Contact Us Press Releases AFRICOM Portal
TRANSCRIPT: Ward Addresses Africa Center for Strategic Studies 2010 Senior Leaders Seminar
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, addressed the Africa Center for Strategic Studies 2010 Senior Leaders Seminar June 23, 2010, in Lisbon, Portugal. <br /> <br />In his speech, Ward outlined how he and his staff have met
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, addressed the Africa Center for Strategic Studies 2010 Senior Leaders Seminar June 23, 2010, in Lisbon, Portugal.

In his speech, Ward outlined how he and his staff have met with African leaders across the continent and listened as they expressed their vision for regional security. U.S. Africa Command seeks to work with African nations to support this regional security vision, he said.

The complete transcript of the event is below:

AMBASSADOR WILLIAM BELLAMY: [In progress] (Applause.) More important than all of that is the fact that it was two years ago when Gen. Ward came to Lisbon and the conversation I believe he had here with Portuguese authorities that this idea of doing the Africa Center conference in Lisbon -- first arose in conversations with the Portuguese. And one of the first conversations that Gen. Ward and I had was about the possibility of having this conference in Lisbon.

And I'm very happy to say that planning actually led to a good result. So I think the fact that we're all gathered here today owes a lot to those conversations -- that original inspiration from Gen. Ward. So thank you, Gen. Ward, for being with us. Thank you for all your support for the Africa Center. It's a pleasure and we look forward to your remarks. (Applause.)

GEN. WILLIAM E. WARD: Well, for me, this is an absolute privilege. It's an honor to be here this morning and to be able to -- spend some time with so many of my -- and I hope I don't misuse this term -- but I'll say it, my friends -- my friends and partners whom I've come to know over, now, over four years of my time, being able to work, build relations, establish relationships with and strive to do our best to help bring stability to such an important part of the world.

To be here with you and to talk about those activities, ideas, those circumstances that impact our collective achievement of that to which we all can subscribe, and that is stability. It is a privilege. It is an honor, and I'm happy to be here with you this morning. Ambassador Bellamy, sir, thank you for that warm welcome.

It is truly a friendship between our organizations that I so, so cherish what the Africa Center does and its role of facilitating discussions, fomenting ideas, the work of helping to reinforce networks of distinguished individuals -- both uniformed and civilian, from the defense sector, from other sectors of our societies, such an important, important activity and work.

So sir, thank you for what you and your great team at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies does in that regard. And as Ambassador Bellamy mentioned, this is my first visit back to Lisbon in two years. And during that visit, I had a great opportunity to meet my good friend here, Gen. Ramalho who is the chief of the army staff here in Portugal.

And among other things, we did talk about, this conference being held here in Lisbon in June of 2010 and how the Portuguese would love -- wanted to -- were eager to support bringing this distinguished group back here to Lisbon to conduct this conference. And it has happened -- (chuckles) -- so sir, thank you and I thank your country for your wonderful hospitality, your wonderful welcome that we, all of us, have enjoyed from this time here.

And I envy you, because while I'm only able to take advantage of a day-and-a-half of his great hospitality, you've been here doing it, now, for almost two weeks. (Laughter.) And that's wonderful. So I don't know what you did, but I want to do it the next time. I want to be here for two weeks, too, just like you. (Laughter.) I guess by now, it's after 9 o'clock in the morning and I think the coffee has kicked in and you are all ready to go. As I said, I see so many of you here so for fear of leaving out someone that I shouldn't leave out, I have learned from my African friends very, very well. And that phrase -- at the first time I heard it -- I said, wow, what is that all about?

But I was listening to a presentation and an African was making the presentation and said, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, then he said, "and all protocol observed." So after that, I said, well, what does that mean? He said because I didn't know who I was going to talk to or acknowledge, so we say "all protocol observed," noting that each of you is indeed a very distinguished member, peer and my acknowledgment of your credentials. And so I said I like that. So all protocol observed. (Laughter.)

I would be remiss, however, if I didn't say a very special welcome to my good friend, Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, who I have the deepest respect for over many years of knowing him, watching him work on behalf of his country and also on behalf of the nations of Africa and indeed in doing so, the world community. So Martin, it's great to see you again. Thank you for your service.

