Africom Bids Farewell to Ward, Welcomes Ham

SINDELFINGEN, Ger­many, March 9, 2011 — The Defense Department’s newest com­bat­ant com­mand bid farewell to its inau­gur­al com­man­der here today.
Army Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward passed the reins of U.S. Africa Com­mand to Army Gen. Carter F. Ham after near­ly three years at the helm.

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates offi­ci­at­ed at the cer­e­mo­ny and spoke to the audi­ence at the Sin­delfin­gen city hall near Africom’s head­quar­ters in Stuttgart. 

“First and fore­most, I’d like to thank the men and women serv­ing at Africom who, under Gen­er­al Ward’s lead­er­ship, suc­cess­ful­ly tack­led the chal­lenge of set­ting up a new com­bat­ant com­mand,” Gates said. “The first leader of any orga­ni­za­tion defines it more than any other. 

“In 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,” Gates added. The sec­re­tary praised Ward’s decades of ser­vice, which includ­ed 13 com­mand and numer­ous staff assignments. 

“When we first announced the cre­ation of Africom, with its region­al focus and insti­tu­tion­al inclu­sion of State and [U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment] per­son­nel, there was — to put it mild­ly — a cer­tain amount of skep­ti­cism,” Gates said. 

As he said then and still believes, the sec­re­tary not­ed, “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.” 

Ward put those con­cepts into action as com­man­der, Gates said, and Ham will be an able successor. 

Africom stood up in Octo­ber 2007 and assumed oper­a­tional over­sight of U.S. human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance and coun­tert­er­ror­ism efforts across the African con­ti­nent, which includes more than 50 nations and more than a bil­lion people. 

Dur­ing the cer­e­mo­ny, Gates pre­sent­ed Ward with the Defense Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Medal, and the general’s wife, Joyce, with the Dis­tin­guished Pub­lic Ser­vice Award. 

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also spoke at the cer­e­mo­ny, not­ing that Ward has served with dis­tinc­tion dur­ing his long career. “[He] has been a sol­dier for over 40 years, a states­man, a com­man­der — bat­tle-hard­ened,” Cartwright said. Ward and his spouse have done “a fan­tas­tic job” in Africom, he added. “It has been, and will be, their lega­cy,” the vice chair­man said. 

Ward spoke before offi­cial­ly hand­ing the com­mand over to Ham, and said part­ner­ship was the key to his approach as Africom commander. 

“We make a dif­fer­ence,” he said. “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.” 

Ham spoke briefly at the ceremony’s con­clu­sion, pledg­ing to con­tin­ue the command’s mis­sion to help find “African solu­tions to African secu­ri­ty challenges.” 

Ward began his mil­i­tary career as an infantry offi­cer in 1971. He has served in a vari­ety of posi­tions, includ­ing that of com­man­der from com­pa­ny to divi­sion lev­el. Ham most recent­ly served as com­man­der of U.S. Army Europe and as co-chair of the Defense Department’s spe­cial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” review board. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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