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TRANSCRIPT: Ward Discusses Africa Partnership Station during Radio Gold FM Interview, Ghana
<i>General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, discussed the activities and mission of Africa Partnership Station during an interview with Roland Acquah from Radio Gold FM, March 25, 2010. <br /> <br />The interview was scheduled
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, discussed the activities and mission of Africa Partnership Station during an interview with Roland Acquah from Radio Gold FM, March 25, 2010.

The interview was scheduled during Ward's visit to Accra, Ghana, where he met with senior military officials and civilian leaders.

Ward explained that the Africa Partnership Station is a program led by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, U.S. Naval Forces - Europe, which brings together U.S, African, and European staff members to work with maritime security forces in African nations and help them improve their ability to better secure their territorial waters. The APS ship Gunston Hall. At the time of the interview, the APS ship Gunston Hall was in Ghana, where crew members conducted seminars, workshops, and hands-on training with Ghanaian sailors.

Emphasizing that the work done by APS is at the request of African partner nations, Ward addressed some of the maritime challenges in West African nations, including illegal trafficking. "When a nation is able to maintain control and security of its waterwayssâ?that serves to reduce those illegal activities," Ward said. "And when nations work together, it makes it more difficult for those who would engage in illegal trafficking to say, 'I know it's tough to do my illegal trafficking here, but if I go up the coast a couple hundred miles where African security is less, I'll be able to do it there."

