Posts Tagged ‘AFRICOM’

U.S. Army Africa: What is it?

February 22, 2009

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U.S. Army Africa: What is it?

Based in Vicenza, Italy, U.S. Army Africa is America’s first and only All-Army team dedicated to achieving positive change in Africa. As the Army component to United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM), U.S. Army Africa, in concert with national and international partners, conducts sustained security engagement with African land forces to promote peace, stability and security in Africa. As directed, the command deploys as a contingency headquarters in support of crisis response.

The transformation to U.S. Army Africa symbolizes America’s enduring commitment to Africa. With about 250 members in the command, the Army recognizes U.S. Army Africa’s current structure and size are inadequate and are analyzing options to increase the capabilities of the command. Regardless of size, U.S. Army Africa acknowledges the responsibility to create a world-class organization that is well-designed, expertly run and mission focused.


Just a few months ago, U.S. Army Africa had only a few members with operational experience and little knowledge of Africa’s history, geography and security challenges. Today, all of U.S. Army Africa’s primary staff officers and many of its junior officers and non-commissioned officers have participated in planning activities, staff talks, or exchange programs in Africa. The Command also embarked on a training and education program including week-long seminars from African experts to members of USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and added African modules to the Leader Development and Education for Sustained Peace program on-line.

Data: US Army

Southern European Task Force – U.S. Army Africa

December 15, 2008
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C-17 Globemaster III

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‘A team like no other,’ the United States Southern European Task Force (SETAF) is the Army’s premier organization dedicated to achieving positive change in Africa. As the Army component to U.S. Africa Command, SETAF, in concert with national and international partners, conducts sustained security engagement with African land forces to promote peace, stability and security in Africa. As directed, SETAF will deploy as a contingency headquarters in support of crisis response.

Acknowledging the emerging strategic importance of Africa, U.S. Africa Command was formed Oct. 1, 2007. The U.S. Army has worked with the Defense Department to further develop, organize and unify the military capability for U.S. Africa Command. SETAF, stationed in Vicenza, Italy, since 1955, has a long history of operating on the continent and partnering with African nations. For the past 15 years, SETAF has provided crisis response, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance on the African continent.

SETAF is learning, growing and building capacity and capability to meet the requirements needed to coordinate U.S. Army activities in Africa. SETAF will build and strengthen relationships with African army organizations, along with national and international partners to promote a stable and secure Africa.

Specifically, SETAF will continue to refine its operational practices while focusing in four areas: Grow, Partner, Engage and Act. It will lay the foundation for future success while preparing to assume full responsibility for all U.S. Army operations in Africa. SETAF will also become a trusted and reliable partner for African militaries and security institutions, our allies, our U.S. Africa Command teammates, and other U.S. government agencies and international organizations working in Africa. SETAF will collaborate with African partner nations to transform security forces into contributors to peace with the capabilities and capacity required to accomplish the mission in support of lawful authorities.

Amid this transformation, SETAF will sustain and grow its enduring bilateral relationships with Italian military and civil institutions and among the Italian communities where we live. 

Since the 1990’s, SETAF has teamed with African nations as part of its operational focus. SETAF routinely conducted military-to-military training activities in Africa and performed humanitarian relief operations in Africa; Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo and former Zaire. The transformation to U.S. Army Africa allows SETAF to focus primarily on emerging African nations an
d build the capacity of our African partners, and better enable them to both improve security and prevent conflict.

17th Air Force / Air Forces Africa Take Off

December 2, 2008

The Air Force Association’s Daily Report writes: Less than two months after beginning initial operations, 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa) has yet to secure its full staff but already is ramping up its daily sorties to the African continent, says Maj. Gen. Ronald Ladnier, head of the new organization. The numbered air force has a lot of work cut out for it to meet the goal of being fully operational less than one year from now, Ladnier said during a Nov. 16 interview in his office at 17th AF headquarters on the grounds of Ramstein AB, Germany. “We’re trying to bring in the right folks that have experience,” he said, noting that 17th AF is adding a wide range of personnel from communications and intelligence specialists, logisticians and refuelers, to operators of airlift and intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance platforms. The operational picture is slowly taking shape with the stand up of the 404th Air Expeditionary Group and its subordinate, the 42nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, which is AFAFRICA’s first expeditionary squadron. Currently, two C-130Hs from the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock AFB, Ark., along with their aircrews and support personnel, are deployed to Ramstein to fly Africa missions under the 42nd EAS. These missions frequently run over three to four days down and back. They include cargo and supply runs, delivery of small arms, and the rotation of forces for activities such as medical missions and security training with African partners. Ladnier said, on any given day now, 17th AF has small teams of airmen conducting six to eight security cooperation activities across the vast continent. In addition to airlift, demands on AFAFRICA for ISR are especially heavy, Ladnier said and explained, “We need to know about where refugees are [and] where flooding and natural disasters are taking place as well as keeping track of enemy forces.”

