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TRANSCRIPT: AFRICOM's First Commander Gives Retrospective Interview to American Forces Network
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, did an extensive interview with an American Forces Network (AFN) broadcaster on February 8, 2011 while in Dakar, Senegal. Ward was in the midst of a weeklong trip that included visits to
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, did an extensive interview with an American Forces Network (AFN) broadcaster on February 8, 2011 while in Dakar, Senegal. Ward was in the midst of a weeklong trip that included visits to four West African countries. Ward, who led the establishment of U.S. Africa Command and has served as its first commander since October 2007, will relinquish command to General Carter Ham on March 9, 2011 at a ceremony in Stuttgart, Germany.

During his wide-ranging interview with AFN, Ward reflected on his experience building the command, the evolution of the command's work in Africa and his thoughts on AFRICOM's future.

Reflecting on the future outlook of the command, Ward said, "The foundation has been laid and I see it continuing to improve as we move ahead and that's going to be because of the men and women who wear the nation's uniform as well as our great civilians who are part of this team working in ways with our [African] partners that says that first and foremost, we want to team with you. We want to do our best to support what you're doing. And when those things are in line with our foreign policy, we all will benefit from that work."

He continued, "And I see the command, over the next 10, 20 years, just getting better and better...being a model for other combatant commands around the world insofar as how you deal with a partner, how you make a difference, where stability -- long-term stability is the goal to prevent crisis from arising as opposed to having to react to a crisis."

The complete transcript is included below:

(Directions.)

GENERAL WILLIAM E. WARD: I'm General Kip Ward, commander of United States Africa Command.

Q: Sir, you have been with many joint units and combatant commands, and a lot around the military. When you were tapped to do the job of the Africa Command commander, did you already have a vision in mind of what you wanted to accomplish, or did you reflect and figure out what you wanted to do at that time?

GEN. WARD: Well, I had a vision not necessarily associated with AFRICOM, but based on my previous experiences in different parts of the world -- to be an effective security-cooperation partner, I had an idea of some of the important things that I wanted to bring to the command: how we establish relationships; how our partners knew that we were concerned about their thoughts, their ideas about taking the relationship and the partnership forward; and how through our supporting their efforts, what they were able to accomplish would be enhanced because it wasn't ours, but in fact, it was theirs.

They had ownership of it, and they knew that it was in accordance with their desires, their wishes and what was good for their country. And so I knew that, beginning, it was important that our friends, our partners knew that we could be trusted, that they knew that we would listen to them, that they knew that they could count on us to be with them over the long term.

And I saw a great importance in knowing that what we did was only a part of a total picture. And so how our efforts were integrated with the efforts of others, both our interagency partners, our other government partners -- truly, the host nation, other international partners -- that that was an important aspect of our ability to work effectively with our partners in supporting them in things that they wanted to do on behalf of our people and in promoting our security interests.

Q: As deputy EUCOM commander, you've seen a lot of Africa, and you've been responsible for a lot of the African continent. Was it your opinion that AFRICOM was needed? And why do you think that was needed at the time?

GEN. WARD: During my time as the deputy commander at U.S. European Command, I spent certainly quite a bit of time in Africa, but also in other parts of European Command's area of responsibility. And what was apparent to me was that even though we were devoting attention to Africa, it was the attention that came after things were done other places.

And so when the decision was made to create a separate command for Africa, United States Africa Command, I clearly supported it. I think it was well-needed, it was something that was appropriate for where we were at the time because it signified a importance to our relationship -- the continent -- that heretofore had not been expressed.

And so I certainly agree with the decision. I thought it was the right decision, an important decision to be made, and a decision that I was very happy to have been a part of even in its inception as it was being discussed about how we might be able to do it.

And then clearly, the great honor that I had when I was announced and then confirmed to be its first commander -- so the time was exactly right. It was important and needed, and we were able to devote, as we do today, a level of attention and focus, total priority given to our friends, our partners in Africa unlike it was ever done before by the three previous commands that had responsibilities. Not that they weren't doing good work, but how we could improve upon that and make it better by now a single command that focused on the entire continent.

