STUTTGART, Germany – In a culmination of two years in command, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Marcus Hicks transferred command of Special Operations Command Africa to U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Dagvin R.M. Anderson at Kelley Barracks, June 28, 2019.
Special Operations Command Africa is the operational command responsible for joint special operations conducted in support of U.S. Africa Command. SOCAFRICA’s operations focus on countering violent extremist organizations, strengthening the defense capabilities of African partners and protecting U.S. interests in Africa.
Hicks, who is retiring after 32 years of service, took time to thank members of partner nations, certain AFRICOM staff, his family, and members of SOCAFRICA. During his tenure, Hicks focused on building the strategic capacity of African partner nations in parts of Africa where they’re needed the most: the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.
“To the men and women of special operations command Africa, you have accomplished so much with so little, so quickly and under such difficult circumstances. You've done everything I've asked and more. I am enormously grateful and immensely proud to have served with you,” Hicks said.
Maintaining relationships with partners not only helps build their military capacity, but also improves the ability of multiple nations to respond to crises on a continent comprised of 53 sovereign nations across a land mass three-and-a-half times the size of the continental United States. Connections made among African partners at an exercise or other training event coordinated by SOCAFRICA may pay off on the battlefield.
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command, stressed the important role SOCAFRICA has in executing his command’s priorities, which include countering violent extremist organizations like Al-Shabaab in Somalia and Islamic State affiliates in the Sahel, enabling African partners to counter illicit trafficking, and protecting U.S. personnel and facilities.
The soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of SOCAFRICA are perhaps the most versatile and flexible individuals U.S. Africa command has on the continent,” Waldhauser said. “Almost daily, these devoted men and women interact with ambassadors, country teams, western allies and African colleagues, truly embracing the concept of 'With partners', to enable the accomplishment of U.S. Africa command and U.S. Special Operations command objectives on the African continent.”
Anderson joins SOCAFRICA coming from his previous position as the deputy director of operations for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command at Fort H.M. Smith, Hawaii. Like his predecessor, Anderson brings SOF enterprise-level insight to the command with more than a decade of experience in special operations aviation.
“We operate in a complex environment and it's only becoming more complex,” Anderson said. “We're no longer just addressing violent extremists who lash out against freedom; we now have to balance threats from regional powers who seek to intimidate their neighbors, peer adversaries who wish to change to world order, and those who seek to disrupt the peace and prosperity we've enjoyed for the last 7 decades.”
Following Hicks, Anderson will lead the more than 1,200 U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Special Operations Forces as they continue to serve as U.S. Africa Command’s main component in countering terror and strengthening key partner nation militaries across the continent.