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TRANSCRIPT: U.S. AFRICOM's Change of Command Ceremony
<i>U.S. Army General Carter F. Ham assumed command of U.S. Africa Command from General William E. Ward during a ceremony March 9, 2011, at the Stadthalle in Sindelfingen, Germany. <br /> <br />The change-of-command ceremony was attended by
U.S. Army General Carter F. Ham assumed command of U.S. Africa Command from General William E. Ward during a ceremony March 9, 2011, at the Stadthalle in Sindelfingen, Germany.

The change-of-command ceremony was attended by approximately 700 people, including staff members and dignitaries from the United States, Germany, and other European nations. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James E. Cartwright both provided opening remarks.

A transcript of remarks from the ceremony is included below: (See also: U.S. Africa Command Welcomes New Commander) General James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff GENERAL JAMES E. CARTWRIGHT: (In progress) -- what these ladies and gentlemen do day in and day out in the AOR. It's one of the first things that budget-cutters go after. And yet, the work they do and the image that they portray for our country abroad really is magnificent and so my hat's off. Thank you very much for what you do day in, day out. The second one is another one that a long-time friend, somebody that I have served next to over multiple tours that, in a few days, will also step down -- Sergeant Major Ripka -- really, a phenomenal soldier, an example for us all. And he will truly be missed. I know his replacement will do wonderful things. But Sergeant Major Ripka has been a rock through my time at the United States Strategic Command all the way through to the standup of this command and getting it on its feet. And so my hat's off to Sergeant Major Ripka. Thank you. (Applause.) Africa -- it's a vast continent with tremendous natural resources. But its treasure is its people. And that is something that General Ward has brought to this command since its standup in October of 2007. This continent of over 50 countries, over a billion people. But its people are where he focused this command and where this command has led from the front. Today, we acknowledge the transfer of command and authority and responsibility as it moves between General Ward and General Ham. This ceremony acknowledges that transfer. And it also says to us in our acknowledgement for General Ward, who has been a soldier for over 40 years, a statesman, a commander battle-hardened. I can recall some of the early conversations that we had in the -- in 2007. You know, where exactly is it we're going to have the command headquarters? What buildings are we going to get? Where will our people live? Where will we get these people? What kind of people are going to come? All of those questions we worked our way through. And General Ward and Joyce put a face on this command, put value in the people not only in the region, but the people in the command. It has been their trademark. It has been, and will be, their legacy. They have done a fantastic job. And I thank you both, Kip and Joyce. Thank you -- (applause). For General Ham, welcome. A soldier, a scholar, a combat veteran both in the field and, to his great chagrin, in Washington. (Laughter.) I served beside him when he was in J-3 and the J-3. He is the right person for this job. He brings a full toolkit to the job. And he and Christi will be a great team for this command and for the people they serve. It's a full-time job. There might be a few things on the plate right now. (Laughter.) And I'm sure the future will have a few challenges as we go forward. So Carter, it's time to open up the toolkit and get to work. (Laughter.) Thank you so much. I have the great honor of introducing the secretary of defense, Secretary Gates. (Applause.) (END) ------------------------------------------------ Secretary Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: First, let me apologize for delaying the beginning of the ceremony by 25 minutes. Then again, it wasn't too long ago that coming directly from Kabul to Stuttgart would have easily been 25 days late. (Laughter.) First and foremost, I'd like to thank all the men and women serving at AFRICOM who, under General Ward's leadership, successfully tackled the challenge of setting up a new combatant command. The first leader of any organization defines it more than any other. And under three years, General Ward has forged a command that ably protects vital U.S. interests, promotes stability and builds key capabilities among our allies. I'd also like to thank Kip's wife Joyce, his son KJ and his daughter Kahni for their sacrifices and support along the way. Today, we're also honoring Joyce for her tireless work both for the people of Africa and for our troops and families stationed far from home. General Ward's success here at AFRICOM has been no surprise for those of us who know his impressive four-decade-long career, including a remarkable 13 command and numerous staff assignments, posts that fostered a range of critical skills that this position demanded. To name just a few, he coordinated the day-to-day activities of our forces operating across dozens of far-flung countries as deputy commander of U.S. European Command. He commanded a stabilization force during Operation Joint Force in Sarajevo. He led the 10th Mountain Division, 2nd Brigade, during Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. And finally, he endured and survived multiple Pentagon tours -- (laughter) -- most notably as vice director of operations, J-3. When we first announced the creation of AFRICOM with its regional focus and institutional inclusion of State and USAID personnel, there was, to put it mildly, a certain amount of skepticism. Some feared the command represented the first steps to a major U.S. military presence in Africa; others, that it would lead to an unacceptable militarization of U.S. foreign and development policy. As I said then, and still believe, when crime, terrorism, natural disasters, economic turmoil, ethnic fissures and disease can be just as destabilizing as traditional military threats, we need to fuse old understandings of security with new concepts of how security, stability and development go hand in hand. From the moment he took command, Kip Ward demonstrated the worth of this concept by keeping his eye on the mission, promoting African security by building the capacity of partner nations and organizations. In Liberia, as that nation rebuilds from its horrific civil war, AFRICOM has worked closely with and through the State Department to help Liberians provide for their own security, mentoring Liberian forces and helping the country develop a coast guard to fight drug smugglers and human trafficking. Our troops have partnered with the African Union as mentors to their mission in Somalia, AMISOM, which less than a month ago successfully shut down armed smuggling operations and seized key al-Shabaab bases in Mogadishu. As Kip himself put it at a think tank event last year, African leaders are no longer asking why is AFRICOM here, but rather, what more can AFRICOM do to help. The potential for progress across the African continent has never been greater, nor the other challenges. In North Africa, we see people fighting for political change, from a revolution in Libya to -- in southern Sudan, a new nation coming into being. Throughout the region, nations are struggling to give their fast-growing populations liberty, basic necessities and greater opportunities while fighting the scourges of terrorism, corruption and piracy. AFRICOM must continue its role in promoting this progress, preventing conflict and bolstering basic stability, stability that serves the best interests of the United States and the peoples of Africa. General Ward will be a tough act to follow. But I believe few are better suited to that task than General Carter Ham, who in over 35 years of service has never shied away from a tough job, be it peacekeeping in Macedonia, commanding Multinational Brigade-North in Mosul during the darkest days of the Iraq war, leading the investigation into the tragic Fort Hood shootings or ushering the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" survey through a political minefield. Carter, I've been told that all those years ago, you only became an officer because a very persuasive staff sergeant submitted your application to ROTC for you -- (laughter) -- and then ordered you to attend -- (laughter). We're all very grateful to that sergeant. With Christi by your side, I know you'll accomplish great things here. Kip, thank you for your life of dedicated and selfless service to our nation. I wish you and Joyce all the best as you begin this next chapter of your lives. (Applause.) (END) ------------------------------------------------ Citation of Awards for General William E. Ward and Joyce Ward (Applause.) MAJOR ERIC HILLIARD: The secretary of defense will now present awards to General and Mrs. Ward. Mrs. Ward is joining the official party on stage for the presentation of the awards. First, Secretary Gates will now present General Ward with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal. Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated for the presentations of all awards. General Ward, United States Army, distinguished himself by exceptionally distinguished service as the combatant commander, headquarters, United States Africa Command from 1 October 2007 to 9 March 2011. During this period of command establishment and high operations tempo, General Ward's outstanding leadership, planning expertise, team-building, communications skills and direction contributed to the successful, accelerated startup of the United States Africa Command. His diligence, vision and attention to detail facilitated the ability of the U.S. Africa Command leadership to bring the command from a presidential announcement to a unified command status in 19 months. General Ward initiated dozens of new programs and built strategic relationships that established the initial legacy of the command, one that listens and learns from its partners. The exemplary and distinctive accomplishments of General Ward reflect great credit upon himself, the United States Army, U.S. Africa Command and the Department of Defense. (Applause.) Ladies and gentlemen, Mrs. Ward will now receive the Distinguished Public Service Award for exceptionally distinguished public service to the Department of Defense in a myriad of extraordinary voluntary contributions to the civilian, Department of Defense and allied and partner-nation communities from 1 October 2007 to 9 March 2011. Mrs. Ward championed quality-of-life initiatives for military service members and their families. Mrs. Ward identified the need to develop a forum in which United States military family members living in Africa could address the significant quality-of-life challenges they faced. Her efforts resulted in a forum that gave the command, the staff and the United States military family members living in Africa a venue to express quality-of-life initiatives and opportunities. Through her distinguished accomplishments, Mrs. Ward's devotion to duty, leadership and selfless service reflect great credit upon herself, the United States Africa Command and the Department of Defense. (Applause.) (END) ------------------------------------------------ General William E. Ward, outgoing commander of U.S. Africa Command MR. : (In progress) -- General William E. "Kip" Ward. (Applause.) GENERAL WILLIAM E. "KIP" WARD: Thanks for being here today. This is a day that Joyce and I knew would eventually come. We don't feel good about it; we don't feel bad about it -- it's a day we knew would come. (Laughter.) And we're so glad that all of you are here to share this very special day with us. We're blessed to have had the opportunities that we have been afforded to work with each of you in some capacity or another along the way. And there are so many people to thank on this day, time won't allow me to get to them all. But there are a few I'd mention before I speak directly to the men and women of the United States Africa Command. Secretary Gates, sir, I just know what it means for you to have taken this trip to be here. I don't take it for granted. I thank you very, very much for being here. And it's as if those weekly meetings that we used to have, either by VTC or you would haul me back to Washington, D.C., to answer those questions that General Cartwright mentioned that we were being asked every day -- but in all of that, sir, no greater boss, no greater supporter, no finer champion. And your vision for what this command would be and its importance we are living. Sir, I thank you for your leadership, your strength, your friendship and all that you do that causes all of us to be so proud to be members of the United States Department of Defense. Thank you very much, sir. (Applause.) (Inaudible, background noise) -- the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General "Hoss" Cartwright. The grand -- (inaudible) -- the phone calls that Jim and I had as we'd talk about access and resources and this and that -- I just want you to know how much I always appreciated -- and even at the end of the phone line, I could always see that smile that you have there and say, it's not so bad. And it just kind of reminds me of what I said to my team: Until they're shooting bullets at me, we'll get through this. So I appreciate your attitude and your support dearly. Thanks very much for being here as well, sir. (Applause.) There are many in the audience -- and lest I make a huge, huge error -- and not also one -- I shudder to even do this, but there are some that I must say a particular welcome to. And I'll start with our ambassador to Germany, Ambassador and Mrs. Murphy. Phil, thanks for being here and thanks for what you do to promote our relationship here with this great country and all that you do to cause this relationship to be so, so important and so meaningful. Thank you so much for being here. Also, I'd like to acknowledge my buddy, Duncan McNabb. Duncan was -- General McNabb commanded U.S. Transportation Command and he was here when we stood this command up. So you're representing my fellow combatant commanders, Duncan, thank you, sir, for your presence. Ambassador Johnnie Carson -- Johnnie, who is our assistant secretary of state for African affairs -- constant confidante, dialogue, contact. And Johnnie, your being here -- and I know how busy you are as well, today, sir, so I thank you for your presence. We've got some who are not present -- and I won't call names -- but obviously representing various parts of our government, both Department of Defense, Department of State and others. But I'd like to mention Assistant Secretary McCarthy, who's here; Sam Locklear, my naval component commander who is also now in command of the Joint Taskforce -- (inaudible). Sam, I don't know how you stuck with it but I'm sure glad you did, buddy. (Laughter.) Great to have you here, as well. There are several of our foreign liaison officers here, but also members of our international community, our family of nations who represent their militaries of their respective nations. And won't endeavor to call each of you, but know that I appreciate your presence. We appreciate your support. We appreciate your teamwork for being here. To the ambassadors, Your Excellencies, who are here representing various missions, from foreign policy advisors to being mission directors in various countries, thank you for your presence, for being here. And to all the members of the international community, thank you for your support. I thank all the interagency staff here today for your invaluable support to a common vision of a comprehensive effort to assist our African partners through sustained security engagement. Our work together in integrating the diplomatic, the developmental and the defense aspects of pursuing our national interests, and doing it at echelon, is noted by many as a model, as we attempt to build partner capacity. To my command leadership team -- Ambassador Tony Holmes, Vice Admiral Joe Leidig, Major General Rick Sherlock and, as Hoss pointed out, my battle buddy now for a whole lot of years, Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka -- the best soldier I know -- my directors and component commanders, all of you -- thanks for being here. Thank you for your leadership -- those that are here, those that are present, those that have been here and now gone -- for all that you have done and for sharing this day with us. To my German friends, who have been such great hosts, and will continue to be, for not just U.S. AFRICOM, but as a senior military officer here in Stuttgart, for all of us who reside here both uniformed and civilian, as well as our families -- thank you for your support. Thank you for your friendship. And thank you for welcoming us into this magnificent, magnificent city and state. To the members of the German defense establishment who are here -- Vice Admiral Kuhn, General Ari, our very, very fine joint response force commander, Markus Bentler, to the representatives of the local community -- there's Davan Recht (ph), who is here on behalf of the minister-president, as well as my very good friend, Herr Siegfried Stumpf, here in Stuttgart -- thank you for your undying support. And finally, to General Helmut Umbauer (sp), who is representing the German defense department, thank you, sir, for your great support for this team. To the various mayors, all the honorary council members who are here who we've gotten to know over the years, thank you for your total support. To community leaders of Stuttgart and the surrounding areas, thank you for the tremendous support you've given Joyce and me, personally, and, as I've indicated, to the Americans who reside here in this wonderful and supportive community. We have a lot of special friends here, and I won't endeavor to name you, but you all know who you are. I thank you for your presence and I thank you for always making time for your American friends. I was often asked, Mr. Secretary, as I traveled around, well, Ward, where will you put the command? And my response was, I only asked one country for this headquarters to be located in and that was Germany, and they said, yes. And every day, they remind me of how gratified and grateful they are that to be here -- and not just for the economic piece, but for the importance of this relationship and what it means to all of us. And I thank all of you here for making that the case. So if Carter speaks German, Kip Ward speaks Schwabish. (Laughter.) So in my best Schwabish, Joyce und ich sind gesegnet worden,unter solchen wunderbaren Freunden und Gastgebern in Baden-WWrttemberg ffr mehr als 8 Jahren gelebt zu haben, zuerst in Heidelberg und jetzt in Stuttgart. Sie haben uns und das ganze US-amerikanische Militar und Zivilpersonal in diesem wunderbaren Teil Deutschlands begruesst. Ihre Unterstutzung und Partnerschaft wird reich geschhtzt. Wir schatzen unsere Freundschaft, und wir wissen, dass die Beziehungen die wir aufgebaut haben unser ganzes Leben dauern werden. Diese Gemeinschaft hat uns begrrrrrÃt und zusammen haben wir die Staerke einer Bindung zwischen unseren zwei Nationen demonstriert- dieser widerspiegelt sich, auf dem personlichen Niveau. Wir freuen uns darauf, in Kontakt zu bleiben und auf unsere Urlaubsbesuche nach Deutschland. Wir sagen nicht Auf Wiedersehen sondern bis bald!, und bis wir uns wieder treffen. Now, for you Americans that only speak English -- (applause, laughter) -- what I said was, "This has been great. We have a lot of great friends here and we're coming back." (Laughter.) I know ceremonies like this are difficult to plan and so a quick thanks to Lieutenant Colonel Cy Klopotek and Sergeant Major Bob Collier, who had a great hand in pulling this together with a great, great staff. And as was pointed out by General Cartwright, let me thank the teammates, my shipmates from U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa in this band. All over the continent, I've watched you travel and I've been in many of those places -- and in fact, you kick me out from time to time and won't let me play with you, I don't mind, it's okay. (Laughter.) Thank you for what you do and thank you through your music what you do in promoting relationships that last and that will endure. You are truly ambassadors for America. Thank you for your support and for being here this morning. To Staff Sergeant Wolfe, my buddy, who, during my days at U.S. Army Europe, a while ago, and at EUCOM -- been there -- thank you for being here and bringing those great renditions of our two national anthems. You're a great soldier. You're a professional. And we respect you and love you dearly. Thank you so much. To Ms. Juandalynn Abernathy who, if you don't know, if you've heard the name Dr. Ralph Abernathy -- his daughter -- living here in Germany for 30 years -- not quite, 20 years -- I'm rounding it. (Laughter.) But Juandalynn, thank you for singing "That's What Friends Are For." She is an opera singer -- a soprano opera singer. So when Kip Ward says, can you sing this pop tune, she looked at me, what are you talking about, man? (Laughter.) But your presence is meaningful, significant because of what you represent from both of our worlds and I thank you for lending that beautiful voice to all of us to hear in a song that I hope meant something to each of us here about being friends in good times and in bad times -- sustained security engagement. Thank you, ma'am, for helping us send that message. For those who I've missed, there's an African tradition that, sometimes I say it and I get in trouble; sometimes I say it and I get applause. But I look up and I see my African ambassadors from that have been to the continent -- Canavan and Matisse (ph) and others. When I say all protocol observed, you know what I'm talking about. So all protocol observed if I had my chance and may have missed you. The story of U.S. Africa Command's establishment is still of those unsung heroes who dedicated themselves to the idea that a recognition of Africa's growing strategic importance to the United States and to the Department of Defense needed a new construct that better aligned the department's programs and activities in serving our African partners' needs and in meeting our national security interests. It fell upon these unsung heroes to turn that idea into a reality through good, solid work, both in staff processes and in our activities on the continent. The journey began in August of 2006 -- yes, August of 2006 -- when I, as the deputy commander of U.S. European Command was tasked by the Joint Staff and then EUCOM commander General Jim Jones to come up with a concept for a new command. I worked closely with some folks -- not here, but certainly worth noting: Colonel Wes Anderseon, Colonel Cheryl Smart -- who had just helped me with EUCOM's strategy of active security that emphasized judicious application of programs and activities to build partner security capacity to address modern threats, to help prevent conflict. This concept was applied to the foundation of U.S. AFRICOM's approach. That implementation planning team convened in November, 2006. They pulled together this proposal and others regarding timelines and specific areas for establishing the new command. This was an interagency effort with about 25 members representing USAID -- the U.S. Agency for International Development -- Department of State, the Joint Staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Pacific Command, as well as each of our services. The transition team stood up in February and they worked hard to establish the organizational design and structure to bring the command to initial operating capacity on 1 October, 2007. These plank holders were working together -- plank holders, joint -- hooah (laughter) were working together building the team and the command at an extremely fast pace. There's an illustration we would use -- and you've seen it -- airplanes flying, winds flapping, has no skin on it, but it's still doing its job. And that's what we were doing. We were flying the airplane as we were accomplishing the mission. This command would not be where it is today without the efforts of these critical plank holders, and some of whom, I'll specifically mention: Vice Admiral Bob Moeller, who led that implementation team, was my deputy for military operations. And I'd also like to ask you to keep Bob and his family in prayer as these days go on. And now, Vice Admiral Joe Leidig; I've mentioned Ambassador Tony Holmes; Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates, who was my deputy for civil-military affairs, who came over to the command with me from EUCOM, where she was serving as a foreign policy advisor; Ambassador Lanier, who has been my foreign policy advisor and now is followed by Dr. Ray Brown; Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka, as we've mentioned -- my right hand in pushing the NCO cause in Africa that we know is so important to a professional military -- it's non-commissioned officers. And why do we pay attention to them? Mark Ripka ensures that in ways that matter and that matter and make a difference. Mark, I thank you for all that you've done for me, the command and all the militaries across the African continent. Mike Snodgrass, my chief of staff, with the job he had -- and now being carried on in such a fine, fine way by our current chief, Rick Sherlock. My directors, from Major General Tony Jackson, Major General Tim Buck (ph), Major General Buz Altshulter -- Buz is here with us -- Mr. Terry Ford, Major General Paul Capasso, and now, Brigadier General Bob Ferrell. Ms. Heidi Grant -- and now we've got another good friend -- where's Jeanne Karstens -- Ms. Jeanne Karstens and Mr. Paul Saxton. Each of you is so meaningful to this command and where we are. And with them, highly trained, competent officers, non-commissioned officers and civilians whose contributions were beyond extraordinary. Many are here today. Many are gone on, from Joe Hoeing to Jim DeAngelis to David Cooper to Jim Welton, Pat Mackin, Rick Jackson, Colonel D.A. Harris, my executive officer, Vic Woben (ph), Ralph Mintel (sp), Jim Herron, Mark Nickson, Doc Gellar, John Lightner, Brian Perry, Martha McSally, Dick Benjamin, Paul Daniels, Tim Hughes, Rich Fields, Jane Antonovich from the Treasury Department, Bob Leavitt, Shannon Connor-Jones (ph), Sergeant Martin running resources, Sergeant E-5, shouldering responsibilities far beyond what anyone imagined. Fantastic folks. This is a unique command comprised of interagency members, soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines, civilians, contractors, foreign liaison officers. Frankly, it is the people of this command who make a difference. And I include their families who allow them to be all that they can be. Those are the ones who make this command a world-class organization. You produce amazing results every day by coming together for a purpose greater than yourselves and doing what I've always said is important -- something every day to make your teammates better to improve the lives of those around you. It is the spirit of teamwork, the willingness to listen to ideas other than our own and the recognition of the important contributions of each and every member that makes this command work. We have come a long way from validating AFRICOM's staff ability to accept the full set of missions, activities, programs and exercises that we're engaged in today, from accepting missions like African Lion, from PACOM, EUCOM and CENTCOM to developing and conducting our own exercises, such as Natural Fire, which trained U.S. and African forces from five different countries in a region to work together in ways unlike before. That's what stability, in the long run, is about -- not us doing it partly with neighbors and friends, but that they are in a position to do it for themselves. We must not stray from that objective. Obviously, I cannot highlight all the newest operations, activities and military engagements that have been conducted during my tenure in command of this outstanding outfit. The Africa Partnership Station, Flintlock, a series of mil-to-mil engagements where, soldier-by-soldier, sailor-by-sailor, airman-by-airman, Marine corpsman-by-Marine corpsman, coast guard-by-coast guard, we make a difference -- and not because we teach someone how to shoot straight or how to drop a bomb accurately or how to drive a ship in the right direction, but because by partnering with our friends and teammates, they see the best of America and American serviceman or women. They get to know us and they say, hmm, that is okay. And there's no greater evidence of that today than what's going on in the northern tier of this continent, where we have had those sustained relationships and we see the militaries behaving in a way that contributes to the stability of a society, as opposed to not. And where that has not been the case, militaries are contributing to that additional instability. You say it's not important for us to engage in a sustained way over time? Look around. Your Africa Command is dedicated to that. And with the support that we have been receiving, we know that, that will continue. I still get excited about this stuff. (Laughter.) To my bride, Joyce, who has been my absolute best friend, my wife, mother, and obviously, now, in one of the best roles ever created, a grandmother, too -- (laughter) -- I just thank you for always being by my side. I love you. You've been an important member of this command team continuously