Contact Us Press Releases
TRANSCRIPT: African Union, USAID, State Department Officials Speak at U.S. Africa Command Establishment Ceremony
NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemen. Good Morning. Today, the men and women of United States Africa Command will mark the operational stand up of the newest unified command in the Department of Defense. As a courtesy to all, we request that everyone
NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemen. Good Morning. Today, the men and women of United States Africa Command will mark the operational stand up of the newest unified command in the Department of Defense. As a courtesy to all, we request that everyone silence all cellular phones, pagers, and PDAs. We are pleased to have the United States Air Force Europe Band Quintet with us today. The ceremony will commence in five minutes. BAND: Plays for five more minutes. 1055-1100: Official party arrives at venue NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemennPlease be seateddGood Morning and welcome. Representatives of the African Diplomatic Corps including: His Excellency, Eugene Gasana, Rwandan Ambassador to Germany; Her Excellency, Sedia Massaquoi-Bangura, Liberian Ambassador to Germany; Mr. Michael Banahen, representing the Embassy of Ghana; Mr. Nathanial Kaaya, representing the Embassy of Tanzania; Mr. Muntari Kaita, representing the Embassy of Nigeria; Mr. Albert Sifuna, representing the Embassy of Kenya; Colonel Shavrir Shandun (ph), Senegal defense attachh to Germany Civilian and military representatives, along with our many friends from our host nation of Germany, including: Mr. Hubert Wicker, representing the Ministry of Federal European Affairs; Vice Admiral Wolfram Kuhn, Deputy Chief of German Defense Staff; Lord Mayor Wolfgang Shuster, Lord Mayor of Stuttgart; Lord Mayor Edgar Hemmerich, Lord Mayor of Plieningen; Mayor Tomas Jacob, District Mayor of Stuttgart Bad Cannstadt; Mayor Jurgen Lohmann, District Mayor of Muehringen. Representatives of allied nations, ambassadors and leadership from the United States diplomatic corps, including: the Honorable Marcia Bernicat, United States Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea Bissau; the Honorable Janet Garvey, United States Ambassador to Cameroon; the Honorable Gillian Milovanovic, United States Ambassador to Mali; the Honorable June Carter Perry, United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone; the Honorable John Simon, United States Ambassador to the African Union; the Honorable Stuart Symington, United States Ambassador to Rwanda; the Honorable Donald Yamamoto, United States Ambassador to Ethiopia; Mr. Anton Smith, United States Charge d'Affairs to Equatorial Guinea; Mr. Chris Stevens, United States Charge d'Affairs to Libya; Ambassador Mark Bellamy, director of Africa's Center for Strategic Studies. Welcome to our interagency senior leadership, including the Honorable Mark T. Kimmitt, Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military affairs, and the Honorable Katherine Almquist, Assistant Administrator for Africa, United States Agency for International Development. United States Department of Defense representatives, including General Duncan McNabb, commander of the United States Transportation Command; the Honorable Theresa Whelan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African affairs. Representatives from the United States European Command, and United States Central Command, United States Africa Command service component commanders, and commander Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, flag and general officers, senior executive service and senior foreign service members, other distinguished guests, United States Africa Command staff, family and friends: On behalf of the commander, General William E. Ward, we would like to welcome you all to the United States Africa Command unified command status ceremonial. Please stand -- (applause). Please stand for the invocation to be delivered by United States Africa Command Chaplain, Colonel David Colwell, United States Army. CHAPLAIN DAVID COLWELL: Good morning. Won't you please join me for a moment of prayer? We are reminded, in the various holy scriptures of the world, that if we are to be great, if we are to benefit this world, if we are to give blessing, our first desire must be to seek God's will. Heavenly Father, make us careful to listen in our earnest desire to do what is right in your eyes in the years and decades to come. Give us ears to hear and moments of sincere reflection to reacquaint ourselves with your soft voice. As the world longs for hope, peace, and nourishment, make us instruments of thy will for your people, and may the fraternal bonds with allies and partners alike coexist within a covenant of mutual respect and trust. And may the healing of the nations be quickened by our reliance on your wisdom. And, finally, may each of us, and those we endeavor to serve, be blessed and rest in your infinite, strong arms. May God's peace be on all of us this day, amen. NARRATOR: Ladies and gentleman, please be seated. United States Army Garrison Stuttgart Chaplain, Major Lawrence Bleboo, United States Army. CHAPLAIN LAWRENCE BLEBOO: God has a great eye. He sees everything in the world. And so - Totrobonsu -You are our giver of grain and water Amowia - You are our giver of sun and light. Ewuradze -You are our master. We look at the vast continent of Africa and its people and see hope, cooperation and prosperity. A head alone does not counsel Two ants never failed to pull a grasshopper. Many hands make the work light. So for the great Africa Command and the people of Africa unite and work toward the common purpose of advancement of humanity, peace, and stability in the world. Strength and fortitude is with the Africa Command. Let there be no