General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, discussed U.S. AFRICOM's role in supporting U.S. government efforts for stability and security in Africa with Robert Bosch Foundation members, October 7, 2010. Dieter Berg, chairman of the Board of Management of the Robert Bosch Foundation, opened the event with the following remarks: Dear General Ward, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome at the Robert Bosch Stiftung's home in Stuttgart. It is my honour to welcome tonight's speaker General Ward. General, it is a great pleasure to host you at the Robert Bosch Haus tonight. We know that you have a very busy schedule and we therefore feel really privileged that you have taken the time to speak to us about the United States Africa Command's role for international co-operation. Many people think of Africa as a continent of wars and disasters. The media underpins this impression with pictures of starving people and child soldiers. Violence, corruption, poverty, consequential emigration--to name only some of the greatest challenges of the African continent. Africa is often named as the lost continent but maybe we too often underestimate Africa's potential and the role it plays on the international agenda. Contrary to the common perception, Frank Mattern, CEO of McKinsey Germany, has foreseen the African continent as one of the most important growing markets in the near future. Moreover, the Soccer World Cup in South Africa had also demonstrated that Africa is capable of successfully organizing a global mass event. A stable and secure African continent is in the interest of African nations, the US, Europe and the international community. The US AFRICOM's mission is to coordinate and further develop existing US initiatives to provide support and security for African nations. How can peace and stability on the African continent be supported? How can African nations be enabled to avoid or - at least - to reduce conflicts? How does the US Africa Command operate and what is its role in the overall context of US efforts in Africa and worldwide? Ladies and Gentlemen, General Ward will certainly address some of these questions. General Ward holds one of the most high-ranking positions in the US Army. He is Commander of the United States Africa Command at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart and he is the first officer to hold this position. General Ward previously served as Deputy Commander of the U.S. European Command. His military service includes overseas stays in Korea, Egypt, Somalia, Bosnia, Israel, two stays in Germany, and a wide variety of assignments in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. He assumed his current assignment on October 1, 2007. General Ward, we very much look forward to getting first hand insights into the United States commitment on the African continent. Below are General Ward's prepared remarks: Part One--Introduction Distinguished guests and friends, It is a pleasure and honor to be here today. Es ist eine Ehre fur mich (heute) hier sein zu durfen . While you asked me to speak about Africa and my role, please allow me to first express my gratitude for the work you do. Thank-you for the community, friendship and support that that you provide to the U.S. citizens and the community as a whole. This is a testament to the terrific U.S.-German partnership. Finally, so I don't accidentally forget anyone, I will employ a tradition commonly used in Africa and say, "ALL PROTOCOL OBSERVED." Although my speech will be in English I wanted to say a few key things in German.... Obwohl meine Ansprache in Englischer Sprache sein wird, mochte ich gerne einige wichtige Dinge in Deutsch sagen Africa is important. Afrika is wichtig. African challenges are global challenges. Afrikanische Herausforderungen sind globale Herausforderungen Working together towards stability and peace is necessary. Zusammenarbeit Richtung Stabilitat und Frieden ist notwendig. Before I go any further let me tell you a story. I heard about a Hollywood film crew working on location deep in the Congo. One day, one of the local elders working on the set who had an uncanny way of predicting the weather like the octopus for the World Cup. He went up to the director and said, "Tomorrow, rain." This surprised the director, but the next day it rained. A week later, the elder went up to the director and said, "Tomorrow, storm." The next day there was a hailstorm. "This man is incredible!" said the director. And he told his secretary to hire the man to predict the weather. However, after several successful predictions, the elder didn't show up for two weeks. Finally the director sent for him. "I have to shoot a big scene tomorrow," said the director, "and I'm depending on you. What will the weather be like?" The elder shrugged his shoulders. "Don't know," he said. "My Blackberry broke." In the middle of the Congo, this elder and a Blackberry illustrate technology at work. More importantly is highlights a changing world. The world is of course always changing. But now more than ever the changes in the world are demanding that we in turn change our views and perspectives. Let me tell you a bit more serious story. The "Union of the Comoros" is a small island nation in the western Indian Ocean. It is a nearly-100% Muslim country, population a little over 700,000 and a history of political strife. Some 20 coups or attempted coups have occurred since it gained independence from France back in 1975. In spite of the continuous tension within the country, I was struck with their military and their willingness to transform. They needed to build up their security capacity, so they recruited new members and put them through a new training regimen. While I was there, the Chief of Defense invited me to see a martial arts demonstration at their parade grounds. Now I know something about a military formation and can see discipline in the ranks. What I saw was truly amazing. I saw female recruits marching side by side, now in their own formation, but side by side with their male counterparts. I turned to their Chief of Defense and said, those are women out there and without batting an eye, he said yes there are. Note again that this is a 100% Muslim country. These same female recruits participating in a superb co-ed martial arts demonstration with their male counterparts. Note again, they were not doing this separate from the men, but with them...throwing them around just like you would see at the U.S. Military Academy. What I witnessed was impressive. Part Two: The Strategic Importance of Africa It is my experience that when most Americans and I bet many Europeans think of Africa, the first things that come to mind are challenges rather than opportunities. Africa's challenges are known: war, strife, disease, trafficking and so on. But let's change our perspective and look at the opportunities throughout the continent. I probably don't have to tell you that Africa is a very complex and dynamic continent: 53 nations, each with a unique history; 800 different ethnic groups speaking over 1000 languages; A population that is now about 1 billion people that is projected to double in the next 40-50 years; The European Union is only 500 million. According to a McKinsey, a management consulting firm, report on Africa's booming opportunities, Africa already has more middle-class households than India. Yes, it is understood that, a number of countries are still grappling with democratic consolidation, political reform, civil conflicts, post-conflict reconstruction, and other challenges. Despite all that, it is also a continent that presents tremendous opportunities. You know as well as I do that Africa is strategically important to Europe. The U.S. has realized that Africa is strategically important to the U.S. and to the world. This importance has been asserted in the last three consecutive U.S. National Security Strategies and is the reason I am here as the Commander of U.S. Africa Command. Up until a few years ago, the U.S. Department of Defense divided Africa up between three different regional commanders. Part of Africa Command's challenge in making the case for the strategic importance of Africa, is looking both in the short and long term. Sometimes, the tendency is to zero in on the immediate, short term challenges or potential crises and ask, "GEN Ward, what are you going to do about Somalia? Or Sudan? (DRC, Liberia) Or fill-in-the-blank." While addressing these issues is indeed important and we do pay attention to each of those it is also important to look at Africa in terms of the long range opportunities that exist--in economic development, good governance, security initiatives, and geopolitical role--that will both improve the lives of Africans and build the foundation for stronger bonds of friendship, cooperation, and economic exchange between the nations of Africa and the United States. All the while we are promoting an environment where American ives are more secure both aboard and at home and where American interests are promoted. The strategic importance of Africa is about stability and growth and is in the best interests of the United States and the world. Let me talk in more detail about these opportunities, all of which overlap with each other to an extent. First, in economic development. Study after study of the current economic conditions in Africa highlight Africa's investment potential. Modern information technologies such as mobile phone banking are making major inroads, as cell phone usage has increased greatly. Nothing highlights this more clearly than the announcement that the American company WALMART plans to purchase the South African Company MASSMART. WALMART will be making its biggest purchase in over 10 years for stores in 13 African countries for close to $5 Billion dollars. I'm not an MBA but that is a lot of money to invest in Africa! In addition, Africa is rich in a wide variety of resources, but lacks a robust manufacturing base and transportation infrastructure that allow it to develop those resources and bring products to the global market. Factors such as corruption, weak institutions, and trafficking [in drugs, persons, natural resources, and arms] impact development but are not and should not be seen as absolute barriers to investment. In addition, Africa's rapidly growing population is facing challenges related to food security and the environment, including adaption to climate change advances in clean water production will do much to help Africa in addition to the overall health benefits Good governance provides leverage for these economic opportunities. It fosters stability that allows countries along with their African partners across all sectors to build trust, pursue mutual interests, and forge lasting relationships. Some African nations are making progress in improving governance through free and fair elections, establishment of viable institutions, provision of services, and proper civil authority over an impartial military- Those nations have shown to be generally reliable partners who are resilient during crisis situations, and who we and other international partners can count on. Those whose governance is weaker, who have isolated parts of its population, or who seek to consolidate or withhold power, have tended to be less stable and more risky. The expressed desire and actions taking by our African partners to provide for their own security and stability is something that should ortant to all of us. Africans are steadily taking greater ownership in addressing existing security challenges, such as unresolved post-conflict scenarios, humanitarian disasters, maritime security issues, and others. It means that over time, we can work more effectively together with our African partners to further mutual interests, such as supporting peacekeeping operations in other parts of the world. This will in turn make huge contributions to the goals of peace and stability in Africa. I will use that word again and again. It is all about STABILITY. Stability is in the interest of the United States, stability is in the E.U's interest and stability is in the world's interest. As progress continues in economic development, good governance, and self-sustained security, Africa's increased geopolitical importance affords additional opportunities. The development of the African Union and its Regional Economic Communities, growing regional cooperation among neighboring states, and establishment of the Africa Standby Force, show a broad commitment toward stability. As examples, the Gulf of Guinea nations are working to improve maritime security; the Great Lakes nations are cooperating in pursuit of the Lord's Resistance Army; and the communications infrastructure linking the African Union's Peace Support Operations Center with the standby forces and AU peacekeeping missions, has been developed. All this speaks to tremendous potential for partnership in the long term. Significant challenges do remain, and an undeniable factor in Africa's growing importance lies in how some of those challenges can have direct or indirect effects on the rest of the world. For these challenges, our interests are clearly at stake.Violent extremism could grow unchecked in the Horn of Africa or across the Sahel, leading to attacks against U.S. and European persons or interests around the world. We have already seen clear examples of this in the kidnapping of seven French citizens last month. The upcoming Sudanese referendum vote on succession could lead to the eruption of a civil war or could create instability across the region and have global effects.A pandemic disease outbreak could cause a breakdown in society. Although HIV/AIDS gets a lot of attention, malaria is still a threat on the African continent and the greatest killer of its children.The dissolution of governance where-by the influence of drug trafficking becomes excessive or the military becomes too politicized, is also a concern. An example is West Africa's role as a potential transit point in the global drug trade between South American, Europe, and the U.S. The greater issue is not that these challenges exist in Africa, but that the Africans lack the means to totally and fully confront them. They therefore retain some dependency on outside assistance for their security capacity. In some cases, the resources are available but are not fully aligned to confront today's challenges. This dependence limits the Africans' progress in other sectors because direct foreign involvement in their internal affairs is an irritant and distraction. Since U.S. Africa Command's inception, we routinely heard phrases like 'African solutions to African problems.' That theme still resonates, so U.S. efforts to help Africans address their challenges are focused on indirect methods, a combination of diplomatic, developmental, and defense engagements, programs, and activities that help build capacity, and foster African ownership and all the while lead to sustained progress and greater stability on the continent. Part Three: What the Africans Want These challenges and opportunities I have outlined are not easy. If they were easy we would not be here. African nations, the international community the USG and finally the U.S. Military have been wrestling with these issues for a long time. U.S. Africa Command reflects a new approach for the U.S. government. When established U.S. Africa Command took over the activities of three other U.S. geographic commands but our approach to sustained security engagement is new. We are a military organization with the US Government interagency at our core. We have staff members from throughout the US Federal government. One of my two deputies is a senior Foreign Service Officer, an Ambassador. Our first step was to listen and learn from our African partners. To listen to what was important to them from their perspective. What was important to them from their perspective, not ours. There were several common themes from my many visits to the continent and its island nations that together described what the Africans wanted in the long term for their security sectors. We called it a 'Security Vision for Africa --as Expressed by Africans,' that consists of four basic 'pillars'. The first pillar is the pursuit of capable and accountable self-sustaining "security" forces. Although the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Africa Command are primarily concerned with the development of military ground, air, and naval forces, the capabilities needed are far broader -- police, border patrols, coast guards, customs, immigration, airspace management, courts and laws and others Ã? aligned against the challenges and threats the partner nations face. This is an area that the European Union has already identified and has programs in place to address. One example is EUPOL which is the E.U. Police Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo engaging with police, and the criminal justice sector to address the whole security sector in DRC. Accountability includes instilling professional values, ethics, and transparency that ensures adherence to proper societal norms and respect for civil authority. By Self-sustaining I mean having available sufficient enabling capabilities, like communications and logistics, which permit partners to reduce need for outside assistance. The second pillar, 'effective, legitimate, and professional security institutions,' operationalizes or makes the control that civil authority has over the military and all other security services a reality Ã? ensuring manning, training, equipping, sustaining, commanding and controlling, financing, budgeting, and providing facilities and infrastructure are all in place to lead to greater professionalism. "Security Sector Reform" may come to mind first, but this is a wholesale institutional building effort that is transformational including at the ministerial level. The majority of activities are much smaller in scale, addressing some specific need some specific training requirement. The third pillar is the 'ability and will to dissuade, deter, and defeat current and future transnational threats.' By 'ability and will,' I mean both the ability to cooperate with partner nations or regional entities to combat such threats together, along with sufficient political support to take the necessary actions. 'Current and future threats' is key. Much of our security capacity building deals with the current array of threats, such as building counterterrorist forces to confront today's violent extremists. There are already new transnational threats at work in other places around the world that can adversely affect Africa and its populations as it develops, and getting ahead of those threats is important. The present and current threats posed by narco-terrorists are a real cause for alarm. The fourth pillar is the ability to 'lead international peacekeeping efforts.' Many African leaders expressed to me that the tangible contributions to peacekeeping efforts was a visible sign of growing geopolitical importance. The pursuit of 'leadership' can bring about the necessary dialogue to develop a vision of what the continent can provide in terms of peacekeeping capabilities Ã? of recruiting, training and educating, sustaining, commanding and controlling, and employing peacekeeping forces that leverage the full breadth and diversity of the African people and contribute to stability. There are concerns that a certain number of willing and capable nations may be overburdened as they take on increasing roles in peacekeeping operations. However, the nations of Africa are strongly supportive of peace operations and are generally eager participants in peacekeeping capacity building efforts such as the African Contingency Operations Training Assistance program (ACOTA). The commitment to peacekeeping is an opportunity that we have been leveraging for quite some time and will continue to do so. In considering these four pillars, two important points come to mind. This is clearly a long-term endeavor. The development or transformation of security capacities will not happen overnight, and in many cases will happen on an African, not an American, timetable. Sufficient freedom from political violence is needed to allow real progress to take root. The conditions must be set for the nations of Africa to address the short-term challenges so that the long-term objectives can be pursued. We believe in encouraging African nations and the African Union to work together and lead the response, rather than doing the job for them. The effort may involve a range of international partners, going beyond just the U.S. government. There are already instances such as efforts in Liberia that involve multiple partners supporting the development of different aspects of the security sector. In some cases, this will be what the partner wants. In others, this may be reflective of constraints or limits on U.S. resources or the resources of contributing entities. While making engagement a little more complex in some ways, this provides opportunities to provide a more effective mix of capabilities that meets our partners' needs. Part Four: The U.S. Military Role So how precisely does US African Command conduct its mission? Our primary efforts are in the realm of 'security force assistance' or 'building security capacity,' while being prepared to respond in times of crisis when the US President directs. There are three broad capacity building functions we can perform in the way of programs and activities. We then leave it to our partners to decide what their specific requirements are, from which we can determine a mutually agreeable and beneficial plan. The first is "building operational capacity," which goes far beyond numbers of troops trained and equipped, or numbers of planes and ships put into service. It includes helping to align military capabilities against the challenges and threats faced, developing the necessary operational enablers--the logistics, and command and control, and integrating them with other elements of the security sector in accordance with partner needs. The operational needs of each partner vary greatly, but there are common patterns we have seen. For instance, the recent histories of some nations caused them to develop large ground forces oriented on domestic security, but today many are concerned about the lack of capacity to monitor and control their maritime and airspace. Interoperability is also a high-priority, as neighboring nations recognize that they need to work together to combat transnational threats. We have an array of programs to improve enabling capabilities, such as communications, logistics, engineering, and military intelligence that are very important for sustaining security operations, sharing information among partners, and building mutual trust and confidence. This also provides a means to encourage opportunities in diplomacy and development. One great example is the training and equipment support US Africa Command is providing the African Union's Peace and Security Operations Directorate (PSOD) as it develops communications architecture for the Africa Standby Force (ASF). US Africa Command, in cooperation with the Brenthurst Foundation and the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS), is also helping the African Union develop a Maritime Security Strategy for Africa. Another example -- is South Africa's State Partnership Program with the National Guard of the State of New York. South Africa represents one of only eight such partnerships that we have established in Africa so far. As part of this State Partnership Program, the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) recently hosted two US military women to share their military experiences and discuss family programs during their Women on Deployment Symposium. The second function is "building institutional capacity," which builds and sustains civil authority over the military and the readiness of the force. This is about how nations develop their own capabilities to train, sustain, recruit, and pay their service members. Our activities enhance existing civil-military relationships so the defense sector is more effective as an integral part of the overall security sector. We work closely with other US government agencies to pursue joint programs and activities that are appropriate for the partner nation. This goes back to the fact we listen and do those things the partner nation thinks are appropriate for their needs and where they see themselves going in the long-term. The third area, "growing human capital," is very important. This is about the professionalism, attributes, and values that complement capacity building efforts and enhances the standing of military forces among members of civil society, where militaries are seen as protectors of their society and not oppressors of their society. As part of all our programs and activities, we encourage our partners to develop the capacity to take care of their forces, which greatly increases readiness. Part Five: CONCLUSION Ultimately, when we look at the strategic importance of Africa, I think we have all come to the same conclusion, that there is no real option but to be involved. When we look at the unique capabilities of the military and the emphasis being placed on security force assistance, it is clear that we 'can' and 'must' be involved. And when we look at what the nations of Africa and the regional organizations require and have expressed as their needs, we need to be involved over the long-term -- 'sustained security engagement'-- in order to help Africans ultimately achieve their goal of providing for their own capacity in the security realm. We must fully integrate it and coordinate it with our government and international partners and others who share a common goal of stability on the continent of Africa and its island nations. I hope I have been able to shed some light on what US Africa Command is all about. US Africa Command is playing an important and beneficial role on the continent to meet our common goals and objectives for peace and security as we work with our own government and international partners.