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TRANSCRIPT: General Ward Welcomes 19 African, 5 European Regions at Africa Maritime Safety and Security Conference
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, hosted a conference attended by 19 African nations, five European nations and the U.S. October 13-14, 2010, at the Millennium Hotel in Stuttgart, Germany. <br /> <br />The two-day Maritime
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, hosted a conference attended by 19 African nations, five European nations and the U.S. October 13-14, 2010, at the Millennium Hotel in Stuttgart, Germany.

The two-day Maritime Safety and Security Towards Economic Prosperity Conference, co-sponsored by the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, concentrated on forging partnerships, identifying projects that support maritime security activities, and strengthening collaborative strategies.

Ward noted the importance of the conference as a venue for dialogue to collaborate and promote economic growth and prosperity across the continent of Africa and its island nations.

A complete transcript of Ward's remarks is below.

Let me start by welcoming everyone here to Stuttgart. And for some of you welcome back to Stuttgart as it turns out. Clearly, it is not the first occasion for many of you who are here.

(Side talk))â? But seriously, it is indeed a great pleasure to have you all here and to participate in what we think will be a seminar, a conference that will benefit all of us who are, in fact, here. This conference that you are participating in has been sponsored by the Department of State, our Department of Defense, and hosted here by U.S. AFRICOM and something that we have been looking to do for quite a while and were happy to now have this opportunity to in fact do just that. I would like to acknowledge and welcome those who have joined me here on the (inaudible) here this morning. And I'll just start from my right, your left as we create this mirror effect. Beginning with the Deputy Chair of the African Union and that is His Excellency Mwencha, great to have you here, sir. Next to His Excellency is our Department of State Assistance Secretary of State for Africa AMB Johnnie Carson and Johnnie great to have you here, Mr. Ambassador. And next to the Ambassador is another ambassador who is now the Department of Defense, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy for Africa and that is Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, Vicki great to have you.

Good morning to each of you. We are as going to as I say 'make some money' today and tomorrow and the next day. And if we don't make money then you don't get a chance to file your TDY voucher. So make money today, tomorrow, and I guess Thursday then you can file your TDY voucher and for those of my friends who may not have the English language as their first language I'll explain that you over the course of the next two or three days.

But it is really a great conference that we have an opportunity to participate in and seeing friends, partners, colleagues here is something that I'm so pleased to have the opportunity to do. There's also a very large delegation from the African Union who is here from Addis Ababa so let me especially welcome all of you today. We come here to engage in a dialogue, a dialogue about an important issue that affects all Africans and indeed affects the global community. It's a dialogue about Maritime safety and security and how progress in that area can positively promote economic growth and prosperity across the continent of Africa and its island nations.

And you say we are doing it here is Stuttgart there's no water here in Stuttgart. Well, that true, but the point is that the littoral countries in Africa are clearly directly affected by maritime security, but land locked countries are also indirectly linked because more than 90 percent of African trade is shipped by sea for the entire continent. We have a comprehensive array of knowledgeable stakeholders who are here this week: governments' officials, all branches of our government across the interagency, and I would like to acknowledge one of my former teammates here in AFRICOM, Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates, who is here from (the National Security Council) to represent the interagency aspect at that level. Now many of you know that I have a problem trying to indentify every notable who is here and if I were to begin I would invariably leave someone out. I made a special recognition of my (inaudible) I also acknowledged obviously my former deputy to the commander for civil military activities and I'm going to stop there. I am saved because of a gorgeous and wonderful African tradition that I have come to appreciate and love so much and so since each of you indeed is a dignitary I will simply say all protocol observed.

So welcome, welcome. Now, in addition to the fact that we have such a diverse grouping of folks here from so many different places I just want to highlight the fact that there are 19 African nations and 5 European nations also represented in this assemblage. And because of that diversity I am kind of reminded of a brief story. Not long ago I held a talk that was simultaneously being translated into Portuguese and French, and I opened my talk with a fairly amusing, I thought anyway, recollection of one of my recent trips. And although I thought the story was fairly funny, the audience just erupted in this grand roar.

I said, 'my goodness gracious I thought it was amusing, but not quite that funny', but any way I went ahead and delivered my comments and from my perspective it went fairly well. At the conclusion of it I made a point to go the translator because I know how difficult that job is and I asked the translator. 'Wow, the response to my story was really robust; what did you say?'The translator said, well, I couldn't translate your joke, so I just said, 'General Ward just told a joke. Now, everyone needs to laugh.' So some things translate fairly easily and others are not. I got a chuckle out of that one, too. Very ingenious fellow he was, to be sure.

I would like to take a few moments to highlight where the U.S. Department of Defense is playing a role in terms of Maritime Safety and Security. Essentially, our involvement exists when it supports United States foreign policy objectives and where the lines of our capability and the desire of our partners intersect. Our programs come about due from a need that's been identified by our partners, and remain in existence only when they prove successful. And in theses difficult economic times for all of us, marked by budget cuts and by competition for resources, we can only afford to keep those programs that surely reinforce the success that we all desire.