discouragement. With the hunting guide before the sun is set. The one who eats has tasted the hardship of labor. Nananom - Be present. Asaase Yaa, Mother Earth. Spirits of the living God - be present, be present, be present at this ceremony today. NARRATOR: The Defense Department, in recognition of Africa's increasing strategic importance, has organized the United States Africa Command to focus Department of Defense efforts on the continent and its island nations. United States Africa Command's goal is to conduct sustained, value-added engagement to build partner capacity, promote enhanced strategic relationships, support the United States government's humanitarian assistance efforts, and to respond to crises when directed. On 1 October, 2008, United States Africa Command became America's sixth geographic unified command, assuming a responsibility for all United States military relationships and partnerships with African nations and security organizations and implementing, as part of the overall United States government effort, the Department of Defense contribution to United States foreign policy goals in Africa. Ladies and gentleman, please stand for honors to General Ward, and remain standing for the march out of the colors, the playing of the national anthem of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the national anthem of the United States of America. (Music.) (Marching orders.) March on the colors. (Music.) (German and U.S. National Anthems) NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. Now taking his position to present the United States African Command colors is the command sergeant major, United States Africa Command, Commander Sergeant Major Mark Ripka. (Banner is unfurled) (Applause.) NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, please stand. Retire the colors. (Pause) (Marching orders) Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. Ladies and gentlemen, the Honorable Katherine Almquist, assistant administrator for Africa, United States Agency for International Development. (Applause.) KATHERINE ALMQUIST: General Ward, Ambassador Yates, Vice Admiral Moeller, members of the diplomatic corps, members of the military services, and colleagues from the foreign assistance community, I'm grateful to represent the United States Agency for International Development on this historic occasion. On behalf of our administrator, Henrietta Fore, I want to congratulate you, General Ward, for your leadership, and the entire AFRICOM team for your work that has brought us together here today. USAID has been deeply involved in the establishment of U.S. Africa Command. Today is indeed AFRICOM day, and we are very proud of your accomplishments. Since November, 2006, USAID staff has worked side-by-side with the Implementation Planning Team, the Transition Team and AFRICOM staff to establish the command. Currently, USAID has five of its best officers assigned to AFRICOM, bringing with them a wealth of field experience. The senior development advisor, Carl Rahmaan; director of programs Ray Kirkland, director of humanitarian assistance Diana Putman; humanitarian advisor Angela Sherbenou, and Christine Bird (ph), from the Office of the Inspector General. To ensure synchronization at all levels, we have also provided a series of technical advisors, funded by the Department of Defense, to the headquarters of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, integrating on a rotational basis. We look forward to continuing this successful partnership to promote the security of our nation, our allies, and our friends throughout the world and especially in Africa. The United States government has rightly identified development as an integral component of U.S. national security. USAID has a long and successful history of working in tandem with the Departments of State and Defense to advance peace and security and development in Africa. USAID is proud to play the lead role for the U.S. government in humanitarian assistance, promoting democracy and good governance, investing in the well-being of Africa's people, and spurring economic growth on the continent. USAID recognizes how fundamental security is to the success of our mission. To quote our administrator, "Nowhere is the link between security and development more apparent than in Africa." We applaud U.S. military engagements across the continent, as they've partnered with their counterparts in such countries as Ghana, Senegal, Benin, Botswana, and Kenya, helping African nations' militaries prepare themselves to meet the daunting challenges of the 21st century in areas such as counterterrorism, counter-narcotics, peacekeeping and maritime security. These tasks, previously divided across three unified commands, are now the responsibility of a single command: AFRICOM. U.S. military engagements also reinforce critical relationships between militaries and civilian executive and legislative oversight bodies, complimenting work USAID has done on the civilian side. In Nigeria, for example, USAID has sought, over the past 10 years, to strengthen the institutions of civilian governance, to create a viable alternative to military rule, while the U.S. Department of Defense assisted Nigeria in professionalizing its military so that it can focus on its core responsibilities of national defense. We look forward to the added focus AFRICOM will bring to this process, as USAID continues to support strengthening their programs in this and nine other African countries. In close conflict environments, we widely recognize security-sector reform as a natural area for greater coordination and cooperation. In order to be effective, in addition to building professional security forces, security-sector reform programs must support the establishment of relevant legal frameworks, build civilian