17th Air Force Gaining Altitude and attitude

November 21, 2008

Airmen from Seventeenth Air Force have proudly donned their 17th AF patches since their activation Oct. 1 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Out of garrison, they also proudly don their “U.S. Air Forces Africa” patches.

In the first 30 days since declaring initial operational capability, aerial missions on the continent have coincided with continuing administration and logistical work in building the new unit, said Col. Keith Cunningham, 17th AF chief of staff.

“We’re now the lead element in air operations supporting Africa Command,” he said. “We are receiving support from other agencies and we couldn’t do it without them, but we’ve taken the lead.”

The chief of staff explained that ongoing progress is multifaceted, including gains in operational as well as command and control and administrative capabilities. People continue to arrive as the unit moves toward a total end strength reaching nearly 400 Airmen at its Ramstein headquarters. The members of 17th AF and AFAfrica are excited about taking on a more direct role in support of Africa Command, he said.

“We’ve already established a pretty robust Theater Security Cooperation program in sync with Africa Command’s strategic engagement program,” Colonel Cunningham said. “And during the buildup of this organization, we’ve not only been working in cooperation with U.S. European Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe, but U.S. Central Command and Air Forces Central as we take over air responsibility for the entire African area of responsibility.”

For now, the unit is focused on airlift on the continent. Soon after the ceremonial guidons were secured following activation, the unit received two C-130 Hercules aircraft and crews, deployed from the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Seventeenth then quickly formed an organizational structure to properly employ the aircraft in support of U.S Africa Command, said Col. Bob Holba, the first commander of the newly-formed 404th Air Expeditionary Group. The 404th, and its subordinate 42nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, stood up Oct. 6.

“The mission of the 404th is simple – provide dedicated intra-theater airlift in
support of U.S. Africa Command taskings,” Colonel Holba said. “We don’t have an independent staff but have been leveraging great support from our 17th AF staff, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Third Air Force – especially the 603rd Air Mobility Division – the host (86th Airlift and 435th Air Base) wings at Ramstein, and from the C-130s’ parent 19th Airlift Wing back in the states.”

Because U.S. Africa Command has combined areas of responsibility formerly belonging to the U.S. Central and European Commands, air operations on the continent have begun transitioning to this new structure, Colonel Holba said.

“The structure and function of the 404th and 42nd is similar in many ways to a setup that exists under 3rd Air Force and EUCOM here at Ramstein, where deployed aircraft support some of the intra-theater airlift requirements within Europe,” Colonel Holba said. In both structures, personnel and aircraft are made available to the commands on recurring rotations.

The two C-130s assigned to the 42nd EAS arrived with aircrew and a very lean maintenance and support personnel team including Maj. Jason Havel, who reports to Colonel Holba as the commander of the first operational flying squadron under Air Forces Africa. Major Havel and his troops are focused on conducting airlift missions into and throughout the African continent.

“We’re very excited to be here and to be part of the stand-up of Air Forces Africa and to support the mission of Africa Command,” Major Havel said. “We’ve received outstanding support from 86th and 435th as well as from Seventeenth Air Force staff and from our home unit. It took an incredible amount of coordination to become fully operational, flying missions into the continent, in such a short time span.”

The consolidation of operational responsibility under AFAfrica has included the move of the 449th Air Expeditionary Group at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, central to Horn of Africa operations.

“The 42nd has flown sorties in support of the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, and is currently supporting the multi-lateral military training exercise Flintlock in Mali and Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara in Northwestern Africa,” Colonel Holba said. The unit has already flown 29 sorties, moving 59.5 tons of cargo.

“Having an independent airlift capability, although small, allows U.S. Africa Command and us to better identify requirements and establish enduring relationships with our military and civilian partners,” Colonel Holba said.

Airlift is not the only support AFAfrica has been providing on the continent. Members of the 17th AF Plans Directorate have begun coordinating more than 30 Theater Security Cooperation events for fiscal year 2009. Two events, in Nigeria and Morocco, have already taken place.

This kind of cooperative effort is directly in-line with the component’s mission of promoting air safety and security, said 17th AF Commander Maj. Gen. Ronald R. Ladnier.

“Supporting Africans in building sustainable air safety and security means hands-on training and personal interaction,” the general said. “Through these events, we are actively engaged on an interpersonal level in helping our partners in Africa to develop these capabilities.”

While TSC events have been a facet of U.S. military activities on the continent for years, the new structure and focus under Africa Command makes it possible to expand the program, the general explained, noting the number of TSC events is expected to increase further in 2010.

“We are now engaged and continuing to march toward full operational capability this time next year. As of right now, we are actively supporting not only Africa Command, but our partner nations on the continent, the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development and the African Union in their larger efforts,” General Ladnier said.

“We’re proud to have reached this point but very determined to keep pressing forward. We’re beginning to make a difference on the continent, and that is our ultimate objective.”

Jim Fisher


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JFCOM, SOCOM Mull Possible Stand-Up of New Task Forces in Africa

October 21, 2008
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U.S. Africa Command’s special operations shop is mulling the possibility of standing up new elite task forces on the continent, a military official involved tells Inside the Pentagon. (Subscription Required)

Ward Discusses U.S. Africa Command’s Goals

October 9, 2008
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Army Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward gets a bit hot under the collar when he confronts the myths about U.S. Africa Command, America’s newest unified command.

Ward, the commander of AfriCom, takes every opportunity to emphasize the new organization in no way represents a “militarization” of U.S. foreign policy on the continent.

The command was not formed to protect America’s oil supply, it is not going to set up bases, posts or airfields and base American troops in Africa, and it has no intention of moving from its Stuttgart, Germany, headquarters any time in the foreseeable future, he points out with regularity.

The general remained excited – but in a good way – when he discussed the reality of Africa Command and its potential during an interview following the unfurling of the command’s colors yesterday in the Pentagon.

The command is responsible for areas formerly covered by U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Pacific Command, and is the American military’s sixth unified geographic command. But it is unique. The command is the first joint service combatant command with an interagency organization.

From the beginning, Ward said, interagency partners were going to be integral parts of AfriCom. The deputy commander is Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates – a career foreign service officer who has spent two decades on the continent. State Department officials head other civil-military organizations in the command.

The U.S. Agency for International Development also has supplied personnel to Africa Command. USAID officials have worked delivering humanitarian supplies after disasters around the globe and have a wealth of knowledge about Africa. Other agencies – the Commerce, Treasury and Homeland Security departments among them – also are players in the command.

Integration of interagency members into the staff is a priority for Ward, he said, because he already sees benefits.

“As we define and plan our work, it is better informed because we understand what is being done by other members of our government,” Ward said. The command can ensure their work is complementary to all the other programs the U.S. government has on the continent.

And those efforts are really the main focus in Africa. Combating the spread of AIDS, managing rural development, encouraging good governance, combating trafficking in humans, helping internally displaced people and refugees and more take up the lion’s share of U.S. money spent in Africa.

Africa Command must be in line with all these programs, Ward said.

“What we do has to be within the construct of the stated foreign policy objectives,” he explained. For example, he said, AfriCom does not have a policy on Darfur — the United States government has a Darfur policy. If any U.S. policy on the continent has a military component, the general said, then Africa Command would focus on that.

The military will seek to help other agency efforts, not to replace them, Ward said. The military is not the development authority for Africa, he noted. “That’s our USAID teammates,” Ward said. “They didn’t come to the command so that we now take over development. They are here so we are more cognizant of developmental activities as we go on.”

For example, if U.S. Africa Command sponsors a peacekeeping training exercise with an African nation and some infrastructure must be built to support it, USAID personnel can help pinpoint where it will do the most good for follow-on use, the general said. “If we don’t have that dialogue, if we don’t have that communication, we may never know that, and we’ve lost an opportunity,” he said.

The same holds true with the command’s ability to provide humanitarian support. USAID provides the vast majority of medical and veterinary aid.

“If our military doctors can bring added value to those other programs, then that’s what we want to do,” he said. “But we have to know it in advance so it will bring greater value to the totality of U.S. government efforts.”

Ward said he understands that the interagency partners are the experts on the continent. The command covers 53 nations, and the vastness of the continent means that a policy that works in Botswana probably won’t work in Burkina Faso. The interagency partners know the area, they know the leaders, they know the people, and they can point the military to the best use of its resources, he said.

What the military brings to the equation is expertise in planning, logistics and training, and the resources to make things happen, Ward said. If USAID, for example, must get 300,000 humanitarian daily rations to a disaster area quickly, then its leaders can turn to U.S. Africa Command for assistance.

“If we can bring a capability to one of our interagency partners, then I think we ought to do that,” Ward said. “But I draw a distinction between leading that effort and supporting that effort. If we have a capability that one of our interagency partners lacks, and we can come in and support their overall efforts, then that is something that we should look to do.”

By working in a focused manner day-to-day with interagency partners, other organizations and the African nations, Ward said, the hope is that AfriCom, over time, will help to bring about a more secure and stable environment to allow stability to flourish on the continent.

The command is focused on Africa and listens to African leaders in a way that hasn’t happened in the past, Ward said. The key phrase for the command is “sustained security engagement,” he said, acknowledging that the “sustained” portion has not always happened, as a lack of follow-up in the past led to new capabilities decaying before they could take root. “Going back so that things can be built upon, that’s what’s different,” Ward said.

To illustrate his point that the command will work to enhance Africans’ ability to take charge of their security, Ward recalled a request from an African nation for some assistance. The nation was readying to deploy peacekeepers, he said, and needed help in how to load aircraft for deployment – how to palletize goods, how to tie things down, how to safeguard hazardous substances and so on. The command sent a U.S. Army lieutenant, an Army sergeant and an Air Force sergeant to the country, where they spent three weeks training the nation’s loadmasters.

Along the way, the Americans learned some of the local language and customs. “At the end, the crewmen were able to do the mission professionally and with all safeguards,” Ward said. “I got a letter from the chief of defense asking if he could have the same three guys back so he could train more. These are relationships being developed.”

The team will go back, and later another team will go in, and still another will visit. The follow-up is as important as the original capability, Ward said, and these are capabilities that the nations ask for.

American servicemembers work side by side with African militaries, and they tell Ward how rewarding that work is for them.

“Helping these militaries provide their own security may mean we are not there reacting to a situation,” Ward said. “[American servicemembers are] doing it in such a way that they are preventing something rather than to try to stop something or react to something. They really appreciated it.”

Ward spoke of visiting one U.S. unit that served in Iraq, then Afghanistan, and was now part of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa in Djibouti.

“To an individual, they thought what they were doing mattered and made a difference, and [that] what they were doing helped promote stability instead of having to intervene to bring stability back,” Ward said. “It goes back to our primary work trying to prevent conflict as opposed to having to react to a conflict. The young men and women who are doing it are happy to be involved in those tasks.”

The command is small – roughly 2,000 servicemembers in all of Africa, with most concentrated in the Horn of Africa. The command spends more time listening to partners and friends on the continent, and then moves out accordingly. “We do this based on what they ask us to do in their support – on their behalf,” Ward said.

Ward said it’s important to understand there are other viewpoints and to try to see situations as your friends see them.

“The idea of getting out of your foxhole and going downrange and looking back at it from the perspective of others is important,” he said. “This will help us succeed.”

Jim Garamone (AFPS)

U.S., African forces participate in medical exercise

July 26, 2008

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Malian medics, doctors and nurses put their skills to the test during a mass casualty exercise July 18, which kicked off in the village of Kati, Mali.

Medics received a call July 18 of a bus crash — with an actual bus and a vehicle on its side, blocking a roundabout. Patients were moulaged and strewn across the scene to provide a more realistic training scenario for the medics, who responded within minutes.

Due to a limited number of ambulances in Mali, vans and trucks were also used to help transport the victims. The Malian medical team was evaluated on proper triage of patients, litter techniques and transportation of the victims to the hospital, while senior government officials looked on.

The mass casualty scenario is part of MEDFLAG 08, a multi-national medical training exercise designed to enhance medical capabilities and readiness for U.S. and African forces. More than 90 servicemembers deployed to Mali for the two-week long exercise.
“MEDFLAG 08 provides an excellent opportunity for the U.S. to work side-by-side with our Malian medics,” said Col. (Dr.) Schuyler Geller, the Africa Command surgeon general. “This mass casualty exercise helped train the Malians on pre-hospital care and I hope it will help the medics in the future should they face this type of situation.”

Throughout the week leading up to the exercise, U.S. servicemembers trained medics and doctors on proper litter carry techniques, patient evaluation and triage procedures.
“The hands-on training was the most enjoyable,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Joseph Connolly, chief of aerospace medicine from Aviano Air Base, Italy. “We gave the medics test cases and everyone got to share their opinions on what they thought the problems were and how to solve it.”

The mass casualty scenario we setup was a very realistic problem Malians face here, said Colonel Connolly.

With only a limited number of ambulances and virtually no training on mass casualty accidents, Malian medics were excited to learn proper pre-hospital care.

“From the classroom training to the mass casualty exercise, the Malians did great,” Colonel Connolly said. “The friendships we are building and the satisfaction of working with competent individuals has made this exercise worthwhile.”

Colonel Geller said he was pleased to see the turnout and support of the Prime Minister of Mali, Modibo Sidibe, and other high-ranking Malian officials for the mass casualty exercise.

“Our interactions with the Malian government and medics have been a win-win situation,” Colonel Geller said. “Exercises like MEDFLAG 08 help improve the security and stability of Mali and enforce AFRICOMs focus of ‘Add value and do no harm.'”

MEDFLAG 08 is the largest annual medical exercise in Africa. The U.S. Africa Command began initial operations in October 2007 and is scheduled to become an independent unified command by October 1. 

Justin Weaver (AFPN)