Gen. William E. Ward, commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), addresses the audience at the African Presidential Archives and Research Center at Boston University. During a speech he delivered last Wednesday, Ward discussed the accomplishments and future of the newly operational AFRICOM venture, which some in the international community fear will be used as a means for the U.S. to expand the war on terror into Africa. (Talia Whyte photo)
Gen. William E. Ward, commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), discussed the newly operational command’s accomplishments and future work at Boston University last Wednesday.
During his keynote speech at the university’s African Presidential Archives and Research Center (APARC), Ward also addressed concerns raised by opponents who are suspicious of the motives for establishing the military command.
Based at the Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, AFRICOM is a military headquarters devoted solely to American military operations and security engagement with 53 African nations. The command was activated at an Oct. 1 ceremony held at the Pentagon. Prior to AFRICOM becoming fully operational, U.S. security matters in Africa were handled by military commands in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Some have expressed fears that the U.S. government plans to use AFRICOM to extend the war on terror into the African continent, and as part of efforts to suppress growing economic competition from China.
Not so, said Ward.
“AFRICOM is designed to address new military demands on the continent,” Ward said. “The challenges will require more than military expertise.”
Aiding in the response to those challenges will be a number of agencies that will lend a hand to AFRICOM’s work on the continent, including the Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Agency for International Development and several African nongovernmental organizations.
During his APARC speech, Ward stressed that building “partner capacity strategies” and working as a team will be critical in helping the organization to better support both African military personnel and civilians.
“AFRICOM is a listening and learning operation,” he said. “We will learn about the different cultures and change programs as appropriate. Our goal is to add value.”(p2)
The Web site of the newly operational military command responsible for U.S. strategic operations and relations on the African continent provides background information on the AFRICOM venture, news articles, photos, answers to frequently asked questions, and even a blog (on which readers can comment) entitled "AFRICOM Dialogue" featuring posts by high-ranking military personnel. More »
A joint project of activist groups like The Hip Hop Caucus, Africa Faith and Justice Network, Foreign Policy in Focus, Africa Action and the TransAfrica Forum, this opposition campaign seeks to raise awareness of what it believes to be AFRICOM's potential as a Pentagon effort to increase American access to African oil and "wage a new front in the Global War on Terror without regard for the needs or desires of African people." More »