management, leadership, oversight, planning and budgeting capacities, enhance coordination and cooperation among security-related and civil institutions and manage the legacies of conflict and insecurity. The question we all face is, how do we best address the linkages among security, governance, development and conflict in more comprehensive and sustainable ways? World Bank president Robert Zoellick, in a recent address, identified the most critical challenges in fragile states as areas in which governance, economy and security intersect because the linkages and overlaps among weak governance, poverty and conflict help explain how some states remain fragile for decades. Perhaps we should consider Mr. Zoellick's call for a different framework for building security, legitimacy, governance and economy, beyond security as usual or development as usual. Mr. Zoellick uses the phrase, "securing development" to capture the notion of simultaneity rather than sequencing in addressing security and development to smooth the transition from conflict to peace and then to embed stability so that development can take hold. Mr. Zoellick notes that first among the equally important priorities for a fragile situation, is the establishment of a relatively safe and secure environment. In practice, this means more interaction on the ground between security and development staff so they can communicate their respective interests, capabilities and limitations. One place we are already seeing this demonstrated is in Liberia. AFRICOM's assistance in helping to establish security in Liberia is well-known. As security concerns are being addressed, post-conflict stability has enabled USAID to help the government of Liberia to make considerable strides in strengthening governance and rule of law, combating corruption, delivering basic services to the people, building capacity and increasing government revenue. In this way, we recognize that social, political and economic development can help mitigate a country's going into or returning to conflict. Indeed, World Bank economist Paul Collier estimates that post-conflict countries are twice as likely as other developing countries to fall into conflict, and about half of countries recovering from conflict relapse within the first decade. By focusing on security challenges and supporting state and USAID-led diplomatic and development initiatives, AFRICOM is providing critical value-added to U.S. G(overnment) efforts to provide peace, security and development in Africa. Today, let me extend my best wishes to you and your team, General Ward, as you continue to develop this important command. Thank you for your leadership in reaching out to USAID, and we are committed to continuing to strengthen our relationship in the service of our country, our allies, our friends in Africa, and around the world. Thank you. (Applause.) NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, the Honorable Mark T. Kimmitt, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. (Applause.) MARK KIMMITT: General Ward, Vice Admiral Moeller, diplomats from our African partner nations, United States Africa Command, officials of the African Union and the German government and other distinguished guests, it is an honor to represent Secretary Rice at today's events. I'm especially delighted to be here today with so many old friends and colleagues. We should all take great pride in what the AFRICOM team has accomplished. General Ward is an extraordinary leader -- one who has made this day possible s-- and we should take great note of not only General Ward, but the other great leaders, from top to bottom, that he has within his organization. We should also take note of Vice Admiral Bob Moeller, my old friend from CENTCOM days, and the presence today of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Theresa Whelan, who single-handedly worked the issue of AFRICOM throughout DOD so effectively. We also note the presence of our distinguished ambassador, Mary Carlin Yates, who takes a place alongside Vice Admiral Moeller in the command structure of this organization -- the first time that a State Department official has been integrated into a command structure inside of a military organization. We would also like to acknowledge the presence of our distinguished African diplomatic representatives here today. We are honored by your presence, and the State Department looks forward to expanding our cooperation on issues that mutually affect our nations. Africa Command represents a genuine desire on the part of the Department of Defense to merge and to work with the Department of State, Justice, Treasury, and Commerce, along with the Agency for International Development to promote security and stability on the African continent. We seek to do this by cultivating democratic rule of law, prosperity, supporting good governance and security, ending conflict, containing terrorism and promoting Africa's full participation in the world economy and on the world stage. This vision encompasses a broader understanding of security. If countries are in the grip of poverty, if they're not safe from crime or disease, they are not secure and that insecurity can affect not only their nation, but neighbor nations in the region. Africa Command is specifically geared to this security concept. We're pleased that State Department officials, along with representatives of other government U.S. agencies helped to forge its dual-deputy structure and its significantly inter-agency dimension. What has been created together is an important tool for supporting our comprehensive Africa policy and engagement strategy. In support of that strategy, Ambassador Yates and her State Department colleagues bring considerable foreign policy experience to help guide and advise the Africa Command in undertakings that