AFRICOM commander testifies before House Armed Services Committee
Gen. William E. Ward, commander, U.S. Africa Command, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee on March 10, 2010. (House Armed Services Committee screen shot)

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Gen. William E. Ward, commander, U.S. Africa Command, testified before the House Armed Services Committee, March 10, 2010, providing an overview of the command's strategic approach and showing how security cooperation efforts promote stability in support of U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives.

Gen. Ward's testimony before Congress was part of an annual requirement for regional military commanders. He testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 9. (See the <a href="http://www.army.mil/-news/2010/03/09/35595-africom-posture-statement-ward-reports-annual-testimony-to-congress" target="_blank">Senate Armed Services Committee transcript</a>).

"My focus is on activities, programs, and communications that support our national interests," said Ward during his opening statement. "[These programs] also reinforce the success that we have established in ways that will assure progress in the long term for our African partners to be more capable of providing for their own security, and thus helping to guarantee our security here as well."

In the below transcript, Ward testified alongside other senior commanders. Portions of the testimony not related to Africa Command has been omitted.

HEARING OF THE HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: "THE FISCAL YEAR 2011 BUDGET REQUESTS FOR THE U.S. EUROPEAN COMMAND (EUCOM), THE U.S. AFRICA COMMAND (AFRICOM) AND THE U.S. JOINT FORCES COMMAND (JFCOM)"
CHAIRED BY: : REP. IKE SKELTON (D-MO)

WITNESSES:
ADMIRAL JAMES STAVRIDIS, COMMANDER, U.S. EUROPEAN COMMAND (EUCOM);
GENERAL WILLIAM E. WARD, COMMANDER, U.S. AFRICA COMMAND (AFRICOM);
GENERAL JAMES N. MATTIS, COMMANDER, U.S. JOINT FORCES COMMAND (JFCOM)

LOCATION: 2118 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C. TIME: 10:06 A.M. EST
DATE: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10, 2010

REP. SKELTON: Let me welcome our witnesses today. And this is, as you know, the posture hearing for the fiscal year 2011 budget for the U.S. European Command, the U.S. African Command and the U.S. Joint Forces Command. Before I introduce our witnesses, I wish to make note that our staff director, Erin Conaton, will be witnessing her last hearing in the role of staff director. To say that she has done yeoman's work is an understatement. I'm immensely proud of the leadership she has supported, her ability, her tireless energy, her good judgment, and in steering this committee so very, very well. And we wish her well as the new undersecretary of the Air Force. And she will be joining that team in just a few days. But this is her very last hearing.

Mr. McKeon.

REP. HOWARD MCKEON (R-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And I want to second everything that you have said. Plus, I would like to add that, you know, I'm fairly new at this job, and Erin has made it so enjoyable. You know, as we went through the conference, the day after I was named the ranking member, we had our markup.

And so it was like drinking out of a firehose for the next several months. And we got down to the final four, many of those meetings that we held.

And I want to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, because for what else is happening in this Congress, this committee has been bipartisan due to your leadership. And everything that we did, Erin made it bipartisan. She made sure that we know everything that's going on and all of the decisions.

We didn't agree on everything. We probably agreed on more than we did with the Senate. But I mean, you know, through the process, she has been a true professional and done an outstanding job. And she will be missed, but the Air Force is gaining a great new member.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. SKELTON: Mr. McKeon, thank you very much.

Erin, we wish you well. (Applause.)

We have announced her replacement, Paul Arcangeli, standing by the door by Erin, and his deputy, Debra Wada, who all of us know so well through the years.

Welcome aboard. (Applause.)

Appearing before us today, Admiral James G. Stavridis, United States Navy; General William E. "Kip" Ward, United States Army; General James N. Mattis, United States Marine Corps. We appreciate your being with us today. And we welcome you.

And it's been the practice in the several years. A very compressed hearing held causes us to consider your testimony as a group, when really each of you deserve to have -- because of your position as a commander of your important commands, deserve your own separate hearing.

But we were unable to do that this year, and I hope you understand that.

First, the European Command. Admiral, Europe remains critical to our national security, and we should remember that. Long transatlantic ties have endured difficult times over the years. Challenges in those relationships present themselves today. We tend to think of our European friends and allies solely as partners for operations outside of that theater, but we should not so quickly put aside what the Russian incursion into Georgia two summers ago reminded us. Real regional challenges do exist in Europe.

