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TRANSCRIPT: Ward Speaks at U.S. Army Africa Change of Command Ceremony
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, provided remarks at U.S. Army Africa's change of command ceremony in Vicenza, Italy, June 10, 2010. During the ceremony at Caserma Ederle's Hoekstra Field, Major General David R.
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, provided remarks at U.S. Army Africa's change of command ceremony in Vicenza, Italy, June 10, 2010. During the ceremony at Caserma Ederle's Hoekstra Field, Major General David R. Hogg assumed command of U.S. Army Africa. See related article: Major General Hogg Takes Command of U.S. Army Africa The complete transcript of Ward's remarks is below: PART I -- Introduction It is a tremendously happy moment to be here back at Caserme…it's great to be back here. Parliamentarian Berlato, Parliamentarian Calearo, Prefect Fallica, Mayor Variati, Lieutenant General Marioli, Lieutenant General Iadanza, Rear Admiral Piroli, General Ham…Christi, Consul General Perez, Distinguished Authorities, Soldiers, US civilians and families living in the footprint of Army Garrison Vicenza, Ladies and Gentlemen, "all protocol observed", many thanks for joining us today. Your presence speaks volumes of the important relationships we share with our partner nations and U.S. military partners with whom we collaborate. I very much appreciate your support of the security capacity-building efforts that we strive to sustain as led by United States Army Africa. I would like to acknowledge General Garrett's lovely wife Kim. I thank Kim for her support and the sacrifices she and their son have endured to allow Burke to do what he has done so effectively as initially U.S. Army Southern Europe Task Force Commander and then U.S. Army Africa Commander. Of all his bosses, you are the one that matters most. This change of command highlights the establishment of the Army's newest Service Component Command headquarters under Burke's guiding hand. It seemed like yesterday, but it has already been eighteen months since the early December 2008 announcement in Rome by the U.S. Ambassador to Italy and the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs that United States Army Africa would be established here. In that short time, the command has formed, grown, and matured into an active and effective outfit and has established strong strategic relationships with the ground forces in Africa while maintaining connectivity with our European allies and friends. In the Transformation Ceremony that followed later that month, General Garrett stated that, "…our decisions and our actions will establish the foundation that others will build upon in the years ahead." You were spot on, Burke. Under your leadership, this command has made great strides in engagement with the most senior African ground force leaders and their Soldiers. PART II -- Recognizing Success As you all know, "goodness" doesn't just happen. It takes leadership, vision, creativity, ingenuity, coordination, teamwork, diplomacy…and a whole lot of old-fashioned hard work…to attain the level of success and achievement that you all have realized. Burke brought clarity of vision -- his exact words "Be America's premier Army team dedicated to positive change in Africa." The opportunity for positive change is tremendous. Ever since the U.S. Africa Command was formed, political and military leaders on the continent have told me that the Africans want to make lives better for themselves and they want to be a part of the global community. They want to be able to provide for their own security and reduce their dependence on others. They want their militaries to be effective and respected by the people they protect. The role of turning those desires into action has been, as it should be, a strong cooperative effort between the combatant command headquarters and its service components. In the case of U.S. Army Africa, Burke and his team had to pull "double duty", getting the command organized for the mission and conducting land force programs and activities at the same time. This involved the headquarters and staff growing from about 180 military and civilian positions, more than doubling in the last 18 months to over 400 current staff positions filled -- with more coming -- and expanding capabilities in order to conduct sustained security engagement with Africa Land Forces, support ongoing operations in the U.S. Africa Command Area of Responsibility, provide support to U.S. Army personnel in Africa, and provide a contingency headquarters in support of crisis response. U.S. Army Africa not only succeeded, they excelled. In fact, they thrived on the opportunities they were given. Let me talk about some examples of the positive change that this headquarters brought about. Foremost was Exercise NATURAL FIRE 10, US Army Africa's first major exercise. This exercise integrated militaries from the countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, and the United States to prepare for responding to future complex natural and humanitarian disasters. Let me give you a great example of this regional cooperation. Burundi, one of the smallest countries in Africa had to travel the farthest to participate in NATURAL FIRE. Driving in a convoy, they reached the Rwandan border where they were met by their friends, something inconceivable ten years ago when these respective nations were not on the friendliest of terms. They had a great meal, camped out overnight and their Rwandan partners joined them in their convoy on their way to Uganda. When they got to Ugandan border, they were met by their friends, the Ugandans. They again shared a great meal, camped out overnight