support U.S. government and African priorities for security cooperation on the continent. State's close involvement with the command means that we are all better-positioned to support assistance initiatives. Africa Command can only make these programs more effective. It is in the spirit of cooperation and assistance that President Bush has more than doubled U.S. assistance to Africa through the President's Emergency Relief Program for AIDS Relief, for an anti-malaria initiative as well that is saving thousands of lives, and through the massive funding for infrastructure and development in the Millennium Challenge concept. No country, no individuals have supported more initiatives on the African continent than the United States taxpayer. In conclusion, a new unified command does not just happen, and we doubt that there are many who grasp the magnitude of AFRICOM's reach and its responsibilities. A new command would normally take at least five years from concept to stand-up: General Ward, what you have achieved -- what your team has achieved -- in less than five years is nothing short of spectacular. You deserve to feel a great and deep sense of accomplishment after this; Africa Command could not have come into being without your sweat equity, and you should take great pride in those accomplishments. We at State congratulate you, we look forward to working with you, and we know that great days are ahead for this command. God bless you, and all of the countries who will be profoundly affected by your efforts. Thank you. NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Brigadier General Joatody, Jean De Martha, head of the Operations and Support Unit, Peace Support Operations Division, African Union. BRIGADIER GENERAL JEAN DE MARTHA JAOTODY: General William Ward, commander of the U.S. Africa Command, distinguished African ambassador assigned to Germany, distinguished U.S. ambassador assigned to Africa, our distinguished host, the government of Germany, senior representatives from the Department of State, Department of Defense, USAID, the director of Africa's Center for Strategic Studies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honor and privilege for me to participate on behalf of the chairperson of the African Union Commission, His Excellency Mr. Jean Ping, and indeed, on my own behalf, in celebrating the official establishment of the United States Africa Command, or AFRICOM, taking place in this beautiful city of Stuttgart. I wish to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate General William Ward, the first commander of U.S. Africa Command, for inviting the African Union Commission to participate at this important gathering. Further, please allow me to thank and commend the government and people of the United States of America, for the preeminence of thought made in hosting this important gathering. The chairperson of the AU Commission expresses his regrets for his inability to attend this important occasion due to previous commitments equally important. Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the establishment of the Africa Command is a clear testimony of the cordial relationship that exists between Africa and the government of the United States of America. In this regard, I wish to state on the outset, on the many cross-proposals and broad outlines of AFRICOM's stated mission in Africa that we share: The prevention of conflict and the promotion of stability in our region; addressing the root cause of underdevelopment and poverty, which are making Africa a fertile ground for breeding terrorism. We need to (give?) our strength to undertake this support operation through training and capacity-building are all issues that we believe are essential to address the peace and security challenges for the African continent. Africa will continue to seek Africa's solutions to its problems, and from AU's recent experiences, ranging from Comoros to the DRC, Burundi, Darfur, and Somalia, it was evident that we have to continue to develop our institutions and sufficient capabilities for planning, training, intelligence, logistics, and mobility, and all this requires sustained resources. But, as you are aware, the challenges we faced in Darfur, for example, and continue to face in Somalia stem from lack of predictable financial support and sustainable logistical capabilities. And unless these issues are addressed through bilateral and multilateral partnerships, they would significantly degrade our ability to attend to our peace and security challenges, to deploy sufficiently-trained and adequately-capable peacekeeping troops. It is our hope that the establishment of our own African Standby Force would be crucial in helping us to manage, and eventually to resolve conflicts from our continent for good. Outside the security framework, relations between Africa and the United States need to continue to be strengthened, building on existing cooperation frameworks, including the Millennium Challenges, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA, enhancing our military efforts to bring peace and security to the people of Africa and promote our common goals of development, health, education, democracy, and economic growth in Africa are concord(?) in the strengthening of bilateral and multilateral security and economic cooperation with African states. There is an integral link between defense, diplomacy, and development. And it is our hope that AFRICOM would advance these interrelated policy objectives in Africa. In this connection, the AU wishes to note with great pleasure the appointment of the first U.S. ambassador to the African Union, which symbolizes the growing relationship between the African Union Commission and the United States government. Africa's endowment with limited resources, especially oil and strategic minerals, the increasing threat from international terrorism further undermining fragile states in Africa, and the need to combat such threats, requires cooperation, not only at the regional level but at the strategic and continental levels. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we believe that the United States has compelling strategic interest in Africa, covering a spectrum of cross-cutting issues. Indeed, the fact that AFRICOM has evolved into a single structure attests to the recognition of Africa's emerging strategic importance and the determination to address the peace and security challenges in the continent in a holistic manner. We are in full cognizance of the fact that peace and stability on the continent will impact not only on Africans, but to the interests of the United States, and to the international community as a whole. However, it is imperative that we have to clearly clarify, define and elaborate on the nature of our relationships. Africa's march towards conservation of its fragile democratic processes, efforts to accelerate sustainable development and the strengthening of state institutions are part and parcel of AU's effort to act in peace and security in Africa. And AFRICOM efforts in its new endeavors would be no doubt reflective of these multiple objectives. Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, we in the African Union established a number of key institutions as part of an overall continental security architecture in order to address the monumental tasks of reestablishing peace, security and stability in the continent, which in turn has led to the establishment of the Peace and Security Council and its components, i.e., the African Standby Force, the Continental Early Warning System and the Panel of the Wise. A common African defense and security policy were also adopted by the heads of state and government at the second extraordinary summit of African Union in Sirte on 28 March, 2004. With regard to the African Standby Force, it was in July 2004 that the assembly of the union approved the policy framework document for its establishment and the military staff committee, which would be one of the major building blocks of the new continental peace and security architecture. The policy framework document stipulates that the ASF will be composed of five regional brigades, one for each region, all comprising multidisciplinary contingent stationed in their respective countries of origin, ready for rapid deployment in accordance with various scenarios. The African Standby Force would assist the Peace and Security Council to perform its responsibilities with respect to the deployment of peace-support missions and interventions, pursuant to the Articles 4H and G of the Constitutive Act of the African Union. The establishment and consolidation of the African Standby Force is an area where the support of our international partners is much needed. As you are aware, there are ongoing discussions with all our partners, including the United States, in this regard and to find workable modalities for the effective vitalization of ongoing financial and military assistance. Here I wish to note that United States engagement started with the defunct Organization of African Unity through the rehabilitation of the building of the Conflict Management Center, the construction and the equipping of a military logistics depot based in the African Union Commission at Addis Ababa. It continues with the planning and logistics assistance for the deployment of AU troops in Darfur regions of the Sudan, and included a series of high-level visits that led to the agreement to develop a broader program of United States governmental support for the AU strategies to operationalize its peace and security protocol. The (inaudible) is sustained through the U.S. contribution to the deployment of African mission in Somalia, or known as AMISOM, the deployment and sustainment of the Ugandan battalions and the equipment -- the provision of equipment to the Burundian battalion. The U.S. is also engaged in strengthening AU capacities in non-peacekeeping components of the Peace and Security architecture by focusing on institutional development strategies and operational programs. You would recall that in the protocol relating to the establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, the need for establishment of a continent-wide early warning system was clearly stated, so as to facilitate the anticipation and prevention of conflict. The protocol so far stipulates that continental area warning system shall consist of an observation and monitoring center, to be known as the situation room, located right in the Conflict Management Division of the Union and responsible for better collection and analyses, with the support of AU partners. Initial steps have already been taken towards the establishment of the continental early warning system. Here I wish to acknowledge that the U.S. is currently providing support for the continental early warning system through the provision of software, computer and communication equipment as a specific programmatic building block to support AU's development and peace and security mandates. Related to the establishment of the ASF and a continental early warning system is the development of the common African defense and security policy, which was provided in Article 5-2 of the constitutive act of the African Union, and was premised on the common African perception of what is required to be done collectively by African states to ensure that Africans' common defense and security interests and goals, especially as set out in the Constitutive Act of the African Union, are safeguarded in the face of common threats to the continent as a whole. Certainly, while outlining this broad architecture, we are also mindful of