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TRANSCRIPT: Ward Addresses African Land Forces Summit
<i>General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, addressed a group of senior military leaders from 32 African nations, May 17, 2010, at the African Land Forces Summit. <br /> <br />"We intend for this first African Land Forces Summit
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, addressed a group of senior military leaders from 32 African nations, May 17, 2010, at the African Land Forces Summit.

"We intend for this first African Land Forces Summit to be just the beginning of many more to come where we can gather on a regular basis to share ideas," Ward said. "We want to ensure the programs and activities we conduct on the continent of Africa are helpful in building your military capacity in ways that support your regional and national interest."

See related article: Ward Underscores America's Commitment to Advance Security, Stability and Peace in Africa

The complete transcript is available below: GEN. WILLIAM E. WARD: I cannot begin to tell you how absolutely thrilled we are to be here. I say "we" because my partners travel with me, my lifetime partner. You know, when Gen. Garrett said, "Almost 40 years," Joyce quickly corrected him. At least to me, she said, "Almost 39 years," because she's been with me for all of those years. (Applause.) Now not at every place because I've been some places that -- (chuckles) -- that kind of -- (chuckles) -- but it is indeed a privilege, a pleasure, a joy to be here with friends, colleagues, partners and those who see the responsibility that we have as nations in doing things that will cause the future to be better, not for us who sit here this evening but for those that come behind us: those children, grandchildren, and yet-to-be-born youngsters, such that what we do today prepares a world for them that will enable them to be -- and in that old, not-so-popularly used term any more -- but to allow them to be all that they can be. VOICES: Hooaah. GEN. WARD: That's a big deal. It doesn't matter what uniform you wear, what battledress you put on. But having a vision, having a goal, having a desire that those who would come behind us have an opportunity to be all that they can be is something that I think we all would agree on. And quite frankly -- and pardon me; I'm a soldier and I got to say what I think; sometimes it gets me in trouble. But quite frankly, if you don't feel that way about what you're doing, then you ought not be doing what you do. Because goodness knows none of us is paid for the work we do in monetary terms to the degree that equals the level of effort. So we must be doing it for other reasons; and the reasons we do it, I think, are reasons that are beyond self, that are beyond personal gain, but are reasons that indeed serve the good of our respective nations and by so doing, serve humankind. It takes special people to do that. Not everyone has that same commitment. But to be sure, thank God there are men and women who see a world as it is and say to themselves, what is it that I can do that might make it a bit better for those who would come behind me? So I start off this evening by acknowledging you, my teammates, and thanking you for your decision to serve: your decision to serve in selfless ways that will lead to a future that will provide an opportunity for those who come behind us to indeed be all that they can be. So please give yourselves an applause. You are a rare breed. (Applause.) Now, being a commander, an officer with almost 39 years of service, I've learned a couple of tricks along the way -- one or two. And one of those is to get a sense of what has gone on before you get in there. You don't want to get to a place and everything that you find out about it you're learning for the first time. So I kind of had my scouts out: tell me what's been happening at this very first African Land Forces Summit. How has it gone? What are the reactions? What are our partners saying about this event? Bert Garrett, you done good, buddy. This has been, by all measure, an absolutely fantastic occasion -- and I'll talk a bit later about why I think it's so. We just were -- I won't call it "entertained;" we were just able to bear witness to a group of professional soldiers who are also talented musicians, who were here to help us celebrate this week's long worth of events: the Strolling Strings of the United States Army. So although they have left the room, they were absolutely fantastic, magnificent. So if you would just join me one more time in congratulating them and thanking them. (Applause.) It is an honor to speak to such a distinguished group as you who are here. I see so many African partners who are represented here; friends who I've met now over these past, in some cases, almost 15 years, as I've kind of dipped in and out of the African continent, but for the last four years, to be sure, in some pretty consistent ways. It's great to see you here. Over 32 nations here at this summit. Over a hundred delegates: chiefs of land forces, other representatives, who have met here with our other friends from our U.S. Army component in Vicenza, commanded by my -- I call him my puppy -- Bert Garrett and I'll tell you how long I've been knowing that guy: friends from the Washington, D.C., region, OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense], and the Department of the Army to be sure. So with all of you who are here, as well as those who are no longer with us this evening but have been in and out, I'd like to offer what I consider the highest compliment that I can pay to each of you who are indeed, in my eyes, distinguished guests -- very important persons, and to use