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TRANSCRIPT: AFRICOM Commander Praises Professionalism of Ghanaian Armed Forces at Recent Press Roundtable
<i>General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) discussed AFRICOM, its relationship with African partner nations, regional issues impacting West Africa, as well as his vision for AFRICOM&#39;s future during a February 9, 2011
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) discussed AFRICOM, its relationship with African partner nations, regional issues impacting West Africa, as well as his vision for AFRICOM's future during a February 9, 2011 press roundtable in Accra, Ghana. He also praised the Ghanaian Armed Forces for their professionalism and example.

"I think it is no secret that we all understand how professional the Ghana Armed Forces are," Ward said during his opening statement. "They are among the most professional and well-respected militaries on the continent. Their reputation reaches beyond the country's borders. I think that what is as important as that is the fact that the people of Ghana respect and trust their military and believe them to be professional and a positive role model for society."

The complete transcript is below. GENERAL WILLIAM E. WARD: Well, let me first thank you for coming out and spending a little bit of time with me. And let me start off by saying it's great to see so many of you that I have seen before welcoming me back now to your country when the last time I think I saw many of you may have been when the delegation visited Stuttgart last February. And I think I came here right after that because I was here in March. So I saw you then as well. So, I mean, this is getting to be like Old Home Week now; I see so many of you that I know and remember -- and the elder statesman, I guess, I don't know -- (laughter) -- the "godfather." (Laughter.) But, anyways, I'm really happy to be here and spending some time back here in Ghana with some great friends. Before I certainly turn the time over to you for some questions just let me make a brief opening statement. And that is that I just came here to thank our Ghana partners and friends for being such valued partners with us. The United States military has an outstanding bilateral relationship with the Ghana armed forces. And we have conducted numerous successful events and activities through the years. I also want to personally thank the government and the military for hosting two major activities last year: first serving as a major hub for our maritime program, the Africa Partnership Station; and also hosting Africa Endeavor 2010, which is a major communications exercise for the entire continent to include the regional organizations, to include the African Union -- but was held here this past August here in Ghana. I think it is no secret that we all understand how professional the Ghana armed forces are. They are among the most professional and well-respected militaries on the continent. Their reputation reaches beyond the country's borders. I think that what is as important as that is the fact that the people of Ghana respect and trust their military and believe them to be professional and a positive role model for society. You know, it's over 39-and-a-half years I've been a soldier. And I've been wearing the uniform which I call the cloth of our nation. And when you are seen to be different and you are recognized as being positive by the people of a society I think that's a positive thing. Now, the actions of military professionals in any country are watched by its citizens. And they serve as examples in society that can be either positive or negative. The good news for Ghana is that they are positive examples. Your military acts professionally, is respected in Ghana, is respected in West Africa, is respected across the continent and indeed is respected, I believe, globally. The African nations, I think, have an important role to play in ensuring global safety and security. And I think since many of you have spoken in the past, over the past couple or three years, what you have seen is the establishment of U.S. Africa Command. And I think that has had important advantages for the region including engagement that has been sustained, that has been focused from the United States in support of initiatives and partnerships that our African friends have asked for -- again, nothing that we have imposed, directed or dictated. It's been in support of our African partners and friends. And we said that would be how we would operate from the very beginning and we have demonstrated that through our actions. And I believe those are the sorts of things that have tended to cause us to be viewed, more often than not, in positive, positive ways. Partnership is the command's long-term focus. We will continue supporting our African nation partners in achieving their long-term security objectives so the African people can have a better chance of enjoying peace and stability. This work will continue. And even though many of you know that my time as commander is coming to an end shortly, it won't stop the approach and the work that we do and how we do it. And I'd like to reaffirm our commitment to Ghana as well as to our other partner nations to