the constraints and challenges that we outlined above in the area of capacity building, early warning and post-conflict reconstruction so that our expanded responsibilities would attain their objectives. Ladies and gentlemen, it is evident that the new AFRICOM security framework is still taking shape. This means that the U.S. has a historical chance to partner with Africa in a meaningful way by avoiding quick fixes, nor expect immediate results from its partnerships. We prefer that we develop this (inaudible) approach, insisting commitment to pursuit of long-term strategic objectives, which will address legitimate United States national interest, as well as advance the interest of Africa's peace and security agenda. In other words, stability and prosperity in Africa are important to the long-term interest of the United States. A stable, healthy and more prosperous Africa will contribute to global security and a strong world economy. The AU believes that AFRICOM represents an opportunity to strengthen and expand United States and African relationships in this regard. We pledge to take this partnership seriously, and that our combined effort would help Africa to attain sustainable peace and security in the continent. Finally, on behalf of the chairperson of the African Union and the AU Delegation hereby present, indeed on my own behalf, I wish the delegation commemorating the establishment of Africa Command great success. I thank you for your attention. (Applause.) NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, the commander of United States Africa Command, General William E. Ward. (Applause.) GENERAL WILLIAM WARD: I feel like I need to do some jumping jacks or some push-ups or something here to get the blood circulating a bit. Maybe I'll just wiggle my toes or do something like that to cause it to ensure that we've got some great circulation going on. This is a great day. We look out at this great scenario, this setting -- blue skies, billowing white clouds. To be sure, we've had some light rain to keep things green, and we have a little bit of temperature variance, so that as all of our excellencies travel back to the continent, you'll appreciate that big heat tab in the sky. (Laughter.) This is a tremendous occasion for me personally, and I am so, so thankful that you are all here today. I'd like to extend a special thanks to Brigadier General Jaotody. And sir, thank you for your comments. I started to say I may not need to talk at all because you said a whole lot in your presentation there, and I appreciate those very meaningful and supportive words. To Assistant Secretary Kimmitt, Mark, thanks for being here, and what you were able to tell us about the partnership with the State Department reinforced what we've been saying all along. Thank you for that. And to Ms. Almquist, again, for being here. Your comments, as reflected in what your administrator said a bit ago, clearly reinforces the relationship that we have with our organizations, and I am so thankful for that as well. To all of my Excellencies -- (chuckles) -- that's an inside joke -- (laughter) -- to be sure, your being here puts a mark of support on this partnership and relationship. And I know you have sacrificed to be here, and that is not lost on me. Thank you all very, very much. We have also with us dignitaries from Africa who are posted here in Germany, and your travel from Berlin here is richly, richly appreciated. Our German hosts and friends, both uniformed and civilian, we could not be here doing what we do without your support, without your friendship, "Freundschaft und Partnerschaft." We are blessed to be able to be in this great, great city, in this great state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, city of Stuttgart, with friends who know what it means to partner to make a situation better. And that is example is truly the example that we look to carry as we do our work with our African partners and friends. So thank you for your support. Thank you for being here and thank you for that example that the world notes so -- so vibrantly. Our African partners who are here, as well as our other European partners, this is indeed an effort that we all can be proud of and the opportunity to participate in it is one that doesn't come along very often. So thank you for your support in recognizing this opportunity. And I'd like to acknowledge Ms. Theresa Whelan. Mark Kimmitt summed it up: Theresa, you more than anyone have caused this today to emerge from an idea to a reality, and I thank you for your support through that endeavor, but, as importantly, your support in causing the work that this command will do to be able to be something that we can look back upon in a year and say, yes, this made sense, it was the right thing to do and it made a difference. So thanks for being here to be a part of this ceremony. Thank you, Theresa. (Applause.) This is a team effort. And clearly without this great AFRICOM staff, as well as their families, this day wouldn't be possible. So just let me reiterate what you've heard. To my teammates sitting out there in the sun, you guys got a great seat. You know that, don't you? (Laughter.) Just let me thank you for all that you have done so selflessly over what seems like such a short time, but so much as having been accomplished. Without you, the establishment of this command would not have been possible. And I'd also like to give a special thanks to the members of the staff responsible for organizing and setting up today's events and to our quintet from United States Air Force's band here in Europe, for your being here to help make this occasion a military occasion. And it needs the band to do that. So, band, give yourselves a hand! (Applause.) On 1 October, this year, I stood alongside Secretary of Defense Gates, Administrator