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TRANSCRIPT: Holmes Meets with Reporters at Counter-narcotics and Maritime Security Interagency Operations Center, Cape Verde
Even though Cape Verde is not widely affected by the flow of narcotics across the Atlantic, the West African island nation is still willing to devote its resources to helping reduce the flow of illegal trafficking, U.S. Africa Command's
Even though Cape Verde is not widely affected by the flow of narcotics across the Atlantic, the West African island nation is still willing to devote its resources to helping reduce the flow of illegal trafficking, U.S. Africa Command's civilian deputy told reporters while visiting a maritime security coordination center June 14, 2010.

Cape Verde has "a small military, which is appropriate for a small country. It is well-managed, it is well-focused. It is appropriately scaled for a country like Cape Verde. But it's efficient. It's effective," Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes told reporters. Holmes is AFRICOM deputy to the commander for civil-military activities. He met with Cape Verdean media while touring a maritime security coordination center in Praia. U.S. Africa Command helped to fund the Cape Verdean operated center, which is the first Counter-narcotics and Maritime Security Interagency Operations Center in sub-Saharan Africa.

See related transcript: Press Availability at the Cape Verde Ministry of Defense

Following is a transcript of Holmes's meeting with reporters:

Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command deputy to the commander for civil-military activities

Meeting with reporters; COSMAR Counter-narcotics and Maritime Security Interagency Operations Center, Praia, Cape Verde, June 14, 2010

AMBASSADOR J. ANTHONY HOLMES: I'm Antony Holmes. I'm the civilian deputy at the U.S> Africa Command, based in Stuttgart, Germany. What we do is, we work to assist the nations of Africa -- virtually all of them, in principle all of them -- although there are a couple that relations are strained with so that we don't have much of a relationship with, but we work with all of them to help the nations of Africa develop its own capacity to provide security and stability on the continent. So what we do as a small but important part of the broad u.s. government policy toward Africa, we work with other militaries, with African militaries and in some areas of civilian-military cooperation, for example, disaster response or that sort of thing.

And an important part to our military-to-military relationship and the focus of our partnership with the government of Cape Verde is in maritime activities. And so we try to assist the government of Cape Verde to improve its own control of territorial waters so that it prevents certain things from going on: trafficking and narcotics and other things -- in people -- as well as to exert maximum control of its own resources. So, for example, fisheries. So we have -- we regard Cape Verde as a first rate, really an excellent partner, very responsive. We have great admiration for the level of democracy and protection of human rights, openness, transparency, lack of corruption in your country. We view them as a mature partner. We are very pleased to become, really, partners so that we're not putting our agenda on Cape Verde. We're responding as the government of Cape Verde meets its own priorities in the ways that we can as the U.S. Africa Command, which is a small part of broad U.S. government policy, led by the White House and the State Department in Washington, D.C. So we have -- we implement. And we implement only in a narrow range of U.S. interests and U.S. activities, military-to-military primarily. And then occasionally we partner with other elements of the U.S government because we, by law, are limited to working with only the military. But military in any country is just a small part. It must be a broad integration of national competence, of national authority, so with the police, with the judicial system, with the coast guard, all of these are important elements in this protection and control of the space, the territorial space of Cape Verde.

Q: And what's your impression after this visit about Cape Verde military activity?
AMBASSADOR HOLMES: Well, the first thing is, I just arrived. I mean, I got here yesterday afternoon, and it was Sunday. So this is my first visit to a Cape Verdean facility or office. I was at the Embassy earlier this morning. But based on -- I mean, we have a lot of experience now, a number of years working with Cape Verde military. It's a small military, which is appropriate for a small country. It is well-managed, it is well-focused, it is appropriately scaled for a country like Cape Verde. But it's efficient. It's effective. And so we find the military here, we find the government here, to be excellent partners. I mean, they do what they can. They ask our assistance where they need help. You know, sometimes we can help them, sometimes we can't help them. We have many interests in many countries; our budget is limited, but we do our best to support the highest priorities of Cape Verde.

Q: Cape Verde is still a country where the traffic is going up, it's moving on towards Europe.

AMB. HOLMES: Right, we say a transit country.