And I envy him, too, because he now tells me he does a lot of farming (ph), as well. And among other things that he's done, that's something that's very, very special. I get an opportunity to address audiences from time to time such as this. And I have grown accustomed to beginning my presentations with something humorous. And I recall I would make the presentation not very long and go to an audience.

That was similar to this audience, being translated simultaneously into several languages, Arabic, French. And I started my presentations off with a joke and I presented my joke and after I'd finished my joke, the audience just roared -- ha-ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. I said wow, that was a -- I didn't know the joke was that good. (Laughter.)

And so I made my presentation and after I finished, I went to the translators. I said, well, you must have done a very good job of translating my joke. How did you do that so well with all languages? He said, General, I couldn't translate that joke. I just told them, hey, Gen. Ward just told a joke, now it's time to laugh. (Laughter.) So for fear of having one of those laughs this morning that may not be quite what it is, I'm not going to tell you a joke. (Laughter.)

And also because of -- we were translating. I'm going to do my very best not to be hard on the translators as well, so if you -- if I'm going too fast, just raise your hand and I'll slow down and do something to get you back on track here. Now, for what I witnessed last evening, as I was here with you as Assistant Secretary Carson delivered his comments, there's no doubt in my mind that this is a superb, superb gathering of distinguished officials from the various nations. I believe that Ambassador Bellamy told me that he had representatives from 39 African nations and organizations here at this seminar -- that's absolutely wonderful.

And so -- and based on the questions I heard you ask Ambassador Carson right after my presentation, I'm leaving. (Laughter.) Not really. (Laughter.) But what I would like to do is, to in fact follow up on some of Ambassador Carson's presentation. And he talked about the U.S. strategy for Africa, but focusing a bit more on some of the defense aspects as he laid out what he said -- based on the speech that President Obama gave in Ghana last year on how we, together, in partnership, can build a future where the African continent as a whole enjoys sufficient and self-sustaining stability, a theme that I will use from time to time. That's what it's about, and how we, in my role as the commander of U.S. Africa Command, can assist in that effort. It is our hope and it's our mission.

Now, I'll provide a couple of examples of how U.S. Africa Command activities have indeed been accomplished in support of those U.S. strategic objectives that Assistant Secretary Carson made out, but as importantly, how those activities are supportive of goals that Africans and the nations of Africa and their organizations have set for themselves.

And a theme that I want you to take from this presentation is a theme that says my command doesn't just do what Kip Ward wants it to do; it does those things that you have indicated a desire for us to do as we work together as partners to achieve objectives and goals that will lead to, hopefully, more stability on the African continent and doing that in a way that recognizes, respects and promotes the work being done by the very actors that operate in the environment.

First and foremost, the nations and themselves, their regional and continental organizations, members of my government, interagency, who also have interests, and our international partners and friends and doing it in a way that hopefully causes us to understand that environment, not just from our point of view, but also from the perspective and point of view of the partnership -- the partnership.

Now, last night, Assistant Secretary Carson provided a terrific overview of our grand strategy for Africa on how the U.S. is approaching its engagement with the continent and its island nations. My aim is to focus on defense and security aspects, past and present. And then I will offer, for the purposes of dialogue, some perspectives on the future and the range of opportunities it presents.

Now, in Africa, we see a number of challenges. I know you have spoken about those to quite a significant degree over these past two weeks: security-sector reform, post-conflict transition, transnational crime and terrorism, among others. Now, there are violent extremists who are trying to disrupt government, terrorize people and impose their will over civil society.

There are ongoing peacekeeping mission in complex and difficult environments such as the African Union mission in Somalia, the United Nations mission in Darfur. There are also important political processes with security implications that we are monitoring such as the upcoming referendum on southern Sudan and the implications it can have regardless of outcome.

Now, you know these challenges are not limited to the threat of armed conflict. Nor can they be resolved through military means alone. At the same time, we do see tremendous opportunities with the emergence of the African Union, its regional economic communities. I noted very recently the economic growth that the continent at large has been able to sustain over these past -- (inaudible) -- years -- rates in the 5 percent level.