the words of the African tradition, when if you start naming one, you might forget someone: All protocol observed. -- (laughter) -- Because truly each of you is a distinguished individual. As Major General Garrett and the United States Army Chief of Staff, General George Casey have said, we intend for this first African Land Forces Summit to be one that is just the beginning: the beginning of many more to come where we can gather together on a regular basis to share ideas and to allow us -- and both United States Army Africa as well as United States Africa Command -- to listen and to learn from you. We want to ensure the programs and activities that we conduct on the continent of Africa and these island nations are helpful in building your security capacity in ways that support your regional as well as your national interest. You've heard from some distinguished speakers to this point. I know my friend Martin Agwai is somewhere here tonight -- Martin, thank you, sir, for staying around. Let me see -- Martin, raise your hand, buddy! There you are. Okay, sir, there you are. I know you had a visit today earlier from General Patrick, two commanders -- force commanders -- who provide immeasurable insight into that difficult, difficult mission. You've had the various representatives speak to you. Tomorrow you will leave -- and I even hate to say this because I'm not going to be with you -- you're going to Fort Benning, Georgia. We need to just stand and give homage to that. (Laughter.) Fort Benning, Georgia: The home of our Combined Maneuver Center now that used to be the home of the infantry, but we all change; we all transform; we all adapt to a changing environment. That's what even today the United States Army is doing: adapting to changing environment. And you will see a lot of that when you visit Fort Benning, Georgia, tomorrow. That place has been very instrumental in my professional development as a career officer from the very beginning, 39 years ago, just about. Now, I know my time's getting short here so I'm going to be mindful. It's late; I've been set up; you've had a great day, a wonderful meal and the Strolling Strings, then Garrett says, Ward, go talk. (Laughter.) Roger that. So I know I'm on the short end of the stick here. So I would like to address a few things, though, in a short period of time that I have. Now one of them is to talk a little bit about where U.S. Africa Command has been and how we are moving forward in forming strategic relationships with our African partners and in building security capacity. Those of you who have heard me speak or have met me in my many travels to Africa know that building security capacity has been a theme of mine since before the command, now over two-and-a-half years ago. My message doesn't change. I'm an infantryman: I command infantry soldiers. If you want them to do something, got to tell them the same thing over and over and over again. Don't get too complex here. You have messages that resonate and hopefully they internalize and you move forward. Within U.S. Africa Command, the establishment and maturation of our Army component, the U.S. Army Africa, is a significant step in helping us improve our ability to deliver programs, training, exercises and other activities that support the achievement of your security objectives. In this regard, I am proud of the job that Major General Burt Garrett and his team are doing to convert what was a tactical headquarters to a service component command headquarters, chartered with planning and implementing programs of a land force nature in such a short time. Now, our focus at this summit is discussing ways to foster regional cooperation and collaboration against the various regional and transnational threats that are present in Africa. Previous speakers have discussed the preexisting colonial borders and the challenges they present in addressing the threats. Because many of these threats defy borders. They find safe havens in under-governed spaces and make use of modern information technologies. They have the ability to respond and extend themselves globally. Deterring and defeating many of these threats cannot be done by a single nation alone but through the combined and harmonized efforts of partners, neighbors and friends, we can do things more than any one of us singly could ever accomplish. An important step in making that happen is in fact bringing partners together to share perspectives and engage in constructive dialogue so that we can listen and learn from each other. Now let me offer my perspective of what I have heard from uniformed and civilian leaders on the continent and much of what I suspect is being said at this summit. Later, during the question-and-answer, we can explore these points any way you wish. What I've been told is that African nations want capable and accountable militaries that can protect their national borders and their people and that can export security in the region, across the continent and internationally in peacekeeping missions. By "capable," they desire trained and ready forces that operate effectively and can sustain themselves in conjunction with other military partners and regional organizations. By "accountable," they desire for the forces to be subordinate to civilian authority -- a key tenet not new to Africa. Those of you who have studied history will know that in the early 1950s, one of our most famous generals, Douglas MacArthur, as he thought of what the United States of America ought to be doing in the Pacific, was told by the president of the United States, I don't think so. Go sit down, General. President Harry Truman -- because our Constitution calls for militaries to be subordinate to legitimate, civil