Ward: Guard, Reserve Make Vital Contributions in Africa

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2010 — The Nation­al Guard and Reserves are mak­ing a vital con­tri­bu­tion in Africa, the com­man­der of U.S. Africa Com­mand said here yes­ter­day.

On any giv­en day, 3,500 U.S. ser­vice­mem­bers serve on the con­ti­nent, and 90 per­cent of those are Guard and Reserve mem­bers, Army Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward said at the 2010 Asso­ci­a­tion of the U.S. Army Annu­al Meet­ing and Exposition. 

Ward high­light­ed the almost 20-year-old, 62-nation, Nation­al Guard State Part­ner­ship Pro­gram that pairs Guard states with for­eign coun­tries. And he chal­lenged Guard and Reserve lead­ers attend­ing the expo­si­tion to sus­tain trans­for­ma­tion of the Guard and Reserve. 

“Ladies and gen­tle­men, that’s what you have to make sure we do not lose” — momen­tum in trans­for­ma­tion of the reserve com­po­nent force, Ward said, not­ing today’s active and reserve com­po­nents work in tan­dem with active-duty forces in oper­a­tions around the world. 

“In today’s envi­ron­ment, the Army does not do what it does with­out the full, com­pre­hen­sive and com­plete par­tic­i­pa­tion of our Guard and Reserve force,” Ward said. 

The reserve com­po­nents’ work in Africa, includ­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in major exer­cis­es and oth­er oper­a­tions, he said, ben­e­fits the Unit­ed States by pro­mot­ing sta­bil­i­ty, assists African nations and enrich­es the pro­fes­sion­al and per­son­al lives of the ser­vice­mem­bers involved. 

By land area, Africa could swal­low the con­ti­nen­tal Unit­ed States three and a half times, Ward said. One bil­lion peo­ple live in Africa, he added, a pop­u­la­tion that’s pre­dict­ed to dou­ble in 50 years. Some raw mate­ri­als used to make parts found in every cell phone are only avail­able in Africa, Ward said. The continent’s 53 nations offer grow­ing eco­nom­ic markets. 

U.S. aware­ness of Africa’s impor­tance and sig­nif­i­cance in the world will increase, Ward pre­dict­ed. “We have not paid the type of atten­tion [to Africa] that we ought to,” he said. In his for­mer role as deputy com­man­der of U.S. Euro­pean Com­mand and in oth­er capac­i­ties, Ward wit­nessed the impor­tant role played by the Nation­al Guard’s State Part­ner­ship Pro­gram after the col­lapse of the for­mer Sovi­et Union. 

“I saw [SPP] work so well in East­ern Europe after the fall of the Iron Cur­tain,” he said. “That mod­el also works in Africa: sus­tained secu­ri­ty engage­ment being con­duct­ed by young men and women who are com­bat-test­ed, proven vet­er­ans with ener­gy, enthu­si­asm, want­i­ng to con­tribute, mak­ing a dif­fer­ence and doing it on a con­ti­nent where those who are the recip­i­ents of that asso­ci­a­tion are thank­ful for it.” 

Ward high­light­ed the work per­formed by Nation­al Guard mem­bers from Cal­i­for­nia, New York, North Dako­ta and Ver­mont in Africa. Mean­while, he said, a 900-strong Kansas Guard bat­tal­ion based in Dji­bouti is “work­ing in a bril­liant and mag­nif­i­cent way.” 

Ward said Kansas’ cit­i­zen-sol­diers tell him they feel appre­ci­at­ed and express their per­son­al sat­is­fac­tion with a 97-per­cent reen­list­ment rate.

“We appre­ci­ate what our Nation­al Guard and Reserves do,” Ward said. “What you are doing … is impor­tant and it matters.” 

Guard mem­bers and Reservists are inte­grat­ed into Africom’s staff and are part of a seam­less total force, Ward said. “I am proud to serve with them,” he added. 

And, when African troops meet and train with U.S. troops “they just see the best in Amer­i­ca, and the role that the Nation­al Guard and Reserves play … is absolute­ly crit­i­cal,” Ward said. 

“They see first and fore­most an Amer­i­can that’s help­ing,” he said. 

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

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