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TRANSCRIPT: Moeller Discusses Mission, Priorities of U.S. Africa Command
Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, U.S. Africa Command&#39;s deputy to the commander for military operations, described U.S.-Morocco military relations as "very strong," during a visit to Rabat, Morocco on May 29, 2009. <br /> <br />Moeller was in
Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, U.S. Africa Command's deputy to the commander for military operations, described U.S.-Morocco military relations as "very strong," during a visit to Rabat, Morocco on May 29, 2009. Moeller was in Morocco to meet with leadership and to observe the final portion of Exercise AFRICAN LION, a combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's techniques and procedures. In an interview with Siham Ehulin, a journalist with Akhbar Al-Yawm, Moeller provided an overview of U.S. Africa Command, a geographic command responsible for military relations with 53 African nations. Prior to the formation of Africa Command, its mission was divided among U.S. Central Command, U.S. Pacific Command, and U.S. European Command. According to Moeller, the consolidation of all of these programs and activities into one command makes Africa a higher priority. "Working with our African partners is not only our highest priority; it is our only priority, he stated. "And so what we are able to do now is be much, much more responsive to the needs, the priorities, and the perspectives of our African partners than we were ever able to do the way we were previously organized within defense." Moeller said he was satisfied with the work U.S. Africa Command has accomplished since October 2007, but that there is a "great deal more work to do." "Getting around the continent and listening to the perspective of our African partners is very, very important to us because it allows us then to shape together, discuss in a very meaningful way, what the priorities are of our African partners," Moeller explained. The complete transcript of Moeller's interview is available below: VICE ADM. MOELLER: First of all, I very much appreciate this opportunity to meet with you this afternoon. MS. EHULIN: Thank you. VICE ADM. MOELLER: And to tell you a little about U.S. Africa Command, you know, and explain a little bit about why I'm here in Morocco this week and answer questions that you have. MS. EHULIN: Okay, so let's start with why are you here this week, in Morocco? VICE ADM. MOELLER: Yes. I came to Morocco this week to observe the final portion of Exercise African Lion and have consultations with the leadership of our Moroccan partners about the nature of the exercise, how it's been going and then talk about some things that we may want to do during future exercises. And I've had some outstanding discussions with General Bennani and others about how this exercise has gone, things that we focused on to make this exercise as effective as we could for both our Moroccan partners as well as U.S. forces. And I think we achieved everything that we wanted to achieve out of this exercise. And now, we're looking to see what things we might do in the future to even make it better. So it's been an excellent few days here to observe a portion of the exercise live – did that yesterday – and then, again, talk to the leadership about what the future looks like. And part of that gets back to, quite frankly, the original establishment of U.S. Africa Command. By going from the way that we had been organized within defense is, we had three geographic commands – U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Pacific Command – that had some responsibilities for the military-to-military relations with all of our African partners. The challenge there was that because working with our African partners was not the only thing that they were responsible for, quite frankly, the priority of effort and focus with our African partners was not as nearly as high as it needed to be. Now, with consolidating all those activities in U.S. Africa Command, working with our African partners is not only our highest priority; it's our only priority. And so what we are able to do now is be much, much more responsive to the needs, the priorities and the perspectives of our African partners than we were ever able to do the way we were previously organized within defense. And as you know, we are headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany and we expect to be headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany for a very, very long time. And by being there, we can be largely in the same time zone, operationally, given a couple hours one way or a couple hours the other way. We feel we can be very, very effective there in working with all of our African partners and, again, be much more responsive to the needs of our African partners by being there in Germany. And so – you know, quite frankly, it's fairly easy to get to Africa from where we are and so it allows us to conduct engagement activities and have meetings and consultations with our partners on a very regular basis. And that's something that matters to us a lot because one of the things that's also very important to us is, we consider ourselves to be a listening and learning organization. We want to get around the continent and sit down, as I was able to do over the last few days, and have very, very meaningful discussions with all of our African partners to make sure we understand the perspectives and priorities of our partners as opposed to just surmising what those might be. But by getting around the continent and having these consultations – and we want to do this as often as we possibly can. MS. EHULIN: Mm-hmm. VICE ADM. MOELLER: One of the things, too - just getting back to the exercise, the African Lion exercise that I had to observe – not only did it involve a lot of military operations between our forces in terms of support for peacekeeping operations and things like that but there was a very substantial humanitarian assistance piece that our forces participated in and contributed to with regard to medical care, veterinary care. In one particular region, a tremendous amount of – I had a chance to conduct, essentially, eye exams and leave a great number of eyeglasses available for people in a particular region. So that aspect of what we do is very, very important to us. Again, getting back to the original establishment of the command, we were given all the same responsibilities that all of our other global commands have, but in addition to that, to support all other government agencies that have activities of one sort or another ongoing with our African partners – not take over the responsibility for those activities, but support them where it makes sense to do so in as effective a way as can be done. So that gets us into the areas of these humanitarian kinds of things. We don't have the lead for that, but we support those agencies that do have a primary responsibility for that, such that the overall effect will ideally be even more positive than it might otherwise be. MS. EHULIN: So you don't have any plans to have AFRICOM in Africa? VICE ADM. MOELLER: No, we do not. MS. EHULIN: Okay. Are you satisfied since October, 2007 until now with the work that AFRICOM has done? VICE ADM. MOELLER: We are, but we have a great deal more work to do. Again, getting around the continent and listening to the prospective or our African partners is very, very important to us because what that does is allow us then to shape together, discuss in a very meaningful way, what the priorities are of our African partners so that the activities that we work on together are most responsive to the needs of our African partners. That is very, very important to us as opposed to our simply saying, we want to go do this kind of thing or that kind of thing, we want to make sure that what we agree to do meets the needs and priorities of our African partners. MS. EHULIN: And what are the challenges AFRICOM is facing? VICE ADM. MOELLER: Well, we're still a command that's kind of building and so we're building up the size of our headquarters staff. We need to be mindful of the resources it takes, because one of the things that we've committed ourselves to do with our African partners is to make sure that all of the kinds of activities that were previously the responsibility of European Command, Central Command, and Pacific Command, that they conducted with our African partners – that all those activities for the conduct of those are now our responsibility. We need to make sure that we have all the resources in place such that there is absolutely no interruption or disruption of any of those kind of activities. We've made that commitment to our African partners and so we work the resourcing piece very, very diligently. MS. EHULIN: Okay, and last question: How can you describe the Moroccan-American military relations? VICE ADM. MOELLER: Our relationship is very, very strong. Of course, our partnership, from a U.S. perspective, with Morocco goes back to, essentially, our founding as a nation in the late 18th century. It's been very, very strong and today, I would say – I mean, it is very, very strong now and we look forward to working with our Moroccan partners on even making it stronger. And so that was part of my visit here, to convey to our Moroccan military colleagues that we are very, very interested in working together to further strengthen the relationship and then as we consult on future activities, to again make those as responsive as we possibly can to the needs and priorities of our Moroccan partners. MS. EHULIN: Okay, thank you. VICE ADM. MOELLER: Thank you very much. I really appreciate this opportunity to meet with you today. MS. EHULIN: Me too. (END)
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