglo-Saxon democratic values with the vibrancy and perspective and contributions of people who have immigrated from virtually every corner of the world. And so that is my vision, and that is this administration's vision, for the way AFRICOM should approach Africa -- in terms of partnership, in terms of respect, in terms of a long-term approach to developing the capacity of African nations, of African institutions, of African militaries -- to develop the capacity and to build the institutions necessary so that Africans can provide for Africa's security, and that the United States is insulated from the problems that affect our national security. And there are real problems emanating from Africa affecting American national security -- because they are addressed by Africa. Now, Africa has never been at the top of our priority list. Before the end of the Second World War, when the United States escaped unscathed -- it was the sole, the sole country that emerged from the Second World War intact, without severe problems -- the contact we had with Africa was very limited. Basically, only in three ways. By far the most important, and the least recognized, is the fact that between 12 and 13 of our population traces its origins back to Africa. That's not something that's affected American foreign policy until rather recently. The second was in 1819, the U.S. Congress appropriated the then-handsome sum of $100,000 U.S. to the American Colonization Society to pay for the small program to return freed slaves to West Africa. And over the course of the next five years, they created what is now the state of Liberia. And thirdly, there was a modest number of American missionaries -- Catholic missionaries, Protestant missionaries -- who did work in Africa in the first several decades of the 20th century. Otherwise, Africa was just -- no one ever -- people hardly knew it existed. And in the aftermath of the Second World War, our approach changed only marginally. Africa was still an afterthought. And it was largely approached in two ways. The more important way was through the prism of the cold war, of the strategic struggle with communism. So Africa was a peripheral battlefield for hearts and minds, largely because of the resources that exist in Africa -- and not really competition for them, but a concern about the prospect of seeing Africa become -- I mean, follow a socialist, communist tide, and the United States and Western world not have access to African resources. And that led us to enter into some pretty abhorrent relationships, or pretty regrettable relationships with some pretty abhorrent people to defend those interests -- things that we now prefer to forget and not to talk about. On the other hand, the second way we approached Africa is what I would, in a word, call through altruism. We in the United States -- we view ourselves as having fought a war of liberation against a colonial power to achieve our independence. And that is fundamental to our identity. And so from the mid-1950s through the end of the 1960s, the United States related very strongly to the emergence of independent African nations. We wanted to help. And the most obvious, most often-cited example of this was the creation of the U.S. Peace Corps. But there was really a strong desire in the United States, an identification with these emerging nations, and we wanted to assist. Now, as the decades passed, as the cold war ended, the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and then two years later the Soviet Union broke up, everything changed. You know, that cold war was gone. The people of the United States demanded what we call a peace dividend. We had neglected so many domestic problems in the United States for so long that there was a bipartisan consensus that we needed to reduce our foreign expenditures and begin investing at home to address some of the long-neglected problems. And we did that. And we cut back sharply our foreign assistance budget, and even our military budget, in the early years of the -- the first half of the 1990s -- as a reflection of this. So the pendulum swung back. But when pendula swing, they often swing too far, and by the middle of the '90s, it was clear -- the U.S. military was up in arms -- that it had gone too far. So military expenditure quickly stabilized and started increasing again in the 1990s. But foreign assistance and diplomacy expenditures continued to suffer. But what also happened -- until after September 11th, 2001. But what happened in the meantime, particularly in Africa, but globally, was extremely important. I mean, from this period of the end of the cold war in the late '80s through the end of the past century was a period of tremendous globalization. The world shrank. People could communicate. People could travel. And what happened in Africa became far more important to the United States -- slowly, without really attracting much notice. But it was brought home very rudely for us on that 7th of August, 1998, when our embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam were bombed. And fairly shortly thereafter, on September 11th, 2001, we had the attacks in Washington and New York. And this changed America's perspective on its vulnerability, its own security, and how we must engage globally to protect our national security interests everywhere, including Africa. So I can tell you today, or even before September 11th, 2001, Africa was far more important to the United States than it had been in the intervening decades. It was still -- if you ranked the regions of the world in priority order, it was still at the bottom of the list. But nonetheless, it got far more attention and far more resources than had ever been the case. And indeed, since September 11th, there has been a huge increase -- 250, 300 percent -- in U.S. foreign assistance to Africa. But in that intervening time, the world had changed. Now, Africa before AFRICOM. AFRICOM