authority, as the people would demand. They want militaries to employ that authority in appropriate ways, balancing the mission requirements with the principles of proportionality and restraint so that the forces operate in accordance with the rule of law and respect human rights. We can talk about a few places on our continent that don't always live up to that, also forces that strive to be as professional as possible, with attributes and values that enhance their standing among members of civil society. Now, you've told me, as I've traveled around the continent, that you have goals for your militaries: to take care of the service members and their families and to root out corruption and other impediments to morale, discipline and readiness. Self-sustaining and professional forces with the support of people and their governments helps nations become peace providers. Peacekeeping forces trained to work together in combined operations can greatly enhance regional and transcontinental security in addition to achieving their own national security objectives. Now, as it's suggested by the objectives of the stand-by brigades in each of the five regional economic communities that you have established, we clearly are supportive of those efforts. We fully support those goals and look to help enhance their capability wherever we can. Forces that can interoperate with other elements of the security sector such as customs, border patrols, police, coast guards -- you know the rest. All of these are deterrents against transnational threats such as the ones that are found in places on the continent of Africa. Cooperation in defense and peacekeeping is most certainly an aspect through which Africans can help Africans. As we move ahead, we look forward to how we can be a part of that process. So let me talk a little bit about building security capacity and then I'll follow with how U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Africa approaches that at the joint level. Now, Secretary Gates said it very well: It is about what we do to help our partners defend themselves and protect their people and their borders. From my perspective, these partners can mean individual nations, neighboring nations working together, regional organizations like the regional economic communities as I have just mentioned, or the African Union as a whole. And from what I've seen in Africa, a spirit of cooperation is growing in a very strong and effective way. The fact that all of you are here together is a strong signal of that. I might note that some of your neighbors are not here. You need to work on them. I'll offer another example. Just this year, we carried out, under the lead of United States Army Africa, an exercise that brought together five nations in a region. Now having put aside past disagreements in the interest of regional security, these nations came together to conduct an exercise. The exercise paid big dividends as barriers continue to break down and increased understanding took hold where distrust had previously existed. The skill sets that were honed during this exercise were put into practice soon afterwards, as a humanitarian disaster scenario occurred that was similar to the one that was conducted during the exercise. Nations were able to take lessons learned from the exercise in dealing with a crisis situation without calling for international assistance. To me, that is an example of what success looks like in building security capacity. But this comes from listening to and learning from our partners. We realize that every partner is different and programs and activities that work well in one nation or one part of Africa may not work well in another. We also know that your perception of your environment and your needs differs from ours. We do not and will not impose our solutions or ideas on you. Instead, we will work to ensure our solutions address what you say you need, so long as we can do it in ways that support our United States foreign policy objectives. The key to our approach is sustained security engagement. We place emphasis on the importance of building relationships and being with you over the long term, turning the short-term benefits of our activities into lasting benefits that bring progress towards your long-term objectives. Those are in the interest of the entire global community. This is why I place a great deal of emphasis on reinforcing success. When we complete an activity, our goal will be to follow up on that to ensure that the benefits are sustained. We look for opportunities to conduct follow-on activities that indeed reinforce those benefits. As programs seem to be proven successful in one region and where there are opportunities to export them to another region, with your advice, counsel and guidance, we will do so to increase participation, to bring more partners together and helping to reap the benefits that we can mutually achieve. Now let me offer another example of this: the exercise Africa Endeavor. It originated a few years ago -- in fact at the time, I was a deputy commander at United States European Command. It started out as a communications interoperability exercise. Because of its success and the continued commitment that U.S. Africa Command has placed on it, it has grown in both scope and participation. This year, over 30 African nations and organizations, regional organizations and the African Union, are planning to participate in this year's edition, which is going to be much more than just a scenario-driven exercise but also including a table-top exercise that encourages common understanding and collaborative solutions to communications, command and control. Now, if time would have permitted, I could offer dozens of examples of