Q: Right. And you talked about when you were deciding how to form the command up, what were some of the important things that were going through your mind of what people to get, how would we partner with interagency -- what were some of the things in the back of your mind that you said, you need -- we need to stand this Africa Command up, and we need to do it right. What were some of those thoughts in the early days?

GEN. WARD: Well, in the early days some of the thoughts were, okay, we are already operating on the continent. How do we stand up a new command and add value to the work that we've already -- that we're already doing, and certainly not cause any harm to be done to those things that are being done on the continent today -- or at that point in time.

And so when it came to how we would be organized, we needed to understand who was doing what, where. And so we needed to have persons inside of the command that could help us understand what was going on, on the continent. Clearly, we weren't the only actor involved -- other government agencies. So a part of the construct, when it said we would have this interagency look -- not so much that we would be doing the work of our interagency partners, but that our work complemented, was synchronized with -- it was done in a coherent way with things being done by others.

We needed to know what those things were, so we needed to have some understanding that was provided by other parts of our government: Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development -- clearly critical partners on the continent from the interagency. But others as well: Treasury, Commerce, the role of food on the continent -- our Agriculture Department. The issue of production, finances, how you deal with all of that -- again, not that we do any of that as our primary responsibility, but if we are to add value to those efforts by the other parts of our government, how do we -- how do we understand it?

And so having representation from those types of agencies in ways that help us understand what they were doing -- and probably just as important, so we could take their counsel, their guidance to help us form our work so that those activities were being planned and then conducted in ways that supported, that were complementary to the things being done by others in our government.

Q: Here we are, three years since. How is the activities with those interagency partners? What are some of the successes that they brought to the table, from your opinion?

GEN. WARD: Well, I think our ability to work with our various partners -- State Department, starting with our diplomacy efforts to ensure that what we're doing is consistent with our policy directions that we have coming from our national-level authorities. Our interagency -- Agency for International Development, USAID, how we understand the development work because clearly we know that when it comes to stability, it is development that puts the long-term pieces in place for a stable environment. When the people know that their society, their environment -- they can thrive in it, they can exist in it and they can prosper in it in ways that make a difference to them.

And then obviously our Treasury Department, Agriculture, others -- Drug Enforcement, helping to deal with the effects of narcotics and illegal trafficking; our Homeland Security Department, when it comes to coastal waters, protection of territorial waters, the law-enforcement piece that we don't do but we know that it's important for our partner nations.

Working with all those agencies with the programs that they have expertise in so that our work complements, and in fact, can support -- there are things that we can do, there are capabilities that we can provide that provide an assistance to them as they do that work with the partner nations. So all that's going on. And all of those are examples of how by working in a close way, coordinated way, we've been able to enhance the total effort of the United States government.

Q: Right. And one of the key members of the team, Sergeant Major Ripka -- what was your charge to Sergeant Major Ripka in terms of NCOs and warrant-officer development, and how do you think he's accomplished that?

GEN. WARD: Well, when it comes to a military structure and establishment, I take the experience of the United States and how the role of the noncommissioned officer -- such an instrumental role in the professionalism, the conduct, the actions, the performance of a military.

What Command Sergeant Major Ripka brings to this command, as well as to our partners, is an understanding, a knowledge and expertise of how the noncommissioned officer and warrant officers who are such a vitally important component of a military structure, how their professionalism, how the officers relate to them, how the officers reinforce and support them is such an important ingredient in producing and maintaining and having a competent, professional, disciplined total force that respects the rule of law, conduct themselves with discipline and accountability, and does it in a way that enhances the total effort.

Sergeant Major Ripka, through his efforts on the continent, throughout his time has been a shining example of what that means to be a professional noncommissioned officer, but more importantly providing the type of information, thoughts, perspectives that our partner nations can take, adapt to their locations and then use that to increase their professional development for the noncommissioned officers and the warrant officers.

They are the persons, the people, who touch our soldiers at echelon. They go in both directions. They interact with the officer corps. They directly touch the predominance of the force, guiding their activities and actions, providing the example to them, providing to the senior leadership the sort of perspective and understanding that helps in the decisions that are made.

What he has done in helping to promote that ethos, helping to promote that idea across the continent has been absolutely tremendous. It could not have been done better. Mark Ripka, through what he has done to set that in place, has left a legacy that will never be forgotten insofar as how he brought to life the meaning of being a professional noncommissioned officer and warrant officer by his example, by his understanding and knowledge and by his being able to relate that to our partners in ways that caused it to make a difference and to be understandable to them. Mark Ripka does that; he continues to do it. He will continue to do it.

There are none finer, none better. I'm proud to call him my buddy, my battle buddy, my partner who has just been -- he teaches me every day. I learn from him; and I know our partners on the continent, as well as this entire staff, has also learned from him in that approach.

Q: Sir, you talk about listening and learning from our partner at countries -- at African militaries. What are some examples of ways that, rather than us coming in and saying, hey, here's a program, we're going to do it for you, but actually listening to them, hearing what they said and actually helping them design programs that are meaningful to them? Can you give an example of that?

GEN. WARD: Well, you take this notion of these tactical leader cards, you know, something that provides a checklist, a model. Now, we can't just come and say, here, do it this way. What we can come in and do and say, okay, what is it that you want to accomplish? And if the answer is, well, we would like to have a professional corps of noncommissioned officers and warrant officers and officers for that matter -- that when it comes to getting a job assigned and then getting it done, what steps should we be taking to cause it to be a successful accomplishment of the mission?

From taking care of your people to understanding the mission, what resources have to be applied to it? What planning did you have to put in place to make that happen? We can't dictate that to our partners. The continent of Africa is huge, it's diverse -- different cultures, different histories, different experiences.

But what we can do is present a concept, an idea. And then based on their own individual circumstance, their locations, their culture, their history, their backgrounds, they can take that and then apply it to their situation, and doing that in a way that then becomes their own as opposed to just leading something with them that may not be applicable, may not be appropriate. And by doing what the command sergeant major has done, by doing what we try to do, not preach, not direct, not dictate, but to provide an example -- one way of doing it, "a" way, a way of getting the job done -- not "the" way, not the only way, but a way of getting the job done. And then having them apply their environment, their circumstances to that way, modify it as it may be so that it works for them where they are.

And I think through our approach to maintenance training, our approach to readiness training, our approach to physical training, our approach to the understanding, the professionalism of the force by providing just an example, by providing a way of getting the job done, it gives them a picture or perspective that may be something different than what they may have known in the past because of what their experiences have been -- opening the aperture, not that that is the only aperture, but exposing to new ideas, taking that new idea and applying it to their situation.

And from how you conduct troop-leading procedures to how you get ready to go on a mission, the things that you care about when it comes to preparing a soldier to do a job: what the equipment list is, who is checking that, what sort of pre-past functions have been performed, how do you check that, how do you do that work. Those are all basic things that can be applied to most formations. But then, take into what means something for the people where they are to the level that makes a difference for them.

Q: You talk about the regional approach. How is Africa Partnership Station the example of Africans coming to us with an issue and the United States designing a program that includes partners, that is meaningful to them?

GEN. WARD: The Africa Partnership Station is a program with an at-sea training platform that goes around various parts of the continent, taking the desires of our partner nations that they have for being more proficient in dealing with their maritime safety and security issues based on a conference that we conducted now over five years ago in this part of West Africa, in Benin, where chiefs of defense came together to address a common circumstance, a common challenge. And that is the protection of their territorial waters -- protecting those waters from illegal fishing, illegal trafficking of various commodities, and finding out what was needed to help them increase their capacity to provide for their own security in those territorial waters.

The Africa Partnership program is designed to take their requirements from our partners, the things that they need for their own coastal-security forces, navies, marine corps, coast guards, other territorial water-security forces, and based on the requirement for doing things like visiting, boarding, searching and seizing a vessel in your waters that you don't know who it is, doing it in a safe way, maintaining your maritime systems, the electrical systems, the type of work that's done by the crews onboard, how the crews do that work, APS -- Africa Partnership Station -- has a series of conferences leading up to a cruise that a ship may take.

This series of conferences listens to the various nations that might be a participant in this particular series of exercises that based on what they say they need training in -- the program designed to accommodate their needs -- an international staff is assembled so that it is not just U.S. personnel doing the training. It includes trainers from the nations participating. It includes trainers from other parts of the -- of the world, European partners that participate -- and bringing them all together in ways that causes them to then have a training platform, a training program that has been designed by them and for them on the things that will make a difference to them in moving ahead with their security requirements.

And that Africa Partnership Station is working today like gangbusters. It started off very small, but is now done almost on a continual basis, and not just in West Africa, but also being expanded into East Africa. Currently, the Robert G. Bradley in port -- visited there in Logo -- Togo -- Lomé, Togo. That APS vessel circumvented the continent a year-and-a-half ago. It's back again. So our partners see consistency; they see sustained security engagement. They know that they can depend on it. They know that what they say about the conduct of the program matters. And we take into account their desires, their goals, their objectives for enhancing their security posture, incorporate that into the program, have it taught by them, combine teams in a partnering way. And it just works. And it will continue to make a huge, huge difference in helping our partner nations increase their maritime safety, their security.

Q: President Obama talked a lot more about Africa, and the 3-D approach: defense, diplomacy and development. How do you think that the overall U.S. government goals are achieved through the military piece? And how do you partner with both the State Department in their diplomacy, and USAID in development?

GEN. WARD: Well, we do it at echelon. The notion of the integration of diplomacy, development and defense -- and in environment -- is one that is not new, but one that we have tried to bring to life. Because we think we understand the importance of all three of those elements working together to help create a more stable environment. It's all about stability. It's all about stability.

And so you have a policy, governance that presents the type of guidelines, presents a type of baseline engagement that sets the stage for continuing to work together, that has ideals and goals that promote peace, security, stability, the good of the people, and then development because we know that for societies to flourish, they have got to develop. They have to evolve socially, economically, from educational programs to health and welfare programs, economic programs.

But for those things to work, you need secure space. You need a basis of security. They won't thrive, though, and you won't have total stability without those other three elements also working.

And so within Africa Command, within our components, we try to work with our embassies, the country teams, our USAID partners, and others to help cause our work to be supportive of, to reinforce the work that's being done by our other partners and friends. So defense -- security becomes a supporting aspect to the diplomatic policies that are made, to the defense goals that are established so that we have a cohesive, coherent approach to helping to achieve a more stable environment.

The 3D approach accomplishes that. It works when you just -- you sit down, you talk about what each other is doing to ensure that our programs are in fact cohesive, they're synchronized, they're harmonized in ways that causes a total effect to be created that leads to more stability. They all have to work together. Neither one of them works by itself.

If you have security -- but without development and issues of governance for the people -- then that doesn't work very long. If you have development but there's not a secure environment, you don't people that want to come in and invest and spend their dollars to help uplift a society. And clearly, you have to have all that encompassed in an area of good governance: governance that matters, that has its people as its basis of what it does.

Q: Here we are three years into U.S. Africa Command. What do you consider some of your highlights, successes here now?

GEN. WARD: Well, I'll leave that for others to decide what the successes are. But what I would say is that I think, based on how we have approached our work on the continent, with our partners, our friends, we've created an environment that they know that we will listen to them, that we will pay attention to them, that we're not going anywhere, that where we started -- when the situation existed where there was anxiety and suspicion about our motives -- those things that were questionable then have by and large been taken off the table. And there are folks who willingly partner with us, who want to partner more with us and ask us what more can we do in support of our common objectives and areas.

And so I would say that as this command is now formed, there's a baseline that's been set. A foundation has been established upon which we can continue to grow. And the good men and women, both uniformed and civilian, of the command will continue to make those strides together, working with our African partners, our international partners, our interagency partners and coming together to cause our efforts to be supportive of this total effort in helping to achieve more stability.

And I think that is something that all who have been a part of it, not just Kip Ward but the entire team, both the team on the continent, the team at headquarters in Stuttgart, the team in England, the team in Tampa -- all the team has been instrumental in helping to create that type of environment where the work of the command and support of its partners is enhanced and will continue.

Q: You talk about the skepticism when AFRICOM was newly stood up and you now talk about that we've turned a corner. What is the basis of your understanding that we've now turned a corner? What do you hear from the African partners that gives you that assurance?

GEN. WARD: Well, sometimes it's very direct and sometimes it's through anecdotes. Very directly, I hear from partners across the continent -- north, south, east, west -- what more can you do for us, in support of us? We want more engagement.