giving of yourself, being a steadfast advocate for U.S. family members on the continent, for children everywhere and for the Stuttgart community. I'm proud of you and I just look forward to walking a new path together as we continue our journey. Thank you for your love and for your support, sweetie. She's been on this journey as long as I have -- almost 40 years. To our son, K.J. who is here representing the family, including his sister, Kahni, who is at home with our new granddaughter and a host of aunts and uncles and sisters and brothers and my mom, glad you're here, buddy. And thanks for being a great son, as well as being a pretty good military brat, too. (Laughter.) You make your mom and me very, very proud. To my buddy, Carter Ham, Carter, not that the decision was mine, but a while back, when the secretary and the chairman said, well, Kip, who do you think might, at that point in time, when it comes -- and to have your name roll from my lips as the one that I said is the man, I'm glad that somebody listened to something. (Laughter.) You and Christi are exactly the team, as I pointed out, to lead this command as this critical journey continues. Joyce and I welcome you both to the community, to the command. And I know that you will be absolutely delighted, as were we, at the talent of the men and women of the command, as well as the warmth and hospitality of this great community. Welcome aboard, my friend. It was an honor to serve as the first commander of the United States Africa Command. I'm absolutely thrilled to have had the wonderful opportunity to command this talented group of people. I can think of no better role, no more noble task to have, as I close out my career of service spanning almost 40 years and wearing the cloth of my nation. As I look out in the audience, I remember the great quote by Dr. Seuss, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." And that, my friends, is what Joyce and I will be doing -- smiling because of you -- for a very long time. Secretary Gates, Vice Chairman Cartwright, General Ham, thank you again. To all in attendance, thank you for being here today. You truly honor us with your presence. And in the German tradition, I will not end with "goodbye," but instead "auf wiedersehen" -- until we meet again. I remain proud to serve as the partner for stability. God bless you. (Applause.) (END) ------------------------------------------------ General Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command GENERAL CARTER F. HAM: Mr. Secretary, Vice Chairman, Ambassador and Mrs. Murphy, General and Mrs. Ward, those of us who are privileged to serve today often say that we have the great honor of walking in the footsteps of giants. Today, as Christi and I follow Kip and Joyce Ward, that phrase has never been more meaningful to me than that. You are both truly magnificent servants of our nation, and Christi and I are honored to follow. Thank you. (Applause.) I've been to a lot of ceremonies since I began my service as an Army private many years ago. But I have to admit, Mr. Secretary, this is my favorite one so far. (Laughter.) I really am honored to join this great team. And I look forward to the many challenges and the opportunities that lie ahead. I believe that General Ward has well-positioned and well-postured this command to accomplish its many and varied missions. I believe that the real strength of Africa Command rests with the superb military and civilian team members from across our government who comprise the headquarters. I believe that Africa Command's component commands are absolutely unmatched in their understanding and effectiveness in addressing African security issues. I believe our efforts to build warrant-officer and noncommissioned-officer capability are among our very highest priorities. I believe that we reflect the very best of America when we truly respect the diversity in our own ranks and the diversity that exists among the many peoples of Africa. The longer I serve, the more I believe that relationships with our partners is what really matters and really enables us to achieve our objectives. I believe we are most successful when we help find African solutions to African security challenges. And I know we'll face many challenges. Some of those we can see very clearly today, while others will emerge in unexpected ways and in unexpected places. I remain wholly confident that the Africa Command team will meet each and every one of those challenges with agility, imaginative thought and unselfish dedication. My fundamental belief is that we can and will accomplish more when we work together with our African partners. For those that are -- (continues in German). (Resumes in English.) Again, Mr. Secretary, thank you for this wonderful opportunity. I pledge to you, sir, that I and all in the command will do our best each and every day to uphold the trust and confidence that you and our nation place in us. Thank you. (Applause.) (END) ##