USA — Ward Charts Africa Command’s 2011 Course

WASHINGTON — The year ahead presents broad oppor­tu­ni­ties for U.S. Africa Com­mand to con­tribute to sta­bil­i­ty in sup­port of vital U.S. nation­al inter­ests in Africa, the organization’s com­man­der said yes­ter­day in a mes­sage to his staff.

In his “Commander’s Intent 2011” mes­sage, Army Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward not­ed the efforts African nations and region­al orga­ni­za­tions have made over the past year to address polit­i­cal and secu­ri­ty chal­lenges in Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan and Soma­lia.

He also rec­og­nized efforts to counter the Lord’s Resis­tance Army — a vio­lent sec­tar­i­an reli­gious and mil­i­tary group based in north­ern Ugan­da — and al-Qai­da in the Lands of the Islam­ic Maghreb, an Alge­ria-based Sun­ni Mus­lim jihadist group.

“In the com­ing year, we will con­tin­ue to sup­port African lead­er­ship in address­ing shared secu­ri­ty chal­lenges, take advan­tage of oppor­tu­ni­ties, deep­en our strate­gic part­ner­ships region­al­ly as well as bilat­er­al­ly and with the African Union,” Ward wrote.

Mean­while, Africom will refine its focus in secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion efforts while ensur­ing its mil­i­tary readi­ness, he wrote.

In dri­ving this effort, Ward said, the com­mand will focus on four key approach­es:
— Build­ing on past suc­cess­es and pro­vid­ing con­ti­nu­ity in pro­grams to ensure sus­tained progress toward region­al and con­ti­nen­tal secu­ri­ty goals that pro­tect the Unit­ed States and Africa’s secu­ri­ty vision;
— Fur­ther strength­en­ing the uni­ty of efforts with oth­er U.S. agen­cies and, as appro­pri­ate, the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty;
— Pro­mot­ing region­al coop­er­a­tion through mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary engage­ments that strength­en region­al capa­bil­i­ties; and
— Serv­ing as good stew­ards of U.S. resources and apply­ing “the right resources at the right place and right time to get the job done.”

Ward rec­og­nized African lead­ers’ secu­ri­ty pri­or­i­ties, which include capa­ble and account­able mil­i­tary forces; effec­tive, legit­i­mate pro­fes­sion­al secu­ri­ty insti­tu­tions; a col­lec­tive abil­i­ty to stand up to transna­tion­al threats; and increased par­tic­i­pa­tion in inter­na­tion­al peace­keep­ing.

“These goals reflect our empha­sis on pre­vent­ing con­flict and enhanc­ing region­al sta­bil­i­ty to pro­tect Amer­i­can lives and inter­ests in Africa and in our home­land,” he said. And not­ing that African chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties “are not –- and nev­er will be -– pure­ly mil­i­tary,” Ward wel­comed more inter­a­gency and inter­na­tion­al par­tic­i­pa­tion in the region.

“We wel­come efforts to bet­ter inte­grate U.S. gov­ern­ment, diplo­ma­cy, devel­op­ment, defense and intel­li­gence efforts and to bet­ter coor­di­nate resources relat­ed to our nation­al secu­ri­ty,” he said.

Ward under­scored the impor­tance of region­al coop­er­a­tion, includ­ing sup­port for the African Union and efforts to strength­en the African Stand­by Force and its sub­re­gion­al ele­ments. African states com­mit­ted to stand up this orga­ni­za­tion by the end of 2010, but have fall­en behind on their timetable.

Mean­while, Ward called on the mem­bers of his com­mand, as good stew­ards of U.S. resources, to pri­or­i­tize activ­i­ties and seek ways to oper­ate more effi­cient­ly as they car­ry out their mis­sion.

Ward, who stood up Africom in 2007, not­ed dur­ing the sum­mer that the com­mand final­ly had “turned a cor­ner” and was now being asked by African offi­cials what more it could do –- not what its inten­tions were.

Ward cred­it­ed the hard work that his staff -– the first-of-its-kind mix of Defense and State depart­ment mem­bers in a sin­gle com­mand –- has con­duct­ed to deep­en rela­tion­ships with 53 African nations in its area of respon­si­bil­i­ty.

“Thank you for your ser­vice, and may 2011 be anoth­er tremen­dous­ly suc­cess­ful year for us all,” he wrote.

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

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