was created -- AFRICOM was announced in early 2007. It was created, sort of, unofficially, for a year of transition, the 1st of October, 2007, and then it became a full-fledged American regional military command the 1st of October, 2008. Now, that doesn't mean we'd never had any military engagements in Africa. In fact, our military has been engaging with the militaries on the continent, in virtually every country, for decades. I remember an exercise, what we call a JCET -- a combined joint exercise of special forces -- in Zimbabwe. I spent the first half of the '90s in Zimbabwe, and we had this exercise. And always, you have an opening ceremony and a closing ceremony with refreshments and people talking. A Zimbabwean diplomat -- not a military man, but a diplomat, very senior in the foreign ministry -- came up to me and said -- you know, so this is someone I knew, not really well, but we were discussing. And he said to me, "You don't respect us". "What do you mean, I don't respect you? No, no, you don't respect us," he said. "Elaborate, please." He said, "You have military commands for Europe. You have one for the Middle East. You have one for Asia. You have one for Latin America. But you don't have one for Africa. That shows you don't respect us." I mean, I couldn't make a huge argument. I said, "But we're here. We're doing this. We haven't neglected you completely." But his point was that the lack of a military command dedicated to Africa, for whom Africa is a whole-time occupation, meant that we didn't have sufficient regard for this continent. I wasn't the only one who -- of my embassy peers across the continent -- who had such remarks addressed to him or her. Now, in the aftermath of 9/11, as I said, our perspective changed. We realized, in a very bold and dramatic way, that security threats from very unexpected parts of the world have very direct national security implications for the United States. And a premise of our Africa policy -- the premise underlying the creation of AFRICOM -- is that the United States has national security interests in Africa. I don't think I've ever heard anyone challenge that. But many Africans, including many South Africans, find that a bit jarring. "This is our country, this is our continent." But I certainly would never deny that Africa does not have security interests in Europe, or in North America, or in Asia. But the sensitivity to sovereignty -- because of, I believe, the colonial experience -- this hypersensitivity to sovereignty -- clouds or distorts the way some Africans -- I think not most, but some Africans -- perceive the rest of the world. And so we recognize that. Because of this, and because of, essentially, a blank check that the U.S. Congress provided the U.S. military for whatever it thought was necessary to do, we had the resources to take bits and pieces of the European, the Middle East and the Pacific commands, and unify our coverage of this continent in one new military command that we called AFRICOM. So at the most basic level, what AFRICOM is, is a reorganization of the U.S. military in terms of how it deals with this continent. OK? So six countries in the Horn of Africa were covered by our Central Command for the Middle East. The islands in the Indian Ocean were covered by our Pacific Command in Hawaii. And the vast majority of the continent was covered by our European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, because as these nations emerged as independent countries in the '50s and '60s, they continued to be covered by the European Command because they were European colonies, and that's how we covered Africa, by and large, previously. Now, the people who envisioned this command initially, who had control of the resources, who decided this was a good idea -- they were people in Washington, D.C. They were Defense people, experts, strategists. They weren't Africa people. They didn't know Africa. Oh, they'd read a little bit. They knew there were ungoverned spaces in Somalia, for example. But they had no idea about African sensitivities. And so they made this absolute blunder right at the very beginning by assuming that if you have an Africa Command, it would be most effective on the African continent. Now, in sort of a technical, logistical sense, that's probably true. In a political sense, it blew up in their faces, in all of our faces. The initial -- the initial assumption was that the command would be based on the continent -- someplace, we didn't know where. We had a number of consultations in early 2007. And maybe there would even be, depending on interest and necessity, some sort of regional hubs, regional offices as well. But let me digress here for a moment to tell you what a regional military command is. It's a headquarters function, where you have resource people and planners and logisticians and operations people and communications specialists and exercise specialists and outreach and communications and public relations specialists all working together. And these people come from the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, Marines, and the Special Forces -- which is essentially a fifth service now for us -- working together. So it's not troops. It's not people carrying guns. In fact, it's a lot of balding, greying middle-aged guys, and increasingly, women, with extended waistlines, whose best days are over but who have a lot of experience and expertise. And that's what they do. So this idea of a base -- AFRICOM's headquarters is in Stuttgart, Germany, because most of the people came, and most of the responsibilities came from European Command. The headquarters migrated about 10 kilometers across Stuttgart, Germany, to a barracks, Kelley Barracks, that was in the process of being given back to the German government. The U.S. military presence in Germany has, since the end of the cold war, been reduced by 75 or 80 percent, and there are lots and lots of facilities