Fore from USAID and Admiral Mike Mullen, our chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Washington, D.C., for the official activation of the United States Africa Command as our nation's sixth geographic command in the Department of Defense. Now that ceremony was important because it showed the solidarity of the United States government and its commitment to this command. I wanted a ceremony with all of you. Command Sergeant Major Ripka and I have brought the colors of the command to its first home. I wanted to have an event here in Stuttgart so that we could celebrate this momentous occasion together. Today I look out and see African, European, U.S. Department of Defense and our interagency partners, along with our international partners, U.S. Africa Command staff and family members. I'm glad that you could come and share this special day so that we could express to you our appreciation for your role in shaping this command over the past year. I am proud of the U.S. Africa Command team, and I'm humbled to serve as its commander. I'd like to acknowledge, briefly, some of the major contributions made by you -- contributions central to our activities -- from the departments who provided permanent and temporary personnel; to the services and joint community who provided manpower and resources to construct the command; to the community of Stuttgart and the Installation Management Command Europe for their work in rehabilitating the facilities here at historic Kelley Barracks as quickly as they did; to the service members, civilians, contractors who joined the team during its formation and who provided innovative ideas to help us form the right kind of command to achieve our mission; to the U.S. European Command, our comrades right across town, for your fantastic support represented today by Vice Admiral Dick Gallagher, thank you for being good teammates. U.S. Joint Forces Command, who worked alongside with us as we built a command and trained a staff to do what the nation asked us to do. We've got comrades here -- General Duncan McNabb, U.S. Transportation Command. Duncan, thank you for being here. U.S. Transportation Command, my friend, has a big role on this vast, vast continent. Your being here, sir, signifies your support for that mission. Write a big check, buddy. (Laughter.) And I'd also like to acknowledge Lieutenant General Frank Kearney. Frank, Joint Special Operations Command. And I've talked about, but Frank, thanks for being here, recognizing that part of our team as well. Good to see you again. We've got a couple of other folks here, and it would not be appropriate for me to not describe or talk about the Africa Center for Strategic Studies and its current director, Ambassador Mark Bellamy. Mark, thanks for being here, because truly, what you do as we work together helps to get at what the general talked to, and that's sustained security engagement. So, General, thanks for emphasizing that, because that's what we're about, sir, sustained security engagement. We are there for the long haul, the creation of this command signifies that, and we are committed to it. And thanks for your recognition of that fact. To our African and European partners who stood with us, supported us and to the families of all of those of us here in U.S. Africa Command, thank you for your sacrifices while your sponsors spend time away from home doing what was needed to be done to reach unified command status. These are all tremendous contributions and we could not have done it without your help and your support. Now, our priority is our commitment to delivering effective, sustained security cooperation programs in support of the United States national security and foreign policy objectives on the African continent and its island nations. We will continue to foster our strategic relationships through dialogue and interaction with the African Union, its subregional organizations and the nations of Africa. We will pursue close coordination and cooperation with our international and our interagency partners to ensure we compliment, not conflict, with their efforts on the continent. Like all other geographic commands, we are also prepared to respond to crises as directed by our president and will support humanitarian assistance efforts on the continent as needed. Challenges do lie ahead, but there are also great opportunities to help build partners, capacity and support developmental efforts. U.S. Africa Command will continue to seek advice and feedback on how to best turn these opportunities into successes toward a stable and more secure African continent. We are all neighbors in our global community, and a more stable Africa benefits us all. The United States Africa Command's work is just beginning, but I am convinced that as a collective, we will achieve our common goals for security and development. Ladies and gentlemen, we can make a difference. I am proud of all we have achieved to date, but more importantly, I am excited for the future and all of what we can accomplish. There is work to be done. Let's do it right by doing it together, and as the famous U.S. innovator Mr. Henry Ford once said: "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." Again, thank you all for being here. And may God bless all of us in our journeys and our mission in helping to promote and provide for stability. Hoo-ah. (Applause.) NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the playing of the service hymns and remain standing for the departure of the official party. (Music.) (Applause.) NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today's ceremony. On behalf of the commander and staff of United States Africa Command, thank you for your attendance. The staff appreciation day will commence at 12:30. (END) Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.