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TRANSCRIPT: Ward Discusses Maghreb Region in Interview with Tunisia Journalist
<i>General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), discussed the command&#39;s involvement in Africa&#39;s Maghreb region in an interview with Kamal Ben Younes, International Studies Institute in Tunisia, April 14, 2010, during
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), discussed the command's involvement in Africa's Maghreb region in an interview with Kamal Ben Younes, International Studies Institute in Tunisia, April 14, 2010, during the Maghreb Academic Symposium sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies in Stuttgart, Germany.

The following is a transcript of the interview. KAMAL BEN YOUNES: (In progress) – AFRICOM will do in Maghreb region, in particular. GEN. WILLIAM E. WARD: Well, in particular, what AFRICOM will do is what EUCOM previously was doing in Maghreb region, but in a more comprehensive way. And comprehensive meaning our focus on trying our best to ensure activities, programs are linked, are coherent, insofar as how we collaborate with others to, quite candidly, be in a position where the nations of the Maghreb are seeking to increase their ability to provide security. We can assist in that. And that’s the intent. Our work in helping to promote stability and peace in the region, but also how that, then, affects the rest of Africa and, indeed, our global society. MR. BEN YOUNES: How to promote stability and peace? With military action? With civilian-military action, like in common “green” border project like we started in Tunisia and Algeria, for example? GEN. WARD: We see a role that says, through our support and working with the nations of the Maghreb, they are in a better position to help with their own stability, cooperating regionally to address common threats, cooperating regionally to address common ways ahead of helping to promote and ensure stability. And so it is through, predominantly for us, our military-to-military relationships, but it’s also through our military-supported activities that help promote societal development, and other gains. And so we see it in a very comprehensive way. It’s holistic. It’s how the various elements of activities, from – you know, diplomatic activities, developmental activities and certainly, security activities are integrated to help produce stability. And now, we’re not directly responsible for all of that. I mean, some of that is in the purview of the Department of State. Some of it is in the purview of the U.S. Agency for International Development; some of it is in the purview of other parts of our government, who work with the nations of the Maghreb in those specific areas. But we want to ensure that what we do supports that holistic approach to bringing stability. MR. BEN YOUNES: Do you have coordination in White House, State Department, Pentagon about – with all the American agencies – USAID – GEN. WARD: There is. I mean, obviously, you know – and the process, for us, is a process that is an interagency process. It occurs in our interagency councils that occur in Washington, among all the departments of our government. It also occurs there in the countries by the country teams, the missions, the ambassadors. We are a part of that, through our offices of security cooperation, our bilateral affairs offices. And so that coordination occurs at echelon – at many levels, to include in Washington. It occurs, as I said, there in the country. And then we try to do our best to be involved in that coordination so we have good understanding of what’s going on so that we can do our best to ensure our programs support that coordinated effort. MR. BEN YOUNES: What are the big security threats right now in Maghreb region and sub-Sahara? GEN. WARD: The threats are threats that come from trafficking of illegal commodities – drugs, weapons, people. The threat of violent extremism, violent activities that are being conducted against innocent people – the terror threat, where you would have those that engage in any of those activities seeking to exploit the vast space – the vast area that exists. And so we are hopeful that, you know, the governments of the Maghreb have an increased ability to govern, to secure their own land. MR. BEN YOUNES: How to secure Mauritania with 100 kilometers of borders with the international traffic in drugs? Do you plan to help them – Mauritania or Guinea-Bissau? GEN. WARD: Well, that’s why their regional cooperation is important. That’s why our work in helping them increase their capacity to do that – from training to equipping – and yes, we do have programs that assist in training and equipping these nations, as well as coordinating what we do with that same effort being done by other international partners? MR. BEN YOUNES: Only training, or training and equipment? GEN. WARD: Training and equipment. MR. BEN YOUNES: To fight drug trafficking, human trafficking, weapons trafficking? GEN. WARD: With their systems, increasing their capacity in their territorial waters, in their inland border areas through the training of their forces. In some cases, there are equipment requirements – not lethal equipment, but mobility equipment, logistics, so that they have greater capacity to be around their areas. Yeah. MR. BEN YOUNES: In a few minutes. What is your next agenda item on the Maghreb or sub-Sahara? GEN. WARD: Well, I don’t know if there’s a next agenda. The agenda that we are about – working with the Maghrebian nations, with their stability and security – is one that we look to continue to make better – to improve. There is no additional agenda, other than the agenda of helping promote stability in the Maghreb. MR. BEN YOUNES: Political question, at last. There is, in the public opinion, maybe, a wrong idea that the U.S. is planning to re-invite for to be again in the region as a kind of invasion through AFRICOM. Is this true? GEN. WARD: It is not true. There are no plans for any military activity, military presence in Africa – no plans to establish bases, no plans to establish garrisons and outposts of troops. Absolutely no plans to do that. MR. BEN YOUNES: Why? Maybe it would be useful? GEN. WARD: No plans to do it. MR. BEN YOUNES: Okay, but with unofficial-form facilities? GEN. WARD: Nope. We conduct exercises. We conduct training activities. But those are activities that we do in conjunction with our Maghrebian partners, and once the exercise is concluded and complete, we are gone and waiting for the next exercise or opportunity. No plans to permanently place – MR. BEN YOUNES: Even for the border in sub-Sahara countries? GEN. WARD: No. MR. BEN YOUNES: Thank you very much. Col Childress: Thank you. GEN. WARD: Thank you. (END)