Even non-oil producing nations -- now, these are about 22 of them who've had sustained growth at about the 4 percent level over these recent economic times. That is absolutely fantastic. So as the continent continues to take steps to address this as well as other common security interests, we see great opportunities there. We see progress in the development of civil institutions that encourage proper, professional roles of the military within society. Now, while we still see occasions of extra-constitutional changes of power and other forms of unrest, we are overall optimistic about the future.

Ambassador Carson, last night, talked about the recent military coups -- clearly transitions of power, methods we do not subscribe to. Now, as the recently published 2010 national security strategy states, the United States values comprehensive engagement with partners to assist in addressing these challenges, leveraging available opportunities and pursuing mutual interests.

The strategy calls for an integrated approach across all elements of United States national power. Our diplomatic and developmental capabilities work to help prevent conflict, spur economic growth and strengthen governance. Our intelligence and law enforcement program work with partners to anticipate events, respond to crises and provide safety and security.

For our part, we in the United States military are charged with strengthening capacity to partner with our foreign counterparts, training and assisting security forces and pursuing military-to-military ties with a broad range of government. Now, there are several elements in the implementation of the defense component of this strategy.

Let me summarize some of those. One is the intent, as expressed in the national security strategy, for the United States to sustain a strong and capable military, ready to defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies and exhibiting the finest traditions of professionalism and service. The strategy repudiates any notions of retrenchment or isolation.

We are actively transforming our force structures, modernizing our equipment, pursuing the latest in science and technology, upgrading our doctrine, restructuring our training and professional military education and sustaining our readiness. Now, on the other hand, there is a strong push to reduce American commitment overseas in order to shift national efforts to other priorities such as domestic issues or reducing our national debt.

Now, this is an ever-present perspective in American politics; we saw similar movements after past conflicts and the Cold War. However, we should reduce -- and however that should occur -- we will remain vigilant and do our best to avoid leaving vulnerabilities such as those that were exposed to terrorists' attacks that we saw in the late 20th century, including Khobar Towers, USS Cole and of course, the attacks on our homeland on 9/11.

Now, this commitment to not have those vulnerabilities is reflected in that national security strategy, and there's considerable discussion about capacity-building in homeland security, intelligence and law enforcement. Now, it also is a basis for a third perspective -- our desire to work with willing and capable partners who will band with us to confront common threats and challenges.

We have experienced much success throughout our history through partnerships, including regional and international coalitions as well as bilateral relationships. Our experiences in Africa have reinforced the tremendous added value of cooperative efforts such as helping improve maritime safety and security in the African littorals, as well as other defense-sector reform initiatives.

The national security strategy calls upon us to continue that approach. After all, the dynamic, transnational and very adaptive nature of the common threat and challenges we face make it difficult for any one nation to address these threats alone. The U.S. military has been increasingly engaged in building the foundations for such partnerships. That is the predominant work of the United States Africa Command.

And we have developed and implemented tailored, high-quality programs and activities that many of our partners in Africa are finding very useful. Now, a core perspective, which the national security strategy strong emphasizes, is that the United States needs to balance the resourcing and application of all of its elements of national power.

Balance. This is hardly new -- we have been talking for a long time about the need to have an integrated approach to what we do. Using terms like the "whole of government," using terms like the "three D's" -- development, diplomacy, defense -- and how they are integrated. However, the process of putting more resources into our other government agencies such as U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Treasury, Agriculture, Energy, Commerce and others is complex and has many stakeholders.

Now, regardless of this, the U.S. military is a strong advocate of increasing the capacities and resources of these other agencies. Our Secretary of Defense Gates, in a recent Foreign Affairs article said this, and I quote, "The security sectors of at-risk countries are really systems of tying together the military, the police, the justice system and other governance and oversight mechanisms. As such, building a partner's overall governance and security capacity is a shared responsibility across multiple agencies and departments of the United States national security apparatus and one that requires flexible, responsive tools that provide incentives for cooperation," close quotes.

Now, the U.S. Africa Command has been operating under the spirit of this cooperation since our inception almost three years ago. Our mission statement as a command explicitly states that we work in concert with other United States government agencies and international partners. Our military mission and those of our interagency and international partners are mutually supportive and interdependent.

I believe we have demonstrated this very well in the way that we have conducted Department of Defense programs and activities on the continent. Not perfect -- not perfect, but we go above what we do with that goal in mind. A couple of examples: The African Maritime Law Enforcement Program. We call it AMLEP -- African Maritime Law Enforcement Program - a cooperative effort with the Department of Homeland Security helps to develop a full spectrum of partner maritime, naval and law-enforcement capabilities from monitoring and patrolling territorial waters to developing the institutions and capacities to process, seize illicit vessels and cargo, and successfully prosecute the violators.

Now, this successful program pursues a holistic view of security -- (inaudible). Other examples of partnership in countering terrorism, such as the trans-Sahara partnership program -- Ambassador Carson talked about it last night as a Department of State program -- 10 Sahelian nations. Its military operational component is Operation Enduring Freedom-Trans Sahara. And many of you nations who are here today represented participated in our most recent exercise, Flintlock.

The partnership, as I mentioned, comprises 10 African nations with an interest in building the capacity to combat violent extremism. The State Department facilitates the partnership but the participating nations are in charge. The participating nations determine the activities that are, in fact, pursued. Through Operation Enduring Freedom-Trans Sahara, we provide tailored training and equipment and conduct exercises, based on what the partner nations request. And while we encourage our solutions to be used in ways that support regional goals, as I said, given the transnational nature of that threat.

There was a time when vast oceans, great deserts, tall mountains would insulate us, would keep the bad actors on the other side. Those vast spaces, today, are the superhighways for those who would seek to do us harm. Now, this arrangement of a military operation, which is subordinate to a diplomatic program, helps encourage civil authority and lasting regional cooperation. Last night Ambassador talked; he also mentioned the East Africa Regional Strategic Initiative.

We, too, are very supportive of that endeavor. And our U.S. military leadership recognizes the value of security force assistance programs, like those we are conducting worldwide. For the past year, we have been working to ensure that a broader component of the U.S. military has the requisite skills, knowledge and attributes to do even more such programs to immerse ourselves culturally, to listen, to learn more about the needs and the requirements of our partners.

So that as we work with them in developing solutions and programs, they truly add value to the capacity of our partners to provide for their own security, which is what you have told me you want to do. Listening and learning about your requirements from your perspective has been crucial. A phrase that was routinely heard in the early days of the U.S. Africa Command was, "African solutions to African challenges." We agree, and we knew, from our experience that us coming up with our own ideas and imposing them just doesn't work. We needed to know your perspective in order to work with you, our partners, in helping develop African solutions.

After hundreds of engagement with African political and military leaders, and members of civil society, I found that there were several common themes that, together, describe what the Africans wanted, in the long term, for their security sector. I call it a security vision for Africa, as expressed by Africans. Now (inaudible) Africa is big. There's not just one Africa -- got it. Got it. (Laughter.) Four pillars of this vision, however, I believe, were pretty universal. If you don't agree with me when I finish, let me know.

The first pillar that the Africans described to me, as I summarize, was the notion of having capable and accountable military forces -- capable and accountable military forces -- that perform professionally and with integrity. Secondly, that those forces are supported and sustained by effective, legitimate and professional security institutions that ensure proper civil authority over the military and ensure the readiness of the military by programs in place to care for them.

Third, that these militaries have the ability and will to exercise the means, nationally and regionally, to dissuade, deter and, where necessary, defeat transnational threats. And fourth, that they have the capacity to increase their support to peacekeeping operations globally, but in particular, on the African continent. Many Africans that I've spoken with see this as an important signal of the continent's importance in global -- in the world's global security environment.

Now, to work best, the environment that we live in would be sufficiently free from political violence that permits or enables the pursuit of those four pillars. We recognize that some hotspots are present, talk about those -- and I'm sure there will be some questions about those in a bit. They may flare up for one reason or another, be they historical conflicts or others. The ideal is that any crisis that arises is contained sufficiently so that it will enable the restoration of stability and the good work that was done can be resumed, and other parts of the continent are affected in the most minimum way.

Now, I've referred to this African security vision for about 18 months, now. And it's been well-received by African, U.S., as well as other international audiences. It's served its purposes, but I think it's time to relook, we carry this vision forward to offer an updated based on my continued engagements, and inspired by President Obama's recently published national security strategy, and Secretary Gates' recent works, such as the article in Foreign Affairs that he titled, "Helping Others Defend Themselves."

It's also inspired by the evolution of U.S. Africa Command's programs and activities, as we work to help build security capacity with our African partners. Now, let me start with capable and accountable military forces, and extend that thought in two ways. I believe what we are truly seeking are capable and accountable, self-sustaining security forces.

Now let me address the extension of military to security forces first. This includes the alignment and professionalization of the military with the police, border patrols, customs, judiciary and other elements of the partner security sector so that they are integrated and effective against the various threats that they face.

I'm not saying that we do all that, but I did talk about the role that other parts of our interagency, as well as other international actors, have in that challenge. I gave you an example of the African Maritime Law Enforcement Program, our cooperative maritime law enforcement program with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. As for 'self-sustaining,' I mean having available sufficient enabling capabilities that permit partners to conduct military operations with minimal need for outside assistance.

What enablers am I referring to? Intelligence -- having the ability to see and understand the zone of operations, to share information rapidly across the force. This is especially true in peacekeeping, as well, with the forces distributed over a wide area, the antagonists is equally dispersed, and coordinating attacks. But intelligence sometimes gets misunderstood to mean espionage, spies -- not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about having a good sense of what's happening on the ground, in the maritime domain, airspace awareness, and the ability to share that with all who work together to defeat those enemies of peace operating in that space. The intelligence forces and programs that we have conducted in Africa are designed to encourage collaborative information sharing among regional partners, as it builds trust and mutual understanding.

Communications -- another enabler, having a network among key locations in Africa to plan and conduct operations from the African Union in Addis to its regional economic communities, to the participating, contributing -- troop-contributing nations. Communications. Logistics -- supplies, food, fuel, reliable pay mechanism -- all important, important, important.

Engineers to make terrain safe and usable for operations as well as other activities. For example, our training effort in de-mining to make land available for further development. A professional officer corps, but equally important, a professional non-commissioned officer and warrant officer corps -- equally important, equally important. My command senior enlisted leader, Command Sergeant Major Ripka, has been working hard to promote the role of senior non-commissioned officers and warrant officers in their respective militaries.

Now, we look at this and we see the various pillars. The second pillar can be similarly extended to effective and legitimate professional security institutions such that that civil authority over the military correlates to a broader civil provisioning of security. Defense-sector reform is the one type of institution-building, in an effort with the U.S. works with the host nations to help transform its defense ministry, as well.

We currently only have one such effort underway, and this is considered an exception, rather than the rule, I might add. More commonly, our activities enhance existing civil-military relationship so that the defense sector is more effective as an integral part of the overall security sector.

Therefore, we work closely with other U.S. government agencies to pursue joint programs and activities that are appropriate for the partner nation. They can include developing doctrine that governs how forces conduct operations consistent with partner-nation policies, that include identifying facility and infrastructure requirements to support partner training, sustainment, educational needs, can include ensuring command and control and information flow.

Extending the third pillar can be based on our notion of the ability and will to dissuade, defeat and deter transnational threats for the current and future. I think we would agree that our capacity-building centers around dealing with the current array of threats, such as building counterterrorism forces to confront today's violent extremists. But there are already new transnational threats at work in other places around the world that can adversely affect Africa as they develop. And we need to work together to get ahead of these threats.

The fourth pillar -- the ability to support international peacekeeping efforts -- is very important. But I would propose substituting the word "support" with "lead." This is because many of the Africans who suggested this pillar to me saw the visible contributions to peacekeeping efforts, as a sign of significance on the global stage. And there are those who are standing up to lead today. More are required. More are required. And I would note the leading role of Uganda and Burundi and Somalia. How wonderful if two, three or four other nations joined in that effort, African nations joined in that effort.

I'm certain that a number of willing and capable nations may be over-burdened, that other nations may be capable, but have insufficient incentive to help out. One of the things that I note is the disparity between levels of pay to U.N. and AU peacekeepers. I've talked about that -- can't do much about it personally, but clearly promoting that discrepancy.

I'd like to talk about this notion of pursuit of leadership quickly by saying I think this can bring about the necessary dialogue to develop a vision of what the continent can provide in terms of peacekeeping capabilities - of recruiting, training and educating, sustaining, commanding and controlling, and employ peacekeeping forces, that leverage the full breadth as well as the diversity of the African people.

So assuming that we have achieved consensus in an African security vision, what's next? How do we move ahead? And this is the part where we get to exchange a lot of questions, and not necessarily produce the answers. Creating a vision statement is easy, compared to operationalizing it -- building a well-defined strategy with ends, ways and means.

Now, there are already efforts underway to develop strategies to build capacity in certain domains, such as the African Union's pursuit of a theater-wide maritime security strategy, the African Standby Force and its five brigades that make capacity-building effort to provide crisis response, taking traction in several places.

But what is the total package of enablers and institutional capacities needed to make it self-sustaining? Therefore, where can the U.S. or other partners help? Logistics, sustainment, intelligence sharing, communications? What is the balance between the needs of the sovereign nations of Africa to defend and secure their own territories and the needs of the continent to collectively address transnational challenges?

The need for interoperability and cooperation, commonality among laws, ethics, procedures. How do we incentivize broader participation in the realm of regional security, so we avoid over-reliance and over-commitment on the small number of nations who are most willing? What do we do about fractured, fragile states about to implode? Contain them? Intervene? Who decides? How do we prioritize the way ahead, knowing that the resources to do it all is not available? Who decides on that priority? Does the way ahead account for the expected changes in demographics as populations on the continent of Africa are projected to almost double over the next 50 to 75 years? And the evolving nature of these transnational threats.

Now, what does ultimate success look like and how do we measure progress towards it? What tools can be used - like conditions-based road maps that track progress at each step, or compacts like those with the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which has been very successful in encouraging and incentivizing good governance. Most of these questions are best answered by you, by Africa. We have a vested interest in their resolution, to be sure, because Africa's security challenges have global impact, and therefore, are of U.S. national interest.

We also stand ready to assist in ways consistent with our U.S. foreign policy objectives. But I firmly believe, and always have, that the best approach is for Africans to determine the best solutions for themselves, and we play a supporting role in helping you achieve those objectives. My boss, the secretary of defense, and his boss, the president of the United States, all agree that, as you know, in Africa, the political, economic, social and environmental factors that influence security often outweigh the military aspects.

And for these past two weeks, you held dialogue on many of those factors, including the rule of law, competition for natural resources. We heard discussion about climate change, one of the things that President Obama pays close attention to, and its impact on security, food insecurity, how that has led to conflicts, global conflicts. All these factors to be considered as we establish reliable security institutions. As we continue to move ahead together, as partners, it is my fervent desire that we do work in ways that cause that, that I began talking about -- stability, stability -- to be more prevalent than not.

And for that stability to occur, it requires healthy doses of security. It requires healthy doses of development across the spectrum -- economic, social, health. It requires healthy doses of good governance, diplomacy, such that the people see that their government is working on their behalf more so than the behalf of those who are fortunate to be sitting in positions of power. That is our collective responsibility. That's what we, as United States Africa Command, seek to partner with you in doing, we, not to do it all, but we --certainly understand that for it to work, they need to be working as harmoniously and coherently as possible.

That's the charge of the command. Our programs, our activities, our exercises, our military-to-military relations that we have at the bilateral level, at the regional level, at the continental level designed to do that. We're not perfect. We want to listen to you, understand. My promise, my pledge is that as we work to get there, we will always be cognizant of your thoughts, your perspectives so that these solutions that we, in fact, do achieve are lasting solutions because they are your solutions.

Proud to serve with you; proud to be a partner with you. And thanks for spending some time listening to this old, gray-haired soldier talk about something he doesn't know anything about. Thanks very much. (Laughter, applause.)