we've returned over that period of time to the German government. And we said, hold on. We might need this space after all. And so we moved there. But what needs to be recognized is that the original -- now, I was in exile at this time, so it doesn't -- you know, don't blame me. But I know that the original concept being that it would be most effective in Africa, but not having tested that with anyone, the first thing we did was we went out and consulted. Because we had an idea that had implications for the continent. We didn't know where this might be. So we went out and had a serious of consultations. And I'm not certain, but I would -- based on my experience in Washington and in the State Department -- that the vast majority of embassies were instructed -- American embassies on the continent -- were instructed to go in and talk to their host governments about this idea, to give them a copy of the press release if they asked for it, to discuss it with them, to take their pulse -- in a word, to listen. So what we did is, we had an idea. We tested it. We listened. We were really taken aback by the reaction, no question about that. And so then we changed our plans. It seems to me that's what friends do. That's what partners do. If you inadvertently step on the toes or offend a friend or a partner, you immediately back off, apologize, and adjust. That's what we did. So very quickly, we realized that this wasn't going to work, and that we were in the process of -- we had this option in Stuttgart, Kelley Barracks, and that's what we did. And that's what we announced that we would do. And then President George W. Bush took a valedictory trip through Africa in February 2008, to five or six countries, and his final stop, I believe, was in Accra, Ghana. And he clearly was prepared for this question. And a Ghanaian -- at the first four or five stops, no one asked it. He got the question from a Ghanaian journalist, and he said categorically, we will not locate AFRICOM in Africa. We are not going to create a base in Africa. That position, even though it's a different administration, is still the policy. Now, I can also tell you, parenthetically, there's a lot of pressure on us to move. And that pressure's coming from the congressional delegations of the states of Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia, all of who want us to relocate and to pull these people back and put them in their constituencies, because they understand the economic significance of a large group of military people there. Now, in the end, the decision might not be ours. It might be the White House's for political reasons -- domestic American political reasons. But we believe that being the same time zone as Africa, plus or minus an hour depending on which of the continent you are, gives us a tremendous advantage and it would be extremely disruptive for us to be six or seven time zones away. So we want to stay where we are. Anyway, that's the story there. Now, one advantage of creating, in 2007, a regional command, is you have decades of -- decades of experience of the other ones to craft it and get it right. And everyone knew -- literally, everyone knew that the inherent nature of the security problems emanating from Africa, for the United States, were not conducive to traditional military solutions. That these problems are related directly, deeply, with questions of development -- economic development, political development, social development. And recognizing that, and realizing -- and realizing that -- realizing how little experience and expertise existed in the U.S. military on Africa -- because it was such a low priority because there wasn't an Africa Command -- and realizing how little expertise there was in the military to address many of these long-term challenges of development, we decided that the only way we could do this was through what we call a whole-of-government approach -- or sometimes it's called a 3D approach, with development and diplomacy being combined with defense to form an across-the-U.S.-government approach to Africa. Now, I unfortunately at the time was acutely aware of how under-resourced the civilian agencies were. People in the Pentagon who had this idea didn't have a clue. And so it's been proven far more difficult for us to attract the people we would like to have from the State Department, and particularly from USAID and the other civilian agencies in government, because they just don't have the people to provide. But we do our best. And the reason my position exists -- so we have General Carter Ham, a four-star Army general, as our commander. And then we have two deputies: me, from the State Department and then Admiral Joseph Leidig, who's a three-star Navy admiral. The reason -- and all the others just really have one [deputy]. The reason my position exists was twofold. One was to symbolize this, so everyone could see and understand that we were serious about this whole-of-government approach. But the other was for me to be able to provide the backing to the handful of people we have from other agencies, so they wouldn't be just overwhelmed by an extremely strong military culture and military sense of, you know, what's necessary. We've done this all before. We've been successful. Look at us, and this is the way Africa needs to be approached. And we say, hold on, you know, that it -- what has worked in other places not only might not work in Africa, but might actually be counter-productive. So we try to combine this expertise with the military strengths, which are manifest, to be more effective. And what -- the approach we have adopted -- well, let me say first, so on the first of September, 2008, when AFRICOM became formal and official, it had two missions. Like all the other combat and commands it had the traditional military responsibilities for Africa, as largely a planning function. But just the way the Pacific Command deals with Asia or the