Many of our allies rely on us to guarantee security and stability in Europe. One shining example of our commitment to security is in the Balkans, where, after nearly 15 years, the American presence in Bosnia-Herzegovina is down to a handful, and the NATO mission in Kosovo has brought us genuine stability.

We're all watching the NATO mission in Afghanistan closely. Many of our allies are making considerable contributions to that effort and, sadly, suffering casualties to prove it. Some, however, are not able to perform all missions. Where this is a matter of concern regarding capability and not national will, I encourage you to continue to find ways to build their capacity, and would like to hear your ideas along those lines.

Next, General, U.S.-Africa Command.

After a beginning of fits and starts, it looks to me like AFRICOM has gotten its feet underneath it. You worked very hard to bring together parts of three other combatant commands, and until President Obama laid out a clear vision of United States national policy toward Africa last July, you'd been operating under somewhat vague policy guidance.

Now it seems like things are finally coming together in your shop -- none too soon. From Al Qaeda in East Africa to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al-Shabab in Somalia, we see that violent extremism on the continent is on the rise. AFRICOM has done some impressive things while working with its African partners to promote African stability and security. And that is, of course, a worthy effort.

The effect the United States Navy and its African Partnership Station has had on developing African maritime security is a great example, so we feel like we should pat our Navy on the back for an -- having done so well.

I've felt for some time, General Ward, that when it comes to your command's activities that are not clearly counterterrorism, your challenge has been to describe them in terms of a clear linkage to U.S. national security interests. I hope you'll emphasize that point in your testimony today, sir.

Last but, of course, not least, United States Joint Forces Command, JFCOM, perhaps one of the most opaque commands for an outsider, because so much of what you do, General Mattis, is conceptual; sometimes feels like one has to be an experienced practitioner of the art of war to understand it. Still, that intellectual space is exactly where the next war is going to be won, before we even know who we'll be fighting against.

At last month's hearing in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review I observed that the QDR did not pay enough attention to the operational needs of our muddy boot warriors. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan made it very clear that the superiority of individuals (in/and) small units engaged in close combat is essential if the United States is going to win these sorts of wars.

These are our most effective weapons, and I understand the Joint Forces Command is making great strides in developing innovative tools to make sure our small units are fully and realistically trained. I think we owe our ground combat teams the same sort of preparation in terms of stimulus and other training tools that we give our pilots, for instance.

And I hope, General Mattis, you will talk about that today.

We welcome you. We look forward to your testimony. This should be a very, very interesting hearing.

Ranking member, the gentleman from California, my friend Buck McKeon.

REP. MCKEON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Today, we begin our series of posture hearings with the commanders of U.S. EUCOM, U.S. AFRICOM and U.S. Joint Forces Command. I'd like to welcome Admiral Stavridis, General Ward, General Mattis, and thank each of you for your leadership and your service to our nation, as well as all of those people that are here with you in uniform. Thank you.

Your appearance also reminds us of our extraordinary military men and women serving around the globe to protect American national interests. Please pass along my sincere gratitude to all of our servicemembers and their families serving under your commands.

Admiral Stavridis, unfortunately we do not have time to cover all of the challenges facing EUCOM and NATO, but I'd like to highlight a few areas that I hope you will address today.

The first is the administration's Russia reset policy. While your written statement correctly highlights the complexities of engaging with Russia, we need to ensure that the reset policy does not risk the viability of the security architecture that has kept the European continental (sic) peaceful for nearly 60 years.

In other words, reset needs to be balanced with U.S. reassurance to our allies. This is why many of us support a "NATO first" policy, which would make clear to our NATO allies that U.S. bilateral engagement with Russia will not foster collective insecurity amongst our allies. I'm pleased that your prepared statement addresses the need to strengthen trans-Atlantic security, assure allies and dissuade adversaries.

Important to assuring allies is a U.S. force presence in Europe. Your prepared statement states that force posture key -- is key to achieving our national objective in EUCOM's area of responsibility and offers context for highlighting how U.S. personnel in Europe has decreased from 300,000 during the Cold War to less than 80,000 today.

While some have called for even less force presence, you state that, and I quote, "Without four brigade combat teams in Europe, deterrence and reassurance are at increased risk." Given Russia's military modernization efforts, its behavior in Georgia and its revised nuclear doctrine, this is not a risk we can afford to assume.

