[dehai-news] (DIVIDS, US Miltary info) Africom Commander Describes Conditions for U.S. Involvement in Afrcan Conflicts

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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Thu Mar 19 2009 - 08:08:51 EST

Africom Commander Describes Conditions for U.S. Involvement
*Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs*

Story by John Kruzel
*Date:* 03.18.2009
*Posted:* 03.18.2009 04:48

WASHINGTON - U.S. Africa Command will intervene in conflicts on the
continent only after warring countries have shown a political will to
reconcile, the Africom commander told a congressional panel today.

Two main functions of Africom are aiding in stabilization operations and
helping build indigenous security forces. But before America's newest
combatant command steps in, national governments must take steps toward
ending their conflicts, Army Gen. William E. "Kip" Ward said.

"The actions that we take come on the heels of a policy decision having been
taken by the nations themselves," Ward told the House Armed Services
Committee today.

Ward cited three areas of current conflict on the continent, including
border disputes between Eritrea and Djibouti on the Horn of Africa and in
North Africa at the Western Sahara, and clashing in the Democratic Republic
of Congo.

In determining the Africom focus in what Ward characterized as "enduring
conflicts," he said political agreement is a prerequisite for U.S.
involvement. If American policy makers then determine Africom can play a
role, it will proceed in its mission.

Using the example of Central Africa, where a lack of interoperability and
information sharing was exacerbating conflicts, the United States was able
to lend assistance to Uganda, Rwanda, Congo and to a lesser degree, and the
Central African Republic.

"We had the ability to ... help in information sharing, to help with
equipment interoperability, providing sometimes needed logistics support and
enhancements, to cause those governments to be able to have a better sense
of what goes on inside their borders against insurgencies or the rebel
factions, and then be able to work in some degree of commonality to address
them," he said.

Ward said many African nations are able to provide their own security,
citing Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Nigeria and Burundi. Though some
require logistical or other support, many indigenous forces are

"Many of the African nations, in fact, do what many of them say they want to
do -- that is, provide for their own security," said Ward, adding that
there's a very broad range of capabilities among African nations.

The general estimated the United States has partnerships with 35 of Africa's
53 nations, representing U.S. relationships that span the continent.

"We work with them [on] counter-terror programs, programs to help in their
transformation of their militaries and also in just basic logistic support
as they participate in U.N.- or [African Union]-sponsored peacekeeping
operations," he told the congressional members.

Ward's committee appearance marked his second consecutive day testifying on
Capitol Hill about the role of Africom, which became active last October.

He has emphasized that Africom's role is to support African governments in
achieving what is an overarching goal for many nations on the continent: to
provide their own security.

"We take all of these [opportunities] as we can to help build the
relationships and provide some sustained-level security engagement that
leads to a capacity increase in our partner nations," Ward said.

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