Q: Is it still a transit country?

AMB. HOLMES: That is our understanding. I mean, always in narcotics you have leakage. In any system, you have movements. So if you look at Guinea Bissau, for example, you know you have a lot of spillover, spillage of narcotics there consumed by local people. This is true everywhere. It's true in Central America. I mean, this is just a fact, a reality of the international trafficking networks. And Cape Verde is a small country. It has few people. The impact of any leakage would be very negative. And that is part of the motivation of the government, to get control. But for us, from our perspective, what pleases us is that recognizing even that the problem -- that it is just a transit country, that the problems are largely in the receiving destination countries --it still is willing to be a good partner with us to devote its own resources as well: people, the military, the police, the justice system, to working together multilaterally with other partner nations to be part of the solution to the problem. That's very important. Because virtually every problem in Africa in 2010, in this globalized world, requires a multilateral solution. It must be regional approaches. Countries must work with their neighbors, with the rest of Africa, with their partners like the United States, like the European Union, European countries, and everybody contributes, everyone participates. And so we have in the United States also tried to take this concept of partnership, and work across the agencies of our government. So I'm from the State Department, but I'm in the deputy position in the military, the U.S. Defense Department, the U.S. military Africa Command. We have people from eight or nine different U.S. government agencies working there on this combined effort. And that's precisely the model that we want to see here in Cape Verde. We want to see the Coast Guard, the military, the Judicial Police, the National Police, the justice system, all working together here in this building, in this room and the room there and the room there [pointing to neighboring rooms in the facility] so that we bring -- so that we see the Cape Verdean government create a totality, a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. We see efficiencies because they're communicating and they're working together.

Q: Do you think there is any political will from the government of Cape Verde?
AMB. HOLMES: I believe so. We wouldn't be assisting them if we didn't believe that the political will was there. There's no question. Always you have issues of priority. Any government, any country has limited budget. But there's always more demand for budgetary resources than there is supply. It's always necessary as a partner government to sort of nudge the recipient government to do more itself. But the government [of Cape Verde] says the right thing, we see it doing the right thing, and we look forward to the government here as well as other partner governments that we have taking more and more ownership and control of these sorts of projects, these sorts of facilities, and us gradually stepping into the background as the governments of Cape Verde and the rest of Africa take over.

Q: One question. It more or less always has to be on stage, let me put it this way. Is it logical that AFRICOM Command in Africa, is still based in Stuttgart?

AMB. HOLMES: Oh, I think it's more than possible. I think it's likely. We have a policy basically that Africa Command will remain in Stuttgart through 2012. But I think that in reality the chances of it moving to Africa are zero, and I think there's some possibility, some discussion, maybe it could move to the United States. But then it is so far from Africa, with so many time zones, it becomes much more difficult to communicate and to coordinate. So, I mean, it's in Stuttgart because of an accident of history. It's in Stuttgart because after World War II the Allied powers were occupying powers of postwar Germany, a defeated Germany. And then gradually Germany was rebuilt, Germany reinvented itself, and NATO was created. And so 20 years ago we had many troops, big infrastructure militarily in Germany. And since the end of the Cold War, 1989, that's been reduced by roughly 75 - 80 percent. So we have all of these facilities in Germany we don't need any more. So in 2006, when we decide to create AFRICOM, and 2007 when it's in place, 2008 when it's formally operational, it's an easy issue for us to take the people who are in our European Command, who covered Africa before Africa Command was created, and just move them across town in Stuttgart to a different barracks, a different facility, and to base them there.
VOICE: We're going to have to go, I'm sorry.

Q: Last question.


Q: There is a partnership between Cape Verde and the European Union. There is a good relationship between Cape Verde and the United States. Do you think in the near future, two, three, four, five, 10 years, 15, 20 years, Cape Verde could join NATO?
AMB. HOLMES: NATO? All I can tell you is the European Union is very different from NATO. There is partnership, but ...

Q: There is a relationship of confidence between them all
AMB. HOLMES: To tell you very honestly, I'm not capable of answering that question. It's just not something that I've ever thought about before.

VOICE: I think it's just premature to ask that question. We're going to have to move to the ministry. Thank you very much.