successful programs and activities that we have expanded to address various challenges: challenges of illegal trafficking in drugs, people, weapons, challenges that exist where violent, extremist organizations threaten innocent populations and innocent people and many, many more. Maybe some of those will come up during our question-and-answer; I'd be happy to talk to them. But what we have done as we have expanded our programs has been done because we have endeavored to listen and to learn from you in how these programs can better fit your requirements for enhanced security capacity. As we move forward beyond this summit -- and let me offer that challenges aren't unique to the African continent. You know, my nation had a very, very big challenge in the 1800s, resulted in a fierce, fierce, bloody civil war. But out of that, we emerged much stronger. But the work goes on still today. So this business of getting better -- to use the term that I use with my team quite a bit, working every day to improve the foxhole is something that we all face. And we all look forward to working together to make those challenges a thing of the past, knowing that working together we can in fact do that. As we move forward beyond this summit, let me offer some food for thought and perhaps some ideas that might be beneficial to our programs and activities that we are now conducting or planning to conduct that some of you may not be aware of. Perhaps some of these comments may spur additional engagement ideas that you can discuss with either AFRICOM or the team at U.S. Army Africa. Now, our model follows three broad categories that were very well-expressed by our secretary of defense, Robert Gates, in an address that he made earlier this year. The categories are building operational capacity, building institutional capacity and growing human capital. Now, each of these is more than the title suggests. When many people think of operational capacity, first thoughts come to clear and obvious measures of training troops, equipping them with rifles and other individual kit, purchasing trucks, tanks, patrol craft. But there is more to it than that. If the goal is for African militaries to have the capacity to conduct operations independently, then these necessitate capacity-building among several key enablers: Intelligence, necessary to develop an understanding and analysis of the situation so that when you deploy your forces, they have the best chance of doing what in fact you asked them to do. Logistics, transportation and supply to ensure that service members have all that they need to do what we've asked them to do. Engineering efforts to help prepare the environment in whatever ways may be required. Medical support, communications support, command and control. I can go on; you know this. Robust enabling capabilities are force multipliers and are a big part of the long-standing success that the United States military, in particular the United States Army, has enjoyed. We have ongoing programs with several nations pursuing the development of their operational enablers: demining training that clears old battlefields, development of the communication backbone at the African Union under the Peace Support Operations Center, the military intelligence basic officers and noncommissioned officer courses. NCOs -- noncommissioned officers. We call them not just the backbone of our Army; they are indeed the sinew of our Army, the very fiber of our organization. Those who do the work -- how do we care for them? That's a big deal, teammates. We have other programs that deal with how we help build this capacity that I've talked about. I spoke before about the benefits of civil authority over the military, also important in professionalizing the force. When Secretary Gates talked about institutional capacity, he talked about causing that civil authority to produce tangible benefits that ensure the readiness of the force that provide the guidance that the force needs to do its work in legitimate ways. Benefits such as the availability of quality training, professional military facilities for schools, infrastructure that fosters the sustainment of military operations, depots, seaports, et cetera. The planning, the budgetary functions that ensure the deliberate and prudent expenditure of resources on national defense, where corruption is checked and resources flow to the appropriate places and not get siphoned off where they were not intended to be. Activities that are conducted such that there's transparency, where that transparency fosters trust with the people. And finally, in growing human capital. This is the instilling of the attributes and values that cause the military to be the highly effective force that we want it to be with high morale and seen as a respected part of the society. These are the functions, including inspectors general, that enforce adherence to professional standards, legal counsels that help enforce law and ethical behavior. It's mentorship programs that help guide commanders and leaders in preparation for unfamiliar, difficult and complex operational environments. And it is outreach -- call it public affairs -- that provides for open communications, transparency. All of these we are pursuing somewhere on the African continent. And many of what I've described only takes a small number of people with the right skills and experience to make a difference. Again, if I've touched on any topic that has spiked your interest, I'd be more than happy to discuss. In conclusion, I'd like to restate a few things that I consider to be very important. This is Kip Ward talking about what's important to him about how United States Africa Command interacts with you, our partners and friends. We