and all three nations proceeded on to the exercise site. The exercise itself was an extraordinary success, but what made it so special, what made it world class, was this story of friendship and cooperation that would not have occurred if the conditions were not properly set -- if the hard work of building the relationships and fostering regional cooperation had not been done in advance. That was what US Army Africa did that caused this exercise to add value to the efforts of the nations of that region to build their security capacity. The second example I want to give is very recent, the hosting of the first-ever African Land Forces Summit, "ALFS" -- a premier engagement event that brought together land forces chiefs of staff from African nations and military from the U.S. Army and other international partner militaries -- over 100 senior military delegates from 32 separate countries -- meeting to exchange perspectives and insights in order to turn cooperative relationships into enduring partnerships. Now, I highlight this event because it shows the degree to which this headquarters demonstrated its full commitment to working with the Africans. They could have chosen to simply hold a conference, at a familiar venue, with a good quality agenda and opportunity to exchange views in lively dialogue, and it would have been terrific. Instead, US Army Africa went all out, with the expressed purpose of giving African ground force leaders full exposure to the U.S. Army experience. They brought most of the staff with the participants to Washington so that our Army institutions such as the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA and the Combined Arms Center in Fort Leavenworth, KS among others could attend, participate, and fully engage the summit. And then, they packed everyone up and flew them down to Fort Benning so they could watch the U.S. Army in action, building our security capacity in the same ways we are offering to our African partners. And they visited the U.S. Infantry Museum, so they could learn about our history. I often say that what you do is important, but it is how you do it that matters. This first Land Forces Summit was energizing, invigorating, and from what I saw, a heck of lot of fun! It is not every day that you hear people mix the words "Summit" and "fun"! I assure you, our partners in Africa are going to be talking about that event for years to come. That they have expressed desires to host the next one is highly encouraging. I bet they try to top you, and if so, that will be a signal of how much they appreciated what you did. As the senior Army leader and Mission Commander for Italy in support of U.S. Army Europe, General Garrett had full responsibility for all Army communities in Italy. His keen insights to host nation perspectives and requirements led to excellent civil-military cooperation with the Government of Italy and coordination with U.S. Army Europe and the U.S. Embassy in Rome. And all know Burke Garrett takes care of his people. During his command tour, the level and quality of logistics support provided to our troops located at austere locations on the continent has improved vastly. He has responded to the needs and cares of over 8000 Soldiers, civilians, and family members in the Southern Europe Army community and successfully reintegrated the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and reset, and then redeployed yet again on another combat mission. At every turn, Burke has been personally involved in ensuring that the quality of life for our folks doing great work remains a highest priority. Now, this success and level of excellence does not occur without the support and commitment of a broad group with a great deal of talent. For General Garrett's Deputy Commanders -- Brigadier Generals David Elmo and Isaac Osborne; Chief of Staff COL Marcus De Oliveira; Command Sergeant Majors Earl Rice and Gary Bronson; and the entire US Army Africa staff -- you have done a superb job here...and you all are making "footprints" of which you should be justifiably proud. General Garrett is heading off to his next assignment as Chief of Staff, Multi-National Forces, Iraq, where he will continue to serve and lead with excellence. We wish you the very best, Burke. PART III -- Incoming Commander and Family Dave, you are the perfect follow-on to continue the work started by Burke, and there is no one more qualified to do so than you. Major General Dave Hogg comes to us following a year-long tour as the Deputy Commanding General, Combined Security Transition Command -- Afghanistan under OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. Just from the job title alone, you know that David has been on the front lines of building partner security capacity. Before then, he spent over two years as the Commander of the Army's premier overseas training institution, the Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwöhr, Germany. As you know, the JMTC plays a major role in preparing U.S. Army and joint forces for operations around the globe. Dave, Joyce and I along with the entire AFRICOM team offer you, Martina, and your sons Bryan and Aaron a hearty welcome and wish you success as you take command of this superb organization, and continue to build on the proud tradition that it has established. PART IV -- Best Wishes It's great to be here today to celebrate this noteworthy transition of authority and time honored tradition -- a change of command between two officers for whom I have great admiration. I join a chorus of many in wishing this new leadership, and all of you in ranks, all the very best of success in the days and months ahead on behalf of our partners and the citizens of the United States. Ciao and Mille Graci.