Can you provide addition support in various areas, from military-to-military training, to military equipment provision, to helping to prepare for peacekeeping operations that they are all doing, to the continued professionalization of the force, just as we do, providing a level of interaction between military members that we bring to the partnership, their military members -- wanting more and more of that.

Anecdotally, it's reflected in what I hear when a unit or a security will say, because of your support and assistance, we're now doing this for ourselves. We're now training our own peacekeepers based on the support that we received from you. We're now looking at peacekeeping operations in a different way because of how we've seen you do it. It's what we see in places where there're sometimes problems.

And militaries -- unlike the past, may have been involved in some extra-constitutional way -- are no longer doing that. They understand their role -- their proper role -- in a republican society where they are not there to prop up a regime but to protect their people and their constitution by remaining neutral. And we see that in many places as well.

So I think directly, when we're told that because of you we are better, can you do more -- and obviously, getting the resources for that is difficult in today's environment; we certainly do our best. But also anecdotally because of our military-to-military engagement and the actions that these militaries are taking and in some cases not taking because of the association, the relationship over time that we've been able to establish with them. And that's something that they want to continue and they ask for more of.

Q: When AFRICOM was initially stood up, there were a lot of places that didn't want to have anything to do with AFRICOM. During the last two years, some doors have been opened. I'm thinking Algeria, Libya, Namibia. What do you attribute those openings -- the foot in the door, if you will -- to what we've done? What do you think is the reason for that?

GEN. WARD: Well, when the command was stood up, there was a lot of speculation about what it would be. And the thought it might be a colonizing force, it would be a force that would come in with huge numbers and militarize and take over -- we set about very deliberately with a message that we are not about that. We're about supporting your goals, your objectives. We're not about occupying your continent -- the continent.

And that message has been reinforced by our actions. The things that we have done, what has been seen reflect what we said the command would be. And I think, in very, very substantial terms and ways, it has been those actions that we've taken that have been supportive of the message that we sent and that we continue to send that has caused those who were skeptical at the beginning to now see that it's not what we thought then. It's something that we are proud and happy and desire to be a part of now.

And the overtures, the outreach to in fact be associated with the command -- it grows stronger every day.

Q: Can you talk about the challenges in Africa? We talk about Somalia, Sudan, Côte d'Ivoire and all these problems in Africa. Could you also talk about opportunities? What do you think are the opportunities? And what do you think are some positives that are going on in Africa that the American people don't know about but need to.

GEN. WARD: Well, when it comes to how we, through our engagement and our interaction, have helped to create stability in places where you might not otherwise think. When you look at the fact that over 50 percent of peacekeeping forces in Africa are from African nations as opposed to someplace else, that's the result of Africans taking ownership of their security situation, their environment.

And then where they need assistance, some support to do that in a more effective way, we have been there to help provide that support along with other parts of our government. To be sure, our Department of State.

And I think when you look at the opportunities -- you look at places like where you have transition of government that has occurred in peaceful ways, places like Ghana, Botswana. You have Tanzania that has changed in its approach to how we do business. And so those are the places that make a difference. Here in Senegal, where you have a professional force that's leading in its regional approach to things.

You see things going on in the central part of the continent where you have nations that are now working together to address a common threat. The Lord's Resistance Army in Central Africa where before, these things were not done in a good way because nations were pitting each other against each other.

They're now cooperating together to make a difference to go deal with a common threat. I think those are the opportunities that we continue to reinforce, that we continue to support so that neighbors working better together, Africans working together for security and peace throughout the continent.

And we see those opportunities that are not just emerging but exist and we are continuing to reinforce as we do our mil-to-mil engagement, our military-to-military engagement, our activities that are civil-military in nature, but are in support of more stable environment through our various civic action programs, our civil-military operations, our civil affairs programs, all in support of a more stable environment and our better understanding of the environment so that when we do what we do on the continent, it's done with their perspectives in mind.

Q: Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa -- they've been doing a lot of work in East Africa. What do you think are some of their big successes and what do you think they're doing to help bring peace and stability to that region?

GEN. WARD: Well, the Combined Joint Task Force there in the Horn of Africa obviously is in an area that has a lot of concern for many parts of the world. What the Combined Joint Task Force does through its military-to-military engagement, through its civil-military operations, its civil affairs activities, reaching out to populations, working with partner militaries as they attempt to be better able to provide for their own security.