European Command deals with Europe and the NATO area -- and NATO as an institution and the former Soviet Union -- AFRICOM has those sorts of responsibilities for Africa. However, we don't have any alliances in Africa the way we do in the rest of the world. So it makes it fundamentally different. The second unique, tailor-made dimension of AFRICOM -- the one we talk about most because that's where most of the -- most of the focus is and has been -- is what I call in a word, the engagement mission. And going back to what I said at the beginning, our focus is to, through sustained security engagement -- focus on the word sustained, because when we were operating out of the European Command or the Central Command, our engagement was episodic -- now and then, once a year or every second year. You know, you come to Africa, you spend a couple weeks in, you go back to Europe and you forget about it for a year. The value of AFRICOM is we have people living, working, breathing, spending all of their time on Africa -- makes a huge difference. But through sustained security engagement, building capacity. Now, AFRICOM was created to protect American national security interests. That's clear, we are a nation. We are accountable to taxpayers. You know, taxpayers give development money to USAID and other civilian agencies. We are given money to protect American security interests. However, the important thing to realize is the most effective way for us to protect American security interest in Africa, is to develop the capacity of Africans, African nations and African institutions to provide for their own security. This is the connection. We protect and advance our own interests by helping you. So this is a common interest. Now, how do we do this? I mentioned earlier, AFRICOM is a headquarters. We have no troops. When we do exercises and we need troops, when we did Shared Accord in Port Elizabeth in August, we have to go to the services -- the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Special Forces -- through something called the RFF process -- the Request For Forces. And our request goes in -- we need 50 Marines to do exercise-shared accord in nine months with South Africa, with other SADC partners on a -- on -- to undertake a two-week or 10-day scenario in which the military comes in and secures a beach and shoreline to permit the delivery of humanitarian assistance and food in a crisis situation. That was the scenario. And there's no guarantee we're going to get them because, as I mentioned, we're at the bottom the priority list. And that's particularly true at a time when we have Iraq and Afghanistan going on, and so many of our forces have had multiple rotations to combat zones. But we manage, because we're small, because we're focused, and because, you know, while it might be the lowest priority, Africa is still a priority. And we have made this commitment and so we make this work. So first thing is, we have no troops. Second thing to understand is how -- I was going to say modest -- how miniscule our budget is. Last -- in our fiscal year 2010 we spent $389 million with all of our engagements on the continent. In FY '11, which ended the beginning of this month, that number increased to 515 million (dollars) for a one-off provision of an awful lot of training and assistance and equipment to the Ugandans and the Burundians to go into Mogadishu -- but we'll talk about that in a minute. I think that in this fiscal year, which began the 1st of October, we're going to see that figure fall back down to about 425 million (dollars). So I find fiscal year '10 to be the most representative. But in all three of these years, the overall U.S. government assistance to Africa was about $8 billion. So 389 million (dollars) of 8 billion (dollars) means that slightly less than 5 percent of what we do on the African continent is military related. Now, as someone who's on the public record as opposing the militarization of our foreign or Africa policies, I'm very comfortable with that number. In fact, I could even be comfortable seeing it rise some -- to 5 percent. OK. Another way -- in fact, probably the most important way that we spend that money well --that we get the most for the dollars that we're spending -- is we adopt every place we can, and I would say we're probably at the 95 percent level, a regional approach. Almost every security problem confronting Africa requires more than one nation to solve. I don't -- can't think of a single one that's conducive to a unilateral solution by the country affected. In many cases, it requires a number -- or many countries to solve. So we work with the African Union intensively. And we work with the sub-regional organizations as much as we can, both to promote and foster interoperability between the militaries of African nations, as well as to create and fill out -- flesh out the security architecture on the continent, and to build the institutions, the Peace and Security Committee of the African Union -- the peace and security organs of the sub-regional organizations. Both to create capacity in those institutions as well as to foster and coordinate and take responsibility, provide leadership, because there are lots of tensions between neighbors on this continent. So one thing we've been working on for a long time, for example, was just getting the West African nations to work together under the aegis of ECOWAS across the Anglophone-Francophone line, because when you pick up that radio and there's somebody who can only speak French on the other end, that's not going to get you very far. So this is the sort of thing we do. Now, our activities are focused in six areas. By far the oldest and perhaps the most well-known and largest is peacekeeping. Since 1997, when we formalized the program, the United States has trained, as of the end of the last month -- the fiscal year of 2011 -- 204,761 African peacekeepers. That's 235 units from 25 