Mullen Meets With Eucom, Africom Leaders

STUTTGART, Ger­many, Aug. 31, 2010 — The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met today with lead­ers of U.S. Euro­pean Com­mand and U.S. Africa Com­mand, both of which have their head­quar­ters here.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen vis­it­ed with Army Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward, com­man­der of Africom, and Army Lt. Gen. John D. Gard­ner, Eucom’s deputy com­man­der, and mem­bers of their respec­tive staffs.

“One of my goals as chair­man is to engage the [com­bat­ant com­man­ders] not only when they’re in Wash­ing­ton on my turf, but out on their turf,” Mullen told reporters trav­el­ing with him en route to Ger­many.

Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, Eucom’s com­man­der, also serves as NATO’s supreme allied com­man­der for Europe and was unavail­able for today’s meet­ing, though Mullen said he’d spo­ken with him by phone before leav­ing Wash­ing­ton.

Eucom’s area of focus includes not only all of Europe, but also large por­tions of Asia, parts of the Mid­dle East and the Arc­tic and Atlantic oceans. The com­mand is respon­si­ble for U.S. mil­i­tary rela­tions with NATO and 51 coun­tries.

In recent years, Eucom has expand­ed its part­ner­ships with U.S. agen­cies out­side of the Defense Depart­ment to bring sub­ject-mat­ter experts togeth­er and facil­i­tate the exchange of infor­ma­tion for “whole of gov­ern­ment” inter­na­tion­al efforts in which mil­i­tary and non­mil­i­tary agen­cies have what Eucom offi­cials call “a coin­ci­dence of pur­pose.”

Mullen not­ed he was a strong pro­po­nent for the cre­ation of Africom, which stood up as a full-fledged uni­fied com­mand in Octo­ber 2008. Pre­vi­ous­ly, he said, Eucom had respon­si­bil­i­ty for U.S. mil­i­tary rela­tions in Africa, but with Eucom’s vast area and its com­man­der also serv­ing in a NATO role, it was­n’t phys­i­cal­ly pos­si­ble for Africa to receive an appro­pri­ate lev­el of atten­tion and engage­ment.

“[Africom] gives us a 24/7 engage­ment in that con­ti­nent that we had very lit­tle of pri­or to that stand-up,” the chair­man said, “so I’m very pleased with the lead­er­ship and the progress in what we’ve been able to do in Africa over a rel­a­tive­ly short peri­od of time.”

Africom was cre­at­ed as an “engage­ment com­mand” to help African nations build their capa­bil­i­ties, Mullen said, but it has had to work to over­come sus­pi­cions that the Unit­ed States cre­at­ed the com­mand with designs on mil­i­ta­riz­ing the con­ti­nent.

“A great deal of that has been dis­si­pat­ed,” Mullen said, not­ing that many coun­tries that at first were sus­pi­cious and con­cerned have come to rec­og­nize the command’s val­ue.

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

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