U.S. AFRICOM Commander Praises Commitment of Service Members During Visit to Djibouti
As General William "Kip" Ward prepares to fully stand up U.S. Africa Command, he told a crowd of about 1,000 members of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa that U.S. AFRICOM was a way for the Department of Defense to focus its efforts in Africa.
"We were looking to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our military programs on this continent," Ward said. "As we deliver our military-to-military programs, we'll be able to do it in a way that hopefully is more effective in bringing these programs to our partners on the continent, so that it is a cohesive and coherent effort."
The reorganization will probably be transparent to the more than 2,300 sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines assigned to the task force based in Djibouti, the general explained.
"The standup of U.S. Africa Command will not affect the current mission here at CJTF-HOA," he said, "(the command) is designed to enhance the efforts as best we can, but the mission as it is currently being performed will not change."
With no change to the mission, Ward had advice on how to make the transition into the new command a success.
"I think the work of the service members and civilians here at HOA will make the transition a success if you keep doing what you've been doing all along," he told the crowd.
"So continue to carry on and do the work you've done in such a fantastic fashion representing the United States of America."
During his two-day visit, Ward met with representatives from the U.S. Embassy, U.S. Agency for International Development and received an update on the task force's mission. He took time to shake many hands and, as he visited workspaces across the camp, he was enthusiastic about the people he met.
"I appreciate...their commitment, their attitude, their manor of performance and how they represent the United States of America in all that they do as ambassadors," he said. The men and women of CJTF-HOA are helping to, "bring stability to this vitally important area of the world."
When asked about plans to move the headquarters to Africa the general said, "There are no plans to move the headquarters at this time. Right now we are focused on getting the command stood up." Ward added, "We are doing our very best to ensure the programs we are executing are being conducted and carried out the most effective way. That's the focus. If, down the road, there are notions of having some portions of the command relocated, that's a decision to be made later."