want to listen, we want to learn from your perspectives. We want to support regional cooperation. And we want to be a partner in collaborating to address the challenges that you face because truly there are global challenges. We want to cooperate, we want to encourage the development of your security capacity in ways that encourages greater stability and good will towards your people. And we want to find ways to reinforce success as that is attained. My final point is that you are our partners, and I absolutely respect you and your perspectives. And not just Kip Ward -- this entire team; that's our approach. And in spite of what was said when we were formed, you have seen over the past two years how we do business, not dictating to you, not directing you, but listening to you and then doing our best to do those things that you have asked us to do as we work together to address these common challenges. What you say matters to me and we -- both the United States Africa Command and United States Army Africa are listening to you. I hope this summit is proving that to you. Again, thank you all for traveling some pretty great distances. If you were like me, I had to go all the way around the volcanic ash cloud today. Long way around that ash cloud. I even saw the ash cloud today. It's kind of reminded me of September 11th as I sat in the Pentagon as the vice director for operations and our world changed. Something happened that had never happened before. That volcanic ash cloud caused some changes to a lot of things; 9/11 changed who we are as a global society. Didn't start with 9/11. Quite frankly, it started years and years before. But as I sat in the Pentagon and began to do things as the vice J-3 on the Joint Staff to cause our nation to respond to a threat unlike we had ever seen before that still faces us today, we knew then as we know today that this is indeed a global threat. And along with the regional things that occur, we now have another activity that faces us and unless we as a global community work together, it will accomplish what it sets out to do. That is, quite frankly, to change our way of life, to stop events such as what you're participating in now from happening. No single nation can do the work to prevent that from happening by itself, mine included. So this global partnership is important. And going back to what I said at first, why? Not for us in this room, but if we are committed to this, for those who will come behind us, so that they can have an ability and opportunity to what? To be all that they can be. And that's what it's about. And I am so thankful that I have teammates such as yourselves helping us move forward in that common direction. So thanks for traveling these great distances, taking time out of your busy schedules to be here. But I know that this is a great step in a continuum of progress that we will make on behalf of all of our people. Thanks a lot and now I'll take some questions from you now if you have any. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.) No questions. Everybody wants to go to bed. (Laughter.) Now, we don't have to have any questions. I just thought I'd provide that opportunity. You know I have some microphones all throughout this hotel. And as you walk back to your rooms, you know, you start talking to yourselves and say, now, I wanted to ask Ward about this, but -- I'm going to hear that. (Laughter.) Not really. (Chuckles.) I guess there are no questions and that's okay. You know, there are, to be sure, I talked about challenges and I did not belabor them. Now, you know what they are, from Somalia to the Sudan, what's going on with these regional conflicts that exist -- the Congo, other places where there have been extraconstitutional forms of government changes, things that destabilize our societies. The good news is there are also great successes, successes that many of you from your countries represent here this evening. Successes of where governments work on behalf of their people, represent their people in ways that make sense to them and their cultures and those societies, where things are being done to advance the social status of your people, where things are being done to enhance the security of your people. When that happens -- when that happens across the continent and indeed or globally around the world, we all benefit. And just as the financial crisis, just as the volcanic ash happening in one place affects us all wherever we may be, so do these challenges and opportunities affect us all in a global way. So thank you for what you do to address challenges, but also thank you for what you do to reinforce success. We need partners. Thank you for being just that. God bless you. Enjoy Fort Benning. Everywhere you go, you guys will be smiling. Yeah, Ward, you're not there. Ha ha ha. (Laughter.) I wish I was there with you, but enjoy Fort Benning. I trust you had a great tour around the Pentagon earlier in the week. I hear you did. It's a big place. I served there three times and I still get lost. (Laughter.) And those who have come to address you, from our chief of staff of the Army winding up on Friday with our secretary of the Army, that's a statement -- a statement that says, you are important to us. And it has been only with the creation of your United States Africa Command and the focus and the attention and the priority that U.S. Army Africa provides in this new reorganized construct that is beginning to address that priority in appropriate ways. We are proud to do it, we are happy to do it and it is in our national interest to do it as good as we can do it and that's our commitment to you. Thanks very much. (Applause.) (END)
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