It goes without saying that protection of territorial waters and the Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ), just as the protection of land borders, is vital to the protection of the state, its economy and its people. Policing as well as protecting coastal waters resources ensures control over and national ownership of an enormous natural resource for all nations that are represented here today both individually and as neighbors. We should and must do what we can to protect this resource and hinder illicit activities that are happening in this domain. As a partner and where it makes sense, U.S. AFRICOM endeavors to answer our partners' calls for assistance, and to date, we have developed and continue to develop a variety of programs and activities designed to help coastal and island nations combat illicit activities, help them promote and protect resources their resources while promoting good order and discipline in their national boundaries.

Now, to get a bit more specific, let me highlight one of our better known programs: The Africa Partnership Station. Many of you in this room have direct knowledge, or involvement with this program. Starting in 2007, about the time that AFRICOM stood up this program resulting from a request, a request by a group of ministers of defense from Gulf of Guinea nations, that theme will resonate throughout what you will hear me say how this command does not impose itself, but indeed we respond to the request that we get through the relations that we build, through our dialogue, and through the partnering that we seek to have with those who seek to have and desire to partner with us and where that partnering supports US foreign policy objectives. Now, as I mentioned, in 2007, this program the African Partnership Station had its beginnings and it started with a one single United States Navy ship cruising the west coast of Africa providing tailored training, exercises, education, maintenance activities and partnership opportunities. As a result of the success of that initial program, we are now on our fifth iteration and have planned our sixth and seventh iteration and have expanded this program from the west now around to the east coast of Africa. APS is not a purely U.S.-Africa partnership program. Ships from the Netherlands, Belgium, France have taken all taken part. The international crews that have been on these vessels also create partners from as many as 7 of our European partner nations, and we work with the European Union as well as NATO countries as we continue to expand the involvement of our European and other partners in the African Partnership Station. Again, because that is what our African Partners have asked us to do. Now, as I speak, Her Majesty Ship OCEAN, a Royal Navy ship, is sailing along the west coast of Africa under the APS banner.

Exercise Phoenix Express, conducted this past May, included 9 African and 9 European nations operating in the Mediterranean focusing on maritime interdiction, maritime domain awareness, information sharing, search and rescue and interoperability. This annual exercise continues to grow and has highlighted the importance of working and training together in our common operating environment. The exercise helps us get to know one another, learn from one another, and develop solutions to common problems together.

Another program is the AFRICOM Maritime Law Enforcement Program we call is AMLEP for short. It is designed to build law enforcement capacity and enable our partners to deter illicit activities within their own Territorial Waters and their Exclusive Economic Zones. We seek to build institutions, and advise on legal processes where appropriate. Again this is not a pure U.S. military program; rather it is a cooperative program with involvement from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Coast Guard, and we're happy that we have the senior officer from the Coast Guard who is responsible for helping us do this with us at this conference, as well, and we hope that while you are here you get a chance to meet him.

Our Navy and Marine components, together with Coast Guard training teams, conduct numerous engagements with African Navies and Coast Guards throughout the continent. These engagements serve to familiarize maritime forces at all levels of competency and readiness with everything from strategies to counter illicit trafficking and piracy to safe operation of vessels in coastal waters.

Together, we have realized success through these partnerships, including regional and international coalitions, as well as bi-lateral relationships. Our experiences in Africa have reinforced the tremendous added value of cooperative efforts. The issues we unite against have global impacts and can be best improved through a combined effort that is indeed led by Africans.

Now, from the AFRICOM perspective, I can tell you as I have told you before that listening and learning to African perspectives has been and continue to be crucial. A phrase we routinely heard during earliest days of the U.S. Africa Command was 'African solutions to African challenges.' We agreed, still agree and we know that imposed strategies won't work. As my colleague His Excellency Mwencha mentioned to me the other day, taking ownership is what this is all about and I am happy to say that Africans (and) those nations and the institutions are taking ownership of these challenges. And I go back to a statement that I heard in 1996 from then President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, when he talked about the need for Africans to care for their own challenges, but with the help of our friends. And it is in that spirit that we do what we do.

I know that a lot of work is being done in the African Union to achieve an Africa-Wide Maritime Security Strategy. That kind of combined, deliberate approach is the kind of thing that I am talking about. Addressing the issues from a regional, or in this case, a continental point of view will encompass and hear from voices and ideas that will bring a rounded approach to solving maritime issues.

These are only a few things, these points that I have touched upon, but I think they help to indicate why this conference is indeed so important. Collaboration and the exchange of ideas; hearing different points of view from our partners -- I mentioned the government, the U.S. Government, interagency, non-governmental partners, private partners, all involved in trying to bring more stability in the vital regions of the littorals of the continent of African and its island nations.

I invite you to take what you hear, what you learn, back to your respective organizations and talk about the work that is being done in Africa's Maritime domain as well as work that is being done to preserve resources, protect infrastructure, develop infrastructure and set the conditions for economic advancement all because there is more stability and ability of nations to protect the sovereign territorial borders. As I have mentioned, I'm joined this morning and we will hear from others of my teammates that are here, but again His Excellency Mwencha, AMB Carson, AMB Huddleston -- all the work that is being done by them in the policy and diplomacy arena pertaining to Africa day in and day out -- I just thank you both for sponsoring this event and for providing the Africa Command the opportunity to host what we think will be a very, very important, important step as we continue to (inaudible) Maritime domain awareness. So with that, I will stop and turn the floor now over to your sponsors beginning with AMB Vicki Huddleston. Thank you very much.