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TRANSCRIPT: AFRICOM's Gen. Ham Discusses U.S. Transitioning Role in Operation Odyssey Dawn with Fox News
Fox News&#39; Jennifer Griffin interviewed General Carter F. Ham, commander, U.S. Africa Command, via the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System March 25, 2011. <br /> <br />The interview focused on U.S. AFRICOM&#39;s future role as NATO
Fox News' Jennifer Griffin interviewed General Carter F. Ham, commander, U.S. Africa Command, via the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System March 25, 2011. The interview focused on U.S. AFRICOM's future role as NATO takes control of the no-fly-zone in Libya. "What makes me most proud is how quickly this coalition came together to operate very, very quickly," said Ham. "We'll now make sure this transition to NATO occurs very quickly and very precisely. It's a complex matter to do this transition while maintaining the momentum of the operation, but I'm convinced that this team that's been assembled can do just that." The following is a transcript of the interview. JENNIFER GRIFFIN: First question: Can you explain to me the new command structure once command is transitioned? Right now you're handing over transition for enforcing the no-fly-zone; that will be handed over to a Canadian general, I understand. Will there be an American above him in the chain of command? GENERAL CARTER F. HAM: There are three components to the mission outlined in the [UN] Security Council Resolution of 1973. First is the arms embargo, which is principally maritime operations. That has already been handed over to NATO and there's an Italian admiral running that operation. Next is the no-fly-zone; that's been agreed to, to hand over and we expect that handover to occur this weekend, probably effectively on Sunday. And there'll be a Canadian three-star who will oversee that. Then, the remaining mission is the protect civilians mission. And it is my understanding that NATO has agreed in principal to accept that mission and they'll have discussions over this weekend as specifically how to do that. What that will mean is overall the NATO commander over the no-fly-zone and the protect civilians mission will be the Canadian three-star. He'll work for the commander of what we call Joint Forces Command Naples, which is a NATO assignment. That position happens to be filled by an American admiral. It is the same American admiral who is presently our Joint Task Force commander Admiral Sam Locklear and of course they work for the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Admiral Jim Stavridis. MS. GRIFFIN: Understood. What will your role be once the entire mission is transitioned over to NATO? GEN. HAM: When the entirety of the mission is operated by NATO, then U.S. Africa Command will be in a supporting role. Libya, of course, is in Africa Command's area of responsibility so we have overall U.S. military responsibility for mission that might entail Libya. So, I won't at that point have any direct command authority over the missions which will be operating in Libya; that'll be purely in the NATO chain. But clearly as an African country, it remains of great interest to me and those here at U.S. Africa Command. MS. GRIFFIN: Will U.S. F-16s and F-15s still be fighting and flying bombing missions once the command is handed over to NATO? GEN. HAM: It is clearly the intent that when the mission is accepted by NATO that the U.S. will contribute what we call unique U.S. military capabilities. So I think it's likely to see capabilities such as U.S. aircraft that are very capable at the suppression of enemy air defenses; or jamming systems; certainly some of our intelligence; and collections systems that are almost unique capabilities. But where other nations and other allied partners have a capability, for example, in aircraft that can enforce the no-fly-zone or conduct air-to-ground operations, then I think you'll see the U.S. role greatly diminished in the near term and ideally, very, in the short term, others would take on those mission and again the U.S. would contribute our unique U.S. military capabilities. MS. GRIFFIN: How seriously should we take these meetings that are taking place in Ethiopia with representatives of the opposition and Libyan government with the African Union? Is that something that's significant? GEN. HAM: Well, certainly the meetings at the African Union are very, very significant. The African Union is an organization in which most of the nations of Africa are members. It's a consultative and deliberative body to address matters of common interests of the African states. So we think that that effort is very, very important. I'm sorry I'm not aware of the meetings that the transitional national council meetings, if that's who you're referring to, meeting with other states. I'm sorry; I'm not tracking those kinds of meetings. MS. GRIFFIN: Understood. And sir, under your command, is anybody providing weapons or help to the opposition forces? GEN. HAM: No, we're not. We do not have a mission to support the opposition forces. We have a very clear mission to protect civilians. In doing so, we attack regime forces who are attacking civilians. Does that help the opposition? Well, it probably does, but that's not the intended purpose. The intended purpose is, protect civilians, not to provide close air support or any other means of support to the opposition forces. MS. GRIFFIN: Do you know of any instances where non-coalition members are providing weaponry to the rebels? GEN. HAM: Not that I'm aware of, no. MS. GRIFFIN: And do you see a situation in the future where the mission could be broadened to include ground troops from the coalition? GEN. HAM: Well, I think that becomes a discretion point within NATO or some other organization. We took on this first mission to protect the regime from slaughtering civilians. We've done that, particularly in the area of Benghazi. NATO will now take on this mission and establish the environment for which that will now allow for further discussions for the ultimate end state of what is it that the international community would like to see. So could you see a UN force or an African Union force or something in there to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance or in some other role? I don't think that's inconceivable, but I don't see that that would be under the, certainly not under the auspices of the coalition and I think unlikely for NATO. MS. GRIFFIN: Okay. Last questionnnÃ?Do you have information that one of Kaddafi's son has been killed? Is there any confirmation of that sir? GEN. HAM: To be honest with you Jennifer, the only place I've seen those reports has been in the media. And I think there's been mixed reporting about that. I certainly don't have any independent confirmation either way on that subject. MS. GRIFFIN: Understood. Okay, anything else you'd like to add sir? GEN. HAM: Thanks. I just, I did have, I had a great day yesterday. I got to go see the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines at Sigonella on [USS] Mount Whitney and then out to [USS] Kearsarge - lots of nations represented. What makes me most proud is how quickly this coalition came together to operate very, very quickly. We'll now make sure this transition to NATO occurs very quickly and very precisely. It's a complex matter to do this transition while maintaining the momentum of the operation, but I'm convinced that this team that's been assembled can do just that. MS. GRIFFIN: Thank you so much sir. GEN. HAM: Alright, thanks Jennifer.
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