But also touching populations as we do our civil affairs projects, our civil-military operations and bringing into that construct, our partner-nation militaries so that the people see militaries working on their behalf doing very specific things in their support from helping to refurbish a school, why we work with the USAID in the development and we bring some -- some labor to it to get a facility stood up, from providing water in a place that may not have it.

That will help that environment be a bit more stable, to doing those sorts of things that causes the local population to see that through this joint work, United States military, their own nation's military working together on their behalf. It's been a huge, huge benefit. And then when it comes to the work being done by the Combined Joint Task Force to help the professional development of a military in the Horn of -- on the Horn of Africa as well as other parts of Eastern Africa, the same effects are being created.

Working side by side with Americans, Americans in uniform and what that promotes, what that provides is a tremendous example of leadership, but more importantly, a friendship and partnership that they know they can rely on us to be a partner with them and these steady day-to-day presence of the Combined Joint Task Force provides that to East Africa.

Q: You talk a lot about programs such as the State Department's program against sexual and gender-based violence, how we as a military need to incorporate that into day-to-day training, kind of like maintenance. Can you talk a little bit about that philosophy?

GEN. WARD: Well, there are certain things that fall in the rubric of how professionals conduct themselves. It's values, it's attitudes, it's behavior. It's -- some of that, like for us, it's learned. I mean you learn things from others. You learn from observing. You learn from watching. Some of these basic values are human -- human nature values.

You know, treating people with respect and dignity regardless of who they are. What we see is in all of our engagement, how can we be a more effective body for reflecting basic values in all that we do, from how you treat one another, this issue of sexual and gender-based violence and how that is such a negative in society to how we continue to reinforce that, just like you want to reinforce being safe in all you do, being good stewards of your environment in all you do.

So we have taken those approaches and applied them in our military-to-military engagement at echelon and all we do, reinforcing those messages of how professionals conduct themselves in a society where they, as a military, are contributors to stability as opposed to not.

And so the whole idea -- the whole theme is, in all that we do in our engagement, to be reinforcing the messages of how professionals conduct themselves so that they are seen as protectors and contributors of security and stability in their societies as opposed to those who use it, abuse it and otherwise contribute to its downfall. And so our approach to our training, our military engagement is always to reinforce those aspects of positive behavior.

Q: We're talking a lot about terrorism. Where do you see the problem of terrorism now and what do you think the nations of Africa with America's military assistance is doing to address that?

GEN. WARD: Well, terrorism is global. So it exists in Africa as it exists all over the world. The Islamic Maghreb, al-Qaida and Islamic Maghreb, East Africa, places where violent extremist organizations exist, where someone would do something against an innocent civilian that exists all over. It exists on the continent of Africa.

What we see are the nations of Africa who will come together to address these common threats in their region, various programs we have in place in the Maghreb working with the partner militaries because first, they have come together and said themselves, we want to address this common problem of violent extremism, of actions being taken by those who would seek to do harm against innocent civilians.

It's going on across the continent, certainly going on in East Africa, Somalia, other parts of the East African continent. We saw during the summer [World Cup], the bombings in Kampala in Uganda there. So other places where you have violent extremist activities going on and how nations have decided that we want to do something about that and come together and working.

And so that togetherness is working in the Maghreb, where the nations of the North and West Africa to deal with the -- the Sahelian issue, working together, our support and assistance to that along with other nations as well, other international partners in East Africa, the Horn of Africa, deal with the threat there, but also in other places where the threat of illegal activities, from drug trafficking that begets violent extremism. All of those things are being addressed and I see a level of cooperation among nations that's encouraging.

Q: One of the areas of cooperation is this exercise called Africa Endeavor. More and more countries have actually come together. Where do you see the value added of something like that, an exercise like that and what do you think it is for the future?

GEN. WARD: Africa Endeavor, as the nations look at their ability to conduct peacekeeping operations, as the African Union, as the continental organization, as the sub-continental organizations, that is -- are formed through the Africa Standby Forces and the regional economic communities.