countries, including South Africa. And we've sought to -- I mean, we use peacekeeping a lot to bring countries together. I mean, it's a -- it's not a threatening environment. I mean, everyone's agreed -- I mean, we've got so many peacekeeping missions -- African Union peacekeeping missions as well as U.N. ones on the continent, with such a history that most countries, if they can, are willing to contribute. So this is the first. The second is counterterrorism. Counterterrorism itself is a fairly small part of our overall African policy. I mean, since 1989 we have had five basic foreign policy goals for Africa. In a nutshell, they are: democracy, human rights and rule of law; they are conflict resolution; the third is economic development, preferably private-sector led; the fourth is infection diseases, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; and the fifth is a sort of grab-basket of things that we call trans-national issues -- counter narcotics, counter human trafficking, climate change, environmental protection and terrorism. So terrorism is actually very low down in our whole African policy, but for the Defense Department and the U.S. military, it is priority number one. So there is -- sometimes it might even be -- even be called a disconnect. But normally, there is a tension between the State Department and the White House, that have responsibility for our foreign policy and to deal with terrorism globally including in Africa, and the military, for whom it is priority number one. And it is reconciling and balancing this always short-term, compelling imperative to deal with the terrorism issue, without undermining our longer-term interests -- without tipping the balance. And probably, there's no real way that we've discovered that you can do that. There's no policy. You have to test it on a case-by-case basis. It's a bureaucratic battle, sometimes, in Washington. But really, the way it's managed is through embassies, through the ambassador. He or she is the person who best understands the situation locally. He or she is the one who best understands what we're trying to accomplish in a given country and how to balance the activities and focuses and resources that come from the various agencies in Washington. And make no mistake about it: AFRICOM does nothing, literally nothing, on this continent, without the expressed concurrence and approval of the U.S. ambassador. We are part of -- you might even say a tool of U.S. foreign policy. But there are so many other objectives that the ambassador and his team are trying to integrate that, you know, often the military priority, which is number one, comes out at a lower level, depending on how compelling the situation is. Our focuses in the terrorism -- with the terrorism issue are essentially twofold. One is Somalia, al-Shabaab and its impact on the surrounding countries. And I think probably, most of you are aware of Kenya's recent reaction. And then the other is in West Africa, in the Sahel, with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. So we work particularly -- they're different situations, because of the lack of a really credible, established government in Somalia. West Africa is different. They're good governments. They're good militaries. We've got strong embassies. And so we work to build the capacity of the Malian and Mauritanian and Nigerien and Nigerian militaries to deal with their own resident terrorism situations. Unfortunately, the problem in West Africa is particularly worrying because of the recent intertwining of AQIM with Boka Haram in Northern Nigeria, a domestic indigenous group with grievances against the Nigerian government, but which has -- this contact and cooperation has manifested itself in some pretty severe, damaging terrorism attacks, bombings in Northern Nigeria, including a couple months ago at the U.N. headquarters in Abuja, that killed a whole bunch of people. So, I mean, this is a big concern to us. But we have no intention, we have no inclination to go in and try to track these people down ourselves. We do have a strong motivation to try to build the capacity in the Nigerian military and those of the other countries I mentioned to be able to deal with this problem themselves. The third area is defense sector reform as part of security sector reform. I mentioned Liberia and our historical tie to Liberia. When in 2006 we embarked on a pretty basic defense sector reform program, in which we built -- with completely new people -- a Liberian army. I shouldn't say we built. We tried to work with the Liberians to build a 2,000-person army. We spent about $350 (million) or $400 million doing that with limited success. But we feel that, you know, the international community looks to us. Liberia doesn't have a colonial relationship with any former colonial power, but the fact that those American freed slaves went back there and brought pre-Civil War American culture and governance approaches to Liberia means that we've got some historical baggage there that we're willing to address. The other big one is South Sudan. We are in the process of embarking on, perhaps, even a larger defense sector reform program in South Sudan, to try to help them deal with their institutional weaknesses, because they have no institutions. They have an army. They hardly have a ministry of defense. So we do this, and then we contribute to lots of others -- multilateral, focused defense sector, security sector reform programs, particularly in Congo, more recently in Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire. But for us, the difficulty, the frustration is, statutorily, by U.S. law, we cannot train police. We cannot train gendarmes or wildlife services or that sort of thing. We must deal only with the military. And in a security sector reform program, it's a lowest common denominator phenomenon. If you neglect the police and you work with the military, you have all sorts of problems, because the military is brought in to do all sorts of civil functions that the police should be doing, and it undermines the whole project. OK, those are three. The fourth is humanitarian assistance and disaster response. There's usually not much of a role for the military, at least the U.S. military, in these contingencies. We've offered to be part of the international response to the tremendous famine in the Horn of Africa, presently exacerbated by al-Shabaab in Somalia and its refusal to allow international humanitarian access to the people who need it most. But the response we get is, we don't need you. You know, we've got it under control. The international community has been in the Horn of Africa for decades. There's always 3 or 4 million people on food assistance anyway. It happens to be 12 this year. I mean, the issue really is a political one, not a humanitarian one -- not one of inability to meet the needs, and that's al-Shabaab. The fifth area is the development of noncommissioned officers, enlisted personnel. The strength of the U.S. military is the capacity of our noncommissioned officers and the responsibilities that they perform. They are the backbone. And we've got great officers, but, I mean, the people that make the U.S. military function are senior NCOs. They're the ones who train the lieutenants and the captains on how to be good officers. They're the ones that know -- they've got the technical skills. They've got everything, including the traditions. And often, it's very different in Africa. Militaries are officer-focused; noncommissioned officers get no resources, no training. If they're paid, I mean -- the provision of security in Africa is going to depend, in part, on military and government's ability to lift up and train and empower their noncommissioned officers. And the sixth area -- I'm going to wrap up in five minutes, I promise -- the sixth area is maritime. The past couple or three years, the AU, SADC, other regional organizations -- the Economic Community of Central African States in Gabon, ECOWAS in Abuja, Nigeria -- they've become aware of how little awareness they have of what's going on in their territorial waters and exclusive economic zones. They've become aware of the wholesale plundering of their fisheries by foreign vessels. They've become aware of the trafficking, particularly of narcotics, in some areas, and the other economic vulnerabilities they have from the sea. And they don't have the resources. Because this is resource-intensive, they really don't have the capacity in terms of just navies or coast guards. And what is particularly lacking is an integrated government approach, so that even if a navy or a coast guard spotting a fishing vessel or a narcotics-smuggling vessel, and went out, it might not know how to actually seize it. And if it was seized successfully and brought into port, they might not have the legal institutions -- they might not have the laws in place to be able to prosecute these people. You know, they might not know what to do with the cargo seized. So we have a variety -- we have several programs in which we work, again, on a multilateral basis, to get countries -- and particularly in maritime, no country can do it by itself. This requires a regional, subregional approach. And so we work with the various institutions, as well as the navies, as well as 10 European countries and Brazil, to put together what we call Africa Partnership Station. It's a series of U.S. frigates, on both the east and west coasts, that have ship riders and training exercises with African navies and coast guards, to try to get them sensitized to what's happening in their waters and how to deal with it. So let me take a quick look at my notes and see if I neglected anything significant. No, let me conclude by saying two things. You're probably all aware that we in the United States, and most of the world -- I think South Africa, actually, less than most of the rest of the world -- have had a pretty tough past three years economically. That's put tremendous strain on the U.S. budget. But more than a budgetary problem, what this has done is it's generated a political problem in the United States. And there is tremendous political pressure on both parties, but particularly, the Obama administration, to cut back its budget. So I am very concerned about the implications of that -- not so much for the Africa Command or the military, because the numbers being bandied about in public essentially represent reductions in future growth. And our military has gotten very used to very handsome, real increases every year for the past 15 years. But what essentially would be, if the current numbers in play are put into effect, a flat-lining of our military budget, is going to be alongside of dramatic, real decreases in the budgets for our civilian agencies, including the State Department and, in particular, USAID. And that's going to -- that's going to hurt us. The fallout from that will be felt throughout our international engagement. That's a story, you know, that is playing out presently. And, you know, I don't know the answer yet, but it's very important and it's something I watch closely. And the other thing -- let me conclude by trying to bookend what Jakkie said about where I came from into this position and about my views. Now, I'm on the public record, both in speaking and writing, as opposing a militarization of our foreign policy and a militarization of our African policy. Just in terms of the resource allocation to the institutions of the U.S. government, that still is a concern. But having worked in AFRICOM for the past 27 months, a far more real and somewhat surprising image in my mind is much -- is really the diplomatization of the U.S. military. And so let me end there and ask Festus to come up, and we'll answer your questions. Thanks. (Applause.) (END)
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