support them with their defense-oriented endeavors and activities. So, again, it's great to be here. I remain very proud and happy to be U.S. Africa Command's first commander. And I look forward to continue doing that job to the very best of my ability as I run through the tape. So, with that, I'll stop and take some questions from you. But thanks again for being here this afternoon. So -- MODERATOR: As they say, ladies first. Q: Okay, thank you. AFRICOM, one of its objectives, it seems, is to give us, increase our African security (staff ?) needs. I want to know what AFRICOM is doing to help us reduce or cut this issue of insecurity when it comes to other nations. GEN. WARD: Well, security is a shared responsibility. And I say that because no longer is security solely in the realm of any single nation or entity insofar as helping to attain it. And so one of the focus areas for U.S. Africa Command has been -- as we conduct various exercises, program and other activities -- our focus on the regional nature of security, the shared responsibility. And so, to that end, insofar as the increased security perspective, our exercises that we conduct. And we -- and I mentioned Africa Endeavor here in Ghana. I mentioned the Africa Partnership Station that we conduct that includes so many different nations, communities, entities. It's about how coming together, working as a group to help address common challenges, common threats so that we have a better chance of defeating and dealing with that threat. And so our approach has been just that. Another thing that we have endeavored to do is listen to what it is our African partners say they require to enhance their security capacity. No one knows better than them what their needs and requirements are. And so when we come in, we dialogue and we listen and we take those things that are asked and apply them to our policy lens -- because things that we do certainly have to be in keeping with our foreign policy. You know, AFRICOM, as I've told many of you before, we don't go out and just start doing what we want to do. We do things as a result of a stated foreign-policy objective. And I don't make our foreign policy. But once we get a foreign-policy stance that has a defense component to it then AFRICOM does that. And so insofar as the security capacity of Ghana and its armed forces, there are things that exist from the continued professionalization of the force, education, training, participation in peacekeeping operations where there are training requirements through our Department of State and the ACOTA program. We've done all of those sorts of things that are designed to do what Ghana and the other partner nations asked to do as it increases its capacity -- so our exercise program, training exchanges, the exchange of students where members of the Ghana armed forces return to the States, attend class and attend professional-development schools, some as short as two or three weeks, others as long as nine or 10 months or even a year. All of those activities are contributing to the increased security capacity of the Ghana armed forces. Yes, there. MODERATOR: Roland (ph), please. Q: General Ward, has the WikiLeaks documents from Ghana and other African countries created any suspicion in terms of sharing knowledge and information within countries and -- (inaudible). GEN. WARD: Roland, for me I have not seen it. Obviously it's not something that I deal with every day. I mean, I have not looked at any of that data. What has been out there, it's not something that I look at. But I have not experienced or seen how -- our relationship has always been a very transparent one with the nations of the continent. And so, at my level, for me, it has not had an impact. MODERATOR: Francis (sp)? GEN. WARD: Hello, Francis. How are you, sir? Q: Fine, thank you. The West African force is becoming very important. Has AFRICOM -- (inaudible) -- to increase security in the region to prevent piracy? GEN. WARD: AFRICOM's program is supporting the nations of West Africa whose territorial waters are threatened by various activities from piracy to illegal trafficking of various commodities: from weapons to people to illegal use of their territorial waters, illegal fishing and other things. And so AFRICOM's policy is to support the nations of the region who have taken decisions to deal with that common threat in their territorial waters. And, going back to my comment about the regional perspective -- insofar as we know that -- dealing with that has to occur as neighbors work together. And so when we -- programs such as our Africa Partnership Station, where this at-sea training platform goes around to the various nations in the region conducting training activities, maintenance activities that have been asked for by the nations of the region to help them increase their capacity. It includes things like -- I'll give you some examples. There is a program called visit, board, search and seizure where if you have a vessel operating in your territorial waters and this vessel hasn't signaled that it's there and the officials don't know what it's doing there, well, how do you approach that vessel in a way that maintains the safety of your crew, maintains the safety of the vessel -- because