They come together to say as we participate in peacekeeping operations our ability to command and control our formations needs to be enhanced. Africa Endeavor is a great example of how we, in partnership with our African friends, have taken what started out as a purely technical endeavor, now, to be something that can be used in a way that will cause a higher degree of command and control to be exercised as African nations participate in peacekeeping operations so that those field formations, those troops out in the field that are doing the work, have a closer link to their command headquarters both in their nations at the Africa Standby Force level, the regional level, but also at the continental level, the African Union level. That program is -- continues to evolve over the last, now, four, five years.

More and more reflective of what the Africans want it to be, doing the things that they have goals and objectives and we're just happy to support it. The same is true for FLINTLOCK, another exercise, whereby nations come together, working regionally to deal with a common terror problem, a common violent extremist problem.

Other exercises, Natural Fire, nations coming together in a region to deal with a natural disaster or deal with the aftermath of a -- some issue of humanitarian assistance that requires them to cooperate together. Our exercise program has been able to facilitate to support their efforts to deal with these common problems.

African Lion in North Africa, whereby given some of the infrastructural weaknesses in many places, this year, demonstrating how bringing logistics over the shore through unimproved port structures can be done to help bring stability, to help bring supplies to a situation that might require some aid and assistance. But all these things are being done in a way that shows the population that these security enhancements are working in their benefit.

Q: So as you turn over Africa Command to General Ham, what are your visions for the long term? Where do you see Africa Command in 20 years? And what do you think we need to do to enhance that reputation into the future?

GEN. WARD: Well, I think regardless of who the commander of this command is, it's about what -- the spirit and soul of the command, how we see our work and our business, being a listening partner, being a partner that understands from the perspective of others, understands the environment a bit better and work hard to understand it better, devote attention to that so that when we engage -- when we are a part of any activity, we approach it not from our own point of view, but from the point of view of our friends, our partners and others so that the effort makes a difference and makes sense to our partners.

And when we do that, it will cause a security environment for the next 10, 20, 50 years that will be more stable than today. And that's going to be good for America. It's going to be good for America's children. It'll be good for Africa's children. It will be good for children of the world. And my vision is that I see that just getting better.

The foundation has been laid and I see it continuing to improve as we move ahead and that's going to be because of the men and women who wear the nation's uniform as well as our great civilians who are part of this team working in ways with our partners that says that first and foremost, we want to team with you. We want to do our best to support what you're doing. And when those things are in line with our foreign policy, we all will benefit from that work.

And I see the command, over the next 10, 20 years, just getting better and better at that, being a model for other combatant commands around the world insofar as how you deal with a partner, how you make a difference, where stability -- long-term stability is the goal to prevent crisis from arising as opposed to having to react to a crisis.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

GEN. WARD: No. (Laughter.)

Q: All right. Well done. I think that's a wrap.

GEN. WARD: I do want -- I do have a couple of things here, quickly. First and foremost, what this is about is about the team that assembled for this command. And I think one of the things that gives me such a good feeling is that the men and women who come to this team come here understanding what this is about and their role that they play in causing their teammates to be better, to enhancing their teammates by their actions.

And when that happens, the entire team moves forward. The effort moves forward. The partnership moves forward. And so the whole thing is doing what you do every day that will cause your actions to be actions that propels the entire team forward and to be able to say that you know, based on what I'm doing, it's not about promoting self, but about promoting my teammate.

And those who come behind me who see what I do would say yeah, what that person did, I'd like to do the same thing. Or what that person did, I'm proud of. But probably most importantly, that you are proud of it yourself.

I talked about you know, walking in footprints that you leave that causes those who come behind you to say, yep, I want to walk in those same footprints. It doesn't happen if we aren't paying attention to that so that doing what you do, leaving footprints that you would be glad to say, yeah, my footprints are footprints that someone that I have the highest regard for, if they walked in those footprints, that'd be fine with me. And someone who sees them and knows what you've done, they would say, I want to walk in those same footprints as well. That's what this is about. The good news is, the U.S. AFRICOM team does what it does every day with that in mind.

Q: That's a public service announcement there, I think. (Chuckles.)

Q: (Inaudible.) That's perfect.

Q: All right. We got all these questions answered in a way, shape or form.

Q: I think so.

Q: All right.

(END)
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