The complete transcript of the Radio Gold FM interview is available below. See related transcript from Ward's press roundtable in Accra at ROLAND ACQUAH: Hello and thank you very much for granting Radio Gold -- (inaudible) -- interview, General. GEN. WILLIAM E. WARD: Thank you. MR. ACQUAH: To begin with, can you give me a general overview of the Africa Partnership Station? GEN. WARD: The Africa Partnership Station is a program that is carried out typically aboard an at-sea platform -- a vessel, a ship -- and the program of the program is designed to accomplish those activities that the partner nations have said are important to them as they continue to work to increase their maritime security capacity. And so the program brings together African staff, it brings together other European potential staff members, it brings together American staff aboard a platform that goes from country to country to work with the maritime security forces of a particular country and do activities with them that further prepares them to be in a position to better secure their territorial waters. And the types of activities that are conducted are activities that the partner nations have said they would like to have done so that they are useful in increasing their capacity to do their job in protecting their maritime boundaries. MR. ACQUAH: So what's Ghana's specific need in terms of this particular partnership? GEN. WARD: Well, Ghana, as a part of the partnership of nations who conduct the activity, may have training activities that they see. And I'm not quite sure exactly what Ghana asked for but it could include things such as visit, board and search when you see a vessel in your territorial waters. You may not know what it's doing there so how do you approach the vessel? How do you approach that vessel in secure ways, safe ways and then board it, ask the crew what they're doing, interrogate the crew, if you will. So that could be the type of thing that goes on. There are other activities -- maintenance, training. Ghana's vessels -- motor operational maintenance, electrical systems maintenance that keep their vessels operational -- that type of training goes on so we can put aboard technicians that are experts in electrical systems, technicians who are expert in marine motors and keeping them operational. And so Ghana could receive some training on that as it pertains to maintaining its fleet. There are other professional -- NCO professionals, development forces, leadership training that goes on. So there is an array of activities that can be conducted but it's all based on what the nations ask for and then there is also how the nations may work together. That's why when you have these ship riders aboard, they're members of the partner nations themselves so they too form part of the staff. You'll have staff from various countries that are participating in the program and they will also serve as instructors and other things as they move along so the staff that's embarked on the vessel is an international staff; it's the staff that has the African partners that are part of it. The vessel that's currently in this area, the Gunston Hall, has a Ghanaian officer on board, has officers of the other countries that are on board. In fact, when Haiti occurred -- the earthquake -- that vessel, the Gunston Hall, went to Haiti to assist in the relief operations there and you know, it also included the various members from the other countries that were a part of the staff of the ship but then they were immediately involved in helping with the relief operations that were going on there in Haiti. MR. ACQUAH: So what's the relationship between this one and the Africa Command? GEN. WARD: Well, the Africa Command sponsors the vessel. We get the resources; we try to get the funding. It's my naval component -- U.S. Navy Africa is my lead component for conducting the program. But when it comes to going back to the Pentagon, getting the resources, getting the allocation of the ship that will conduct it, it's the command that does that working with the Pentagon, getting the resources, getting the ship, getting the money that pays for the gas, the fuel that the ship uses. If there are others that are needed to be a part of the staff -- doctors or veterinarians -- because in many places there are also medical activities that are conducted and so where there's a requirement to get other staff complement to the vessel, then Africa Command goes to the Pentagon and requests those additional assets required to make the program a success. MR. ACQUAH: From your point of view, what do you see are the challenges, or the marine challenges, for West Africa? GEN. WARD: Well, the challenges that are in West Africa are not challenges that I necessarily see -- they are challenges that I've been told about. In the fall of 2006 -- I think it was November of '06 -- the West African nations held a conference in Cotenou, Benin, and at that conference, the chiefs of defense, the ministers of defense came together because they recognized that within their territorial waters, they had problems with illegal fishing; illegal trafficking of various commodities of weapons, the drugs; other challenges with maintaining their maritime security. And so at that conference that had -- I don't know the exact number. I was present; maybe eight, 10 West African nations -- they came together and said, we want to address these maritime security challenges but we need to do it as a region, as partners, because these borders are long and those who would conduct these illegal activities, travel through these waters without any check at all. And so if we work together, we may have a better chance of controlling and maintaining positive security -- the security over our maritime boundaries. And so it was the nations of West Africa that talked about those security challenges. So maritime challenge is certainly one; the border security issues -- there are challenges; the ability to have positive control over their borders, not just land borders but also in the air domain. Those things that keep a nation from having positive control over their territorial borders -- their food, their water -- for states, are the sorts of challenges that the chiefs of defense, the ministers of defense, foreign ministers, heads of state, have all told me that they see as challenges for them, especially when it comes to combating illegal trafficking of various things like drugs, weapons, people, as I've said. MR. ACQUAH: General, why -- it's reported that over 8 percent of Europe's cocaine close to West Africa under the treaty of the sea. How would this practically address this narcotic challenge? GEN. WARD: Well, when a nation is able to maintain control and security of its waterways that checks that illegal trafficking. That serves to reduce those illegal activities. And when nations work together, it makes it more difficult for those who would engage in illegal trafficking to say, well, I know it's tough to do my illegal trafficking here but if I go up the coast a couple hundred miles where African security is less, I'll be able to do it there. So when they work together, it addresses that security challenge and it helps reduce -- it helps prevent the free flow of that illegal trafficking from occurring. MR. ACQUAH: In your estimation, do you believe that the Africa Partnership Station can really practically help Ghana? And if it can, what situation are you looking at? GEN. WARD: Well, the determination as to whether or not it's providing a level of assistance to Ghana is for Ghana to say. What I can say is that as nations come to us and ask for assistance or ask for the sort of training support that will enable to be better at doing what the constitution, what their people want them to do, then we try to provide that level of support and partnership. And quite frankly, as long as we are asked to provide that partnership, training, assistance, our mission is to do our best to be there to do it, for me to go to my Congress, my administration and ask for the resources to provide that. And so that's why, with the creation of AFRICOM -- unlike before when that assistance, that security engagement was sporadic; it was not constant; it was not always dependable -- the creation of U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, will cause that to be a more sustained level of engagement, but again, in response to the things that we are asked to do by the Africans. MR. : We need to have the last question. MR. ACQUAH: Well, on this issue of Ghana's oil, there's been consent, really by some Ghanaians, quite critically, that based on the Dick Cheney report into the Gulf of Guinea and because of the volatility in the Gulf region, America is looking direct to this opportunity such to the Gulf of Guinea area, and that's the reason why AFRICOM was initiated. Not only looking about it, we're hearing about -- we know about the Africa Partner Station and Ghana's oil. Isn't it an issue of America having an interest in Ghana's oil? That's the reason why this station is here. GEN. WARD: No. As I mentioned, the Africa Partnership Station was initiated as a result of a conference in Cotenou, Benin, where the West African leadership said, we would like to have a training program that will help us provide better security over our maritime waters. That was the only reason. The fact that the oil that's there in Ghana as well -- as other places in the Gulf of Guinea, to be sure -- is something that the United States and other nations of the world have as an interest, but not from the standpoint of controlling it or owning it but from the standpoint of when Ghana and other nations take that product to market, it's available in free ways, that it can be competed for so that the results of that can be given back to the people of the nations who have those resources so that the people gain from it. Ghana, like all other countries with the resources, will look to use that and to sell that with -- it provides them to their best advantage, and the hope would be that through their ability to safeguard that resource, it wouldn't be pilfered and stolen and it would be used for the betterment of their people. And that's our interest -- not to own it, not to have control over it. Not at all -- but to have it so that the people of Ghana can benefit from that just as people who have natural resources in other places hopefully are the beneficiaries of their natural resources when they are able to use and be able to be delivered in free, competitive ways to the global setting. That's our purpose. So it's in no way at all designed to own, control Ghana's oil. That belongs to the people of Ghana. MR. ACQUAH: Thank you very much, Gen. Ward. GEN. WARD: Thank you very much. (END)