you don't know what it's doing. So there are common ways of doing that that help safeguard everyone, training in that regard. Another program: Maritime patrolling, I mean, you see something out there, but what do you do about it? Well, providing equipment to assist in that regard -- and if you have equipment, keeping it operational, maintaining it. You've got to keep your systems functional for them to work for you; so there's a program, a training for that. You know, sharing information through what we call an automated information system, a commercial system where nations can tie themselves together. A nation hears or sees something -- hey, I see something in my territorial waters, don't know what it is that's coming your way; you pass that information along. So AFRICOM's activities are in support of the nations of West Africa who now -- almost five years ago in 2006 came together and said, we want to collectively do something to enhance our maritime security in West Africa. But in order to do it in a more effective way, these are some support requirements we have. And we have been working with those nations ever since to help deliver those activities that support their desires to be more active in providing for the security of their territorial waters and their maritime domain. Q: (Inaudible) -- Egypt and so forth, what's happened there: the military, the demonstrations, what happened there. Now, let me get your thoughts: What do you think about the military and the civilians? What happened that really led to the clash? Do you think that AFRICOM in a way has what it takes to keep what happened there to a level that we can manage? GEN. WARD: Well, I think, firstly, it's not AFRICOM's job. I mean, that is a matter for the people of Egypt, the Egyptian security apparatus. I think what we do see is because of -- it's not AFRICOM; it's U.S. engagement over time. And I don't know; you may know that I served in Cairo a little over 10 years ago. I lived in Cairo for almost two years working with the Egyptian armed forces. The Egyptian armed forces are not the Egyptian police force: two different entities. And many times someone wears a uniform and you automatically assume that, well, these guys are these guys; well, there is a bit of a difference there. And I think you understand that. What -- and I don't know any more about it than you -- but all I know is what I've seen reported through the media and whatnot. But what I did see was a demonstration of Egyptian military activity that -- instead of -- you didn't see the Egyptian soldiers going out, abusing civilians. In fact, you saw the opposite: caring for -- again, a sign of how a military tried to remain impartial, not getting in between these political issues because those are for Egyptian, the people to determine. And I'm certainly happy to see a military do that in that way. Now, are there potential for instances? There is never a perfect situation. There may be some deviation of a standard but, by and large, across the board what you saw was, I think, a military conducting themselves in a professional way, trying to help keep a situation calm without being involved in taking any side or the other, serving its people as best it could, its men and women who perform -- (for its rights ?) -- conducting themselves in professional ways and disciplined ways and, again, trying to do its best to help maintain order in a society. And I think that's what we saw in Egypt. I think the Egyptian military can be applauded for that. Again, is it always perfect? No. There is nothing that's always perfect. But when you look at the grand scheme of things and the general attitude, the best example are the Egyptian people. You can see Egyptian people running up to soldiers and kissing them and hugging them and whatnot as opposed to running away from them because they're afraid to be -- and so I think that's what you take from this. And I think that is what I would say about that whole piece. The Egyptian people have the final say in what that would be. Mainly my hope would be that certainly what happens, happens in a stable way, happens in an orderly way but clearly happens to reflect the desires of the Egyptian people. And I believe those are the same sorts of things that my secretary of state has said, president has said. And I clearly agreed with the things that were said by Secretary Clinton and President Obama. MODERATOR: Sven (ph)? Q: Thank you so much, General Ward. Mine is about Ivory Coast -- (inaudible) -- to get your own assessment of the situation in Ivory Coast, occurring there. And what do you think should be the push of the military who are courting between two heads of states? How should they go about it -- because the situation is very volatile and in case the worst happens, what should be the push of -- (inaudible). GEN. WARD: The role of the military, I think, is to be impartial, to not take sides, to support its constitution. And I believe, again, by and large, we have seen that happen. Again, I don't know all of the details because I'm not there. And in some respects you are much closer to it than I because it's right here in your neighborhood. And as I was told by one African friend, those guys are my cousins; and so there are informal channels back and forth that exist. So you probably have a much better assessment of it than I. But I believe that, again, an orderly transition of power, like what your country has been experiencing now for many years is the model that we would all like to see occur. When the people have made a statement and when the people have said this is now the government that we have elected, for that transition to occur in an orderly way. And I believe militaries ought not be involved in that. That is not the role of the military, to decide those sorts of things. And I think that, to the degree that militaries do in fact stay out of it and where they are called to help maintain order and do it in some very special and deliberate ways that, again, are neutral and nonpolitical, you know, that may occur. But, beyond that, those are for the people of that country as well as for the diplomats to do, hopefully in accordance with the constitution and not in the extra-constitutional means. MODERATOR: Seth? Q: I want to know -- from the look of things, the West African course is developing or is actually -- has become a major route for the drug trafficking. What role would AFRICOM play to fight drug trafficking? GEN. WARD: Yeah, that's a great question, Seth. I mean, you know, the scourge of illegal drug trafficking threatens all of us. And you know, sovereign nations are responsible for dealing with that threat in their sovereign territories. So the role that AFRICOM plays is a role that has, one, recognized that the sovereign nation has said, this illegal trafficking is something that we want to do something about. We want to deal with this in more effective ways. Many of these challenges can have a remedy through some of the same activities. You know, when you help protect your territorial waters through a better -- through a more effective, you know, maritime security force that also helps deal with illegal trafficking because the maritime borders are better protected. But it's not just a -- a military issue. I mean it has applications across other sectors of the society, financial sectors, border sectors. And so for us, you know, when nations have determined that they will deal with this threat and in that determination, there are things that have a military application through a better prepared security or maritime security force, coast guard or navy, and there are shortfalls in the capacity of that maritime force, either in a training point of view or an equipping point of view, what AFRICOM is doing -- And again, because it supports our foreign policy to be a partner in dealing with these illegal trafficking of drugs, we then are working with our partners to conduct the training, to provide some equipment, to work with other parts of our government who also deal in drug issues, our Drug Enforcement Agency, our Department of State, counternarcotics bureau, all working together to address our various aspects of this threat and ways that support -- and I go back to that term. You keep asking me what is AFRICOM going to do about it? Well, what we do about it is support those whose sovereign territory these activities are affecting because truly, they have global impact. And so our role is to be as supportive as we can as nations of a region work together to deal with that common threat. And where we can provide assistance and support in the form of, as I've said, training, equipment, operational procedures that are common standards, then we are doing that. And we're doing that in many, many places through the west coast of Africa. Q: Thanks very much. GEN. WARD: Thanks. Q: If you'd just indulge me, two quick questions. The first was on -- just to follow up on my colleague's question about Ivory Coast. Last month, there were reports that ECOWAS, defense chiefs had met in Bamako to do some contingency planning about the potential use of force in Ivory Coast should ECOWAS' message regarding the elections not be heeded. The U.S. has said that such use of force would be a last resort, but not something that's off the table. Has the Defense Department have discussion with ECOWAS or its member states about planning for a potential military intervention in Ivory Coast? Second question was on Joseph Kony and Uganda. From what I understand, since 2009, the U.S. supported an ultimately unsuccessful effort to capture Mr. Kony. I understand there's talk of trying to conduct another effort. Where do you see that? What sorts of resources do you need if that is indeed the case? GEN. WARD: Thanks. First, there have been on discussions with the Department of Defense -- U.S. Department of Defense that I'm aware of with respect to Côte d'Ivoire and ECOWAS' plans one way or the other. What I will say is that you know, most militaries do -- I mean we plan a lot of things. Most are never executed, but we plan because when a head of state -- and it goes to your point -- you don't take options off the table. You plan for options in case a head of state -- that the political leadership says what could you do. And so when we're asked, we have some plan. That is not to say that is ever designed to be executed, but doing contingency planning is something that we do. So I have not been a part, though, of any military plan nor have I been approached by any ECOWAS nation with any discussion about any plan that they have been doing or not doing. I'm just not aware of any of that. Q: So do you have a contingency plan for Côte d'Ivoire then? GEN. WARD: Côte d'Ivoire, our planning as far as evacuation of our citizens, yes. The noncombatant evacuation of American citizens, if that were to be the case, but no plans for doing any intervention other than what I just indicated as far as protection of American citizens, their evacuation. Insofar as the Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army, you know, our -- we have the resolution passed by our Congress that talked to the continued efforts led by the Ugandans as well as those other regional partners to go after that common threat to take actions to remove that threat from their midst. And I will say that the cooperation that exists between those nations in Central Africa to work together to address that threat is something that we ought to take positive note of, the fact that these nations are working together to address this common threat. As you know, that's a vast region, dense, difficult terrain. So finding anything is not easy. And so in that regard, what we have done is working with the nations who are involved, with respect to you know, their capacity to continue to look for Joseph Kony and then once he is apprehended, to bring him to appropriate legal authorities for dealing with the -- well, dealing with the things that he has done to innocent people for the past, oh, 25 or so years in that part of the continent. So we continue to work with, you know, the nations in the region who have taken a decision to deal with the Kony threat and our efforts run a gambit from, again, you know, some procedures that could be used to try to find him to things that would be done to provide some additional logistical support those who are out looking for him. And we share information amongst themselves so that they have a better chance of using all that's available to them in a more effective way to deal with -- to deal with Joseph Kony. That effort does in fact continue and we continue to look for ways to enhance it to make it better. Q: But no talk of a new offensive a la 2009? GEN. WARD: I'm sorry? Q: No talk to the similar offensive as in 2009? GEN. WARD: Not that I'm aware of, no. Nathaniel Q: Thank you. (I start to be quiet ?) and you say you have not much insight into what is happening in Ivory Coast. But I want to know how AFRICOM is involved with the power crisis there. GEN. WARD: The what crisis? Q: The power crisis in Côte d'Ivoire. GEN. WARD: The power crisis. We don't have any involvement in the power crisis. Not that I'm aware of but I mean this -- you mean fuel and that sort of thing? Q: On the political crisis. GEN. WARD: Oh, between -- Q: Between -- (inaudible, cross talk). GEN. WARD: No, that is -- that's -- we're not involved. Q: You're not involved in any -- GEN. WARD: No, no, no, no. I, like many folks, hope that it solves soon. I hope that it's resolved in a -- in a peaceful way soon. Again, as I said at the beginning, reflecting that earlier question that reflects, you know, the will of the people that was demonstrated in the electoral process. But I have no -- we have no role in that. It's not -- it's for the Côte d'Ivoirian people and you know, those politicians to hopefully make a decision that will be reflected by the best interests of the people in their country and maintaining stability. Q: Okay, thank you very much. Hello, General. GEN. WARD: Hello there, sir. Good to see you, good to see you. Q: It's certain that you're running off your work here. And I would like to know first, one, that is going to be -- (inaudible) -- experienced, how are you going to -- are you going to leave it here in the dust? GEN. WARD: (Chuckles.) Q: I would like to know how -- how you assess the work that has been done so far by AFRICOM or by the U.S. We achieved -- in terms of percentage, we achieved our targets or we are nearing it and as far as budget goes, is it going to go up if we are achieving success? Does it mean it has to be doubled or what is the game plan? How is it reviewed? What shape is the review taking? GEN. WARD: Yeah. Q: Thank you, sir. GEN. WARD: Well, you asked me four questions, Harry. (Laughter.) Q: (Inaudible.) GEN. WARD: I will conduct my change of command on the 9th of March, where I will relinquish command to General Carter Ham of United States Africa Command. And I think that my experience and the experiences of the command, to this point, will not be left on the desk. They will be used to build upon so that we continue to make positive progress because it's not just Kip Ward that it's about. It's about having created a staff, an organization that has taken it very seriously that we are most effective when we form partnerships and relationships with our African friends, when we form partnerships and relationships with our other government agencies, the Department of States, our Agency for International Development. When we form partnerships and relationships with others who have like and similar interests on the continent, our other international friends who are a part of -- as an example, our Africa Partnership Station. And most importantly, when we have taken the thoughts, ideas, priorities about African partners and friends, both at the national level of various nations, but also the regional level and the continental level, you know, listening to those organizations so that our activities are supportive of the things that collectively are seen as moving towards a more stable environment. And what we have, I think, been able to do to this point is to create an atmosphere where our partners know that we are there listening to them, where our work is not -- in spite of the questions that many of you have asked me, what is AFRICOM doing about it, but work that is in support of our partners because you don't want us taking over from you, even though you ask me that all the time. (Laughter.) But it's not our role to take over. Our role is to support our achievement of these common objectives. And so what we have done is, I think, to this point is, in very specific terms, made that visible to you, made that visible to our friends on the continent, made that visible to our friends around the world. You know, we operate in a way that I think you understand -- that is understood -- that says, no, we're not in charge. This is your sovereign territory. We don't dictate to you. We listen, we respect and we support where we can, the achievement of these common objectives. So you know, are our achievements on target? I believe so. Are they complete? Well, the work of stability and security will always be there because there will always be those who will come and try to challenge systems, that will come and try to do harm to innocent people. And so the work is not done. It's -- I don't know -- one day, maybe, it will be completely done because I think for those who will come behind this, our children and grandchildren who have a completely secure and stable world, it'll be a wonderful thing. But there's a lot of folks out there that don't want to see that. They like to stir things up and as long as there are those out there doing that, the work won't be done. So what we have done to this point is build a foundation that says to help deal with those threats, those things that threaten peace and stability, we are a partner with you, working to help make a difference in countering those threats, those challenges and doing it together because as I said, the issue of providing security is not for any single nation or entity alone. It is a collective responsibility that we all share. And I think what AFRICOM has done this day is to make the point that we are indeed a partner that you can trust, that we'll listen to you and we'll do our best in support of those common objectives that reflect your policy as well as United States foreign policy. And that's, I think, where we have it now and we will continue to build upon that. And it doesn't matter who the commander is. I think that is what this command now is seen as being. And it's because of how you have seen us conduct ourselves. Q: So the charisma will stay. GEN. WARD: (Chuckles.) Now, you've talked about the budget. You know that the Department of Defense, like all other parts of our government, you know, resources are not infinite. There are limits. And so we are in -- the secretary of defense has put the department in an efficiencies review that has said, okay, you know, how are we being most assured that those resources that we have are being used to their very best advantage and we will continue to do that. We looked at our budget, we looked at our resources. I'm optimistic that while we probably will never get all that we want, we will get a share that is sufficient enough to continue to promote security objectives in meaningful ways on the continent. Again, it won't be everything because no one gets everything, but we will get that that will be a contributing factor in the work that we do to help achieve higher levels of stability as we work with our African partners. Q: Is it possible to ask one last question concerning General Ward exits in March. GEN. WARD: Sure, okay. Go ahead. Q: All right. General Ward -- GEN. WARD: Don't ask him, I'm sitting right here. (Laughter.) I know he's a gatekeeper, but that's okay. He's a gatekeeper when I'm not around. (Cross talk.) Q: Which country would you have loved if Africa Command was moved down there? (Laughter.) GEN. WARD: Yeah, that's a -- Q: (Inaudible.) GEN. WARD: Which country would I have loved? I will answer this question the same way when I'm asked, you know, in my now, almost 40 years of service, which country have I -- where have I most loved serving? And the answer is, there is no answer to that because each place has something that it provides that I've really, really appreciated and admired. So as I've served around the world, I've enjoyed that service wherever I've been. As I look at the continent of Africa, it is a huge, huge continent, big, diverse. So no one place represents the entire continent. So therefore, our work is about work across the continent. And our presence is reflected in people like Turner (ph) who sits here in Ghana, in the country team, Olinga (ph) who sits here in Ghana in the country team and in other missions around the continent. My liaison that I have sitting in Addis Ababa with the African Union and in the hundreds of United States servicemen and women and civilians who, in a very consistent way, are engaged around the continent working with our African partners and friends in military-to-military activities and civilian-military activities where we work side by side with our partner nations and militaries as they deliver services to their people and we're doing that all around. So where the headquarters is or is not is really not the deal. It is about where we are on the continent, working through our programs, our activities, our exercises, being with the people, being with the partner-nation militaries, we learning for them, better understanding each of these locations and regions because we have this relationship and where we are able to provide support to their objectives because of the relationship and the ability to work together. Q: So you wish you don't move into Africa; it stays where it is? GEN. WARD: It stays where it is, as best I can determine. There are no plans that I'm aware of to move it anywhere. And I think that's okay. I think that's appropriate. STAFF: Sir, I'd like to invite you to maybe wrap it up, a closing statement? Do you want to -- (off mic)? GEN. WARD: Yeah, yeah. You know, one of the things that I talked about was the fact that we have these relationships and the fact that we don't do what we do by ourselves. We do this in cooperation with our partners and friends. And so I started early on talking about the, you know, we talk about the Africa Partnership Station but it's almost -- that's all that goes on. But there are a lot of things that go on. I mean we have APS. We have, you know, exercise coming up. We did Africa Endeavor here last year, as I mentioned. And in each of those activities, our partner nations form the core of the leadership of those activities. So again, it's not AFRICOM or U.S. Africa Command that comes in and dictates. We have folks who are integrated. The APS, the Africa Partnership Station that's going on right now, there's a ship rider aboard, a First Lieutenant Asiedu (ph), Samuel Asiedu who was from Ghana who was a part of the crew in a staff position providing instructions, just as there are the others from other parts of West Africa. So that characterizes how we do business, working with our partners and friends, listening to them, their integration into our activity. And so where you have that going on with APS, with Lieutenant Asiedu. We have it going on in all the events that we conduct. Our African friends and partners integrated into the activity so that we're not directing or telling. We're listening, getting their input so that it is meaningful to them. And so for us, you know, that's what we do. And in so doing, I think this is the point that we make. Yes, are there challenges on this continent? You've talked to me about them, you know, from Somalia to what goes on in Côte d'Ivoire. But there are also things that are going on in a positive way and we want to continue to reinforce that. What goes on here in Ghana, what goes -- what went on in Sudan, where we had the great thought -- well, what will this referendum lead to? Well, to this point, it said separation. Yet, two individuals who came together -- and again, I heard it on the news last night. I wasn't there -- I'm not a part of that. But I'm listening to it just like you who've said we're going to work together to make this work for our people. I think we have to acknowledge that and report about that so that the story is not always what's not going right in Africa, but also reflecting what is moving ahead in a positive way on this continent on behalf of these -- the people of the continent. And that's the story that in my mind's eye, is very important as well. And so no, Harry, you know, I won't leave it on the table, my friend because whether I'm in uniform or not, I think that is something that is worth highlighting and worth talking about. And as -- and the situation in Egypt, in Kenya, where the militaries are more rather than less conducting themselves in appropriate ways, again, is a perfect note that is a trend, is a positive trend and we ought to acknowledge that and we ought to do our best to continue to support those sorts of positive activities that in the end, serve to benefit the people of the country that they live in, the region. But in today's society, the entire population of the world because stability is something that we all want because when there's instability anywhere, it affects us. And I think that's the story that we have here. And I'm just -- you know -- the -- as you can tell, I still get excited about this. I mean this is something that for me is important and it doesn't matter if I'm in uniform or out, you know, my commitment, my support for those things that being done in the name of peace, that will always be there in whatever capacity. And I'm just very, very pleased that I've been able to be a part of supporting stability on this continent through our limited activities for the past, now, almost three-and-a-half years as the commander of United States Africa Command. And the work will go on. The work will go on. STAFF: Thank you very much. Roland, do you want to ask him one question right here on tape? (END)