A key development in your AOR since last year is missile defense. While I understand that mishile -- missile defense costs and capability are not EUCOM issues, addressing our allies' concerns about the Iranian threat is a major EUCOM equity.

With respect to defense of Israel, EUCOM should build on its October 2009 Juniper Cobra exercise, which successfully exercised the active missile defense capabilities of both U.S. and Israeli armed forces.

I do have concerns about the administration's phased adaptive approach however. In my view, it's critical that the administration deliver on its promise on missile defense in Europe. We've learned little about this plan since the September 2009 announcement. Does EUCOM have a detailed plan in place to execute this policy'

Finally absent from your comprehensive testimony is discussion of NATO as a nuclear alliance. While you highlight that Article 5 and collective defense is a cornerstone of the alliance, you do not address whether the U.S. should continue to have a nuclear presence in Europe.

In my view, our forward deployed nuclear forces strengthen transatlantic security and are critical to the credibility of our collective defense commitment. I take to heart the view that our nuclear forces work for us every day, by providing assurance to allies and deterrence to our adversaries.

Mr. Chairman, I ask that my entire statement be included, for the record, where I address policies facing the other combatant commands testifying today.

Once again, I thank you gentlemen for being here. And I look forward to your testimonies.

REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman. And the statement will be spread upon the record without objection.

Admiral Stavridis, welcome.

ADM. STAVRIDIS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, members of the committee. Thank you so much for taking time to have a dialogue with each of us and to hear our views and to learn of yours.

I want to also commend Erin Conaton, who has been a terrific liaison and, sir, has represented this committee in an extraordinary fashion. I was also pleased to see you use a nautical metaphor to commend her doing yeoman's work, which we -- we like that expression in the Navy. And she has been a good friend to the Navy and indeed to all the services and, I believe will be an extraordinary addition to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon, Erin.

I'm very blessed to be here today with two outstanding shipmates who are on my flanks and are both good friends. And as I mentioned yesterday, I feel very safe in the company of two combat serious infantry-type officers, from the Army and the Marine Corps.

Mr. Chairman, I'll be extremely brief. I want to -- I want to, as always, thank this committee for all of the support to all of our men and women. Your visits matter. Your support through the committee matters deeply. It's the fuel in the machine, and we thank you for it. And we thank you for your informed engagement with us that helps guide us.

I will talk -- and I look forward to taking your questions on Afghanistan. My role there, of course, is in my SACEUR NATO hat. I am cautiously optimistic about progress in Afghanistan. Secretary Gates is down south in the Helmand yesterday and said he sees bits and pieces of progress. I think we have a long way to go and a tough year ahead, but I'm encouraged by what I've seen over the course of the last year in terms of strategy, resources and leadership in Afghanistan.

The Balkans. Mr. Chairman, thank you for mentioning the Balkans. It really is a success story. I look forward to a continued reduction of our forces there. The key in the Balkans is to ensure we don't fall backward. As you pointed out, 10 years ago we had almost 30,000 troops all over the Balkans. Today we have less than 1,200.

Our allies are there. The allies have almost 15,000 troops there. So they're pulling hard, and I think, overall, together the Balkans are an example of transatlantic security working at its best.

A couple of other issues that I think are key, I'd like to touch on at some point today, are cyber. I'm concerned about that both in the context of U.S. European Command and also on my NATO side.

I am very concerned about Iran. Thank you, Ranking Member McKeon, for mentioning the missile defense threat. I think that Iran is what poses that threat, and we need to be responsive to that.

And Russia -- I take your point entirely, Ranking Member McKeon, that it's a -- it is a balance between these poles of reset and reassurance, as you correctly point out.

In terms of how we're approaching business at U.S. European Command, as I did at U.S. Southern Command, we are working very hard to have an international and interagency orientation in the work that we do. We're trying to have effective strategic communications and explain what we're doing. And above all, we depend on the brave men and women, almost 80,000 of them in Europe today, who are defending our nation -- forward.

I thank you for your time today, and I look forward to your questions, sir.

REP. SKELTON: General, thank you very much.

General Ward, please.

GEN. WARD: Chairman Skelton, Ranking Member McKeon, thank you for this opportunity to be here, distinguished members of the committee. We appreciate all that you do in support of our command as we work to pursue our interests in the continent of Africa.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't acknowledge Erin. She has been such an instrumental and supportive part of all that we've done these past now 2-1/2 years in standing up our nation's newest combatant command. And Erin, thank you for your support and how you were able to help us along so many ways, and wish you all the best in your new assignment. And we look forward to working with -- also with Paul and Deborah (sp) as they continue to work the -- with us as we move forward for our nation.

I'm honored to appear here today with my friends and distinguished colleagues, Admiral Jim Stavridis and General Jim Mattis.

What we do in AFRICOM to protect American lives and promote interests is our mission, and we do that by supporting security and stability programs in Africa and its island nations. We concentrate our strategy and our efforts on helping African states build their capacity to field professional and capable militaries that respect human rights, adhere to the rule of law, promote professionally dedicated militaries and also effectively contribute to stability in Africa. We're assisting our African partners in building capacities to counter transnational threats from violent extremist organizations, to stem illicit trafficking, to support peacekeeping operations and to address the consequences of human disasters, whether they be man-made or natural.

Supporting the development of professional and capable militaries contributes to increased security and stability in Africa, allowing African nations and regional organizations to promote good governance, expand development and promote their common defense, to better serve their people and to help protect the lives of Americans, be they abroad or here at home.

The Africa Partnership Station -- and Chairman, thank you for mentioning that -- which includes our European and African partners as members of the staff, is now on its fifth deployment and has expanded from the initial focus in the Gulf of Guinea to other African coastal regions as well.

Africa Endeavor, a continental-wide command and control exercise, has been seeing a steady increase in participation, with over 30 nations projected to participate this year. Exercise Natural Fire was acclaimed by all as a tremendously successful exercise bringing together five Eastern African nations to address their response in a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief scenario.

Mr. Chairman, in my written statement I highlight these and other programs and activities all designed to help build our partners' security capacity, and I ask that it be made a part of this record.

These programs reflect the willingness of our partners to work with us and with each other to address common threats that have the ability to impact us here at home and reflect that our programs and our activities are indeed producing tangible results. And I'll provide some examples of that later on.

My focus is on activities, programs and communications that support our national interests and also reinforce the success that we have established in ways that will assure progress in the long term for our African partners to be more capable of providing for their own security, and thus helping to guarantee our security here as well. We closely harmonize our activities with our colleagues at State, at USAID and other agencies of our government.

Our service components continue to mature. Our offices of Security Cooperation, Defense Attaches, and network of forward operating sites and cooperative security locations, including Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, are tremendously valuable as we pursue U.S. security interests.

It is my honor to serve with the uniformed men -- wen -- and women as well as those civilians who comprise the United States Africa Command, who are making a difference in this vitally significant and strategically important area of our global society. Their dedicated effort exemplifies the spirit and determination of the American people. And I'd be pleased, with your permission, to introduce someone here with me today representing those men and women, the command senior enlisted leader, Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka (sp), who's here.

What we do is important. We recognize the contribution of this committee. We thank you for your support. And I look forward to taking any additional questions to provide you any information that I can with respect to our command. Thank you very much.

REP. SKELTON: General Ward, thank you.

General Mattis, welcome, sir.

GEN. MATTIS: Thank you, Chairman Skelton, Ranking Member McKeon and members of the community. I appreciate the opportunity to testify. And sir, I request my written statement be placed into the record.

REP. SKELTON: Without objection, the written statements of each of the witnesses will be placed in the record.

GEN. MATTIS: Thank you, sir. And I wish to echo my shipmates' respect of Erin's service and quiet support of our military forces over many, many years.

You will be missed. You've been magnificent, Erin.

Over the course of the past year, Joint Forces Command has continued to provide combat-ready forces to the combatant commanders, to support active military operations. We have continued to prepare for future conflict by thinking ahead so, if surprised, we have the fewest regrets.

And after a historic change of command in NATO, in which I handed over supreme command of Allied Command Transformation, we continue to ensure Joint Forces Command remains closely linked with our allied partners in NATO.

The character of this current conflict remains different or, better said, irregular. We have continued to adapt our forces in stride, to become increasingly competent in irregular warfare. Across the board, the joint force has significantly adapted to this new environment. But our watch word must be balance.

The chairman and secretary of Defense have stated, we must not lose our nuclear deterrence, our conventional superiority, in the process of adapting to irregular warfare.

Even as we continue to prepare and deploy forces, into the irregular fights of Iraq and Afghanistan, we cannot permit the dormancy of our conventional capabilities.

Our forces will continue to achieve balance as dwell times build. Through effective training and education across the force, we can strike the appropriate balance while ensuring our current and future combat readiness.

Based on the reality of current active operations and future trends outlined in our recent assessment of the joint operating environment, Joint Forces Command's top priority continues to reflect balance between support for the current fight and our constant assessment of the future to ensure we remain the most capable military in the world.

Thank you, sir.

REP. SKELTON: Thank you so much, General.

[Discussion Not Related to U.S. Africa Command]

REP. SKELTON: Thank you.

General Ward, in your capacity, you of course have various -- or the service component commands working with you and for you; is that correct'

GEN. WARD: That's correct, Chairman.

REP. SKELTON: Well, in particular, tell us what the Navy has been doing in the maritime security arena. And has it been of help in working with our African partners, the United States Navy'

GEN. WARD: Mr. Chairman, approximately two-and-a-half (sic) years ago, in October of '06, we conducted a maritime conference in Cotonou, Benin. It was -- at that time, I was still the deputy commander at EUCOM, and we had the commander of Naval Forces Europe with me. And we worked with the chiefs of defense there to find out from them what they needed to help them be in a better posture to protect their territorial waters from all the illicit trafficking things going on.

As a result of that conference, we have expanded into what we now call the Africa Partnership Station. It's a program. It's not the platform; it's a program. It's a training program that brings together the various nations of the littoral there in the continent of Africa. It started in the western part of the continent. As I've mentioned, it has expanded around to the entire continent now. But it includes our U.S. Marine Corps, Navy, other European partners, the Dutch, the Germans, British, French, as staff members of this training platform.

It also includes members from the African nations where this platform, as it circumnavigates the continent, will touch for two- to three-week periods of time, training these African nations on things that they see for themselves as important to increase their capacity to improve their security. It includes such things as small boat maintenance and repair. If you have a problem in your territorial waters, you have to have assets to deal with that. And so as simple a thing as keeping your boat motors operating, as keeping your electrical systems running, are the sorts of things that we do with this platform.

It includes professionalization of noncommissioned officer corps. It includes other professionalism, disciplined sorts of drills that increase the capacity of nations to bring their own security capacity to bear as they seek to protect their territorial waters.

It also includes how they work together in a linked way with respect to how they monitor and surveil their maritime areas. And so how they bring their surveillance systems into play -- part of that dynamic -- training, in some cases providing equipment. That program is being led by the United States Navy, and it's under the auspices of my command -- my component command, Naval Forces Africa, who now leads that program, but with the involvement of the players of Europe, as I mentioned, the continent, continental players, as I mentioned, but also other parts of the interagency, in that attempt to help these countries increase their maritime safety and security.

REP. SKELTON: Thank you.

[Discussion Not Related to U.S. Africa Command]

So I think you would need to change some of the rewards systems. We're talking personnel policies here. And we also need to consider extending -- as appropriate, not in all cases -- the normal career to 30 and 40 years vice 20 and 30. I hope that addresses your questions, sir.

REP. SKELTON: Thank you so much.

Mr. McKeon.

REP. MCKEON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[Discussion Not Related to U.S. Africa Command]

REP. SOLOMON ORTIZ (D-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And I would like to thank all three of you for appearing before our committee today, and thank you for your service.

General Ward, I just have a few questions for you. In light of the horrific recent tragedies in Nigeria, does AFRICOM have enough troops to conduct training' And I know you've had some training exercises with countries that have requested support. And can you also speak to the training of African troops by AFRICOM'

And I know that in the beginning, you know, when we set up the command, there were some questions about being accepted in the area where we had troops. How well are the African troops (faring in actual ') operations' Have we conducted performance reviews on the African training programs'

And I know that all of this comes into play with the complex humanitarian emergencies that come about, but maybe you can give us a little input as to what is going on in training and whether you have enough personnel to do something that does justice to them.

GEN. WARD: Thank you, Mr. Ortiz.

First, you're correct. We have no assigned forces. We get our forces through the global force management process administered by the Department of Defense here in D.C., as well as my friends Jim Mattis of the Joint Forces Command, and we submit, through the request of forces process, our requirement for forces. We are being -- that requirement's being satisfied at -- about the 80 to 85 percent rate, which is commensurate with what happens in the other combatant commands.

It does affect us a bit, because we don't have any assigned forces to complement that. But at the current time, we're looking at ways, and Department of Defense is also looking at ways to reestablish the Global Employment of the Force priority structure, such that the requirement for building partner capacity that you've addressed here is achieved -- receives a higher priority in this whole process.

But right now that's how we do it. And for me, having assigned forces is not necessarily the issue. What's important is that when I have a demand for forces, those forces can be provided. Owning them is not the point, but having them available is something I think is very, very important.

As we work with the African nations, with our various exercises, we provided training support, logistics support as they have participated in peacekeeping operations. We see that level of training and support being very, very instrumental to their level of performance.

There's a recent example of a training iteration that we conducted in Mali as we were working with the Malian armed forces as they conducted their counterterror training.

You may recall that last summer the Malians had suffered some pretty substantial defeats on the part of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Part of the outcome of this most recent training happened in January from one of the members who participated, who said: Had I had that training prior to or had those who encountered that incident last July -- had they had this training, the outcome would have been different.

We think we're making a difference. The performance of these African nations indicates that our presence, our training with them makes a difference, and we certainly look to continue that because that is how we help safeguard our own populations. With their having increased capacities to do those things to provide for their own security, it has a direct impact on the safety and security of our citizens in Africa but also in the transnational nature of today's threat environments, also helping them do their part to counter those transnational threats.

REP. ORTIZ: And I know that we do have some health threats, pandemics in the area. How are we addressing some of the health problems, the pandemic that we have in that area' Are we working jointly with them' Are we having doctors that help out as well'

GEN. WARD: We are -- our efforts are part of the entire Department of Defense health assurance program. We work our pandemic plans with the African nations as well as, obviously, you know, our European friends, because we see the global connectivity of all of those things. We do work with them in their planning, their response. A part of my staff, my surgeon staff, my medical staff, is going down doing our engagement, our medical engagement, also to help them address their own individual, unique requirements and how they counter these threats from pandemics.

The H1N1, they didn't have a problem with. It was kind of in reverse, how they tried to assure (the folks') that that didn't have an effect on them. And obviously, you know, the health threats that would emanate from the continent and would spread, likewise keeping those in check.

But other things as well, from HIV/AIDS, malaria -- robust programs, because all those issues of health are also security-related if they're left unchecked.

REP. ORTIZ: Again, thank you so much for your service.

[Discussion Not Related to U.S. Africa Command]

REP. SKELTON: Thank you.

Before I call on Mr. Taylor, General Ward, you formally were the deputy at European Command; is that correct'

GEN. WARD: That's correct, Mr. Chairman.

REP. SKELTON: And your rank was four stars; is that correct'

GEN. WARD: Correct, Mr. Chairman. (Pause.)

REP. SKELTON: You do not have a four-star deputy in your command; is that correct'

GEN. WARD: None of the combatant commands have four-star deputies.

REP. SKELTON: That answers the question. Thank you very much.

Mr. Taylor.

REP. GENE TAYLOR (D-MS): Mr. Chairman, I'm going to yield to Mr. Kissell and take his place at the appropriate time.

[Discussion Not Related to U.S. Africa Command]

REP. KISSELL: General Ward, we've had hearings recently about our relationship with China. What is the influence of China into the continent of Africa' How is that playing out, pros and cons about what's taking place there'

GEN. WARD: Thank you, sir. China is pursuing its interest in Africa, like other nations. It is working with many nations of the continent pursuing economic and developmental interests. Their -- from what I can see, their military relations are not very robust. From time to time you'll note some engineering sorts of things going on with infrastructure development.

It is the type of thing that from my perspective we clearly see how these sovereign nations reach out to other sovereign nations to help them achieve various national objectives that they may have. China is one of the countries that they reach out to, and China responds in ways that satisfies requirements.

What impact that will ultimately have, I am not prepared to address. The work that we do is work that we hope that where there are opportunities to cooperate in the standpoint of promoting security and stability, that that would clearly be an objective also of the Chinese and any other nation that is engaging on the continent with the sovereign nations of Africa as they move ahead and pursue those common objectives.

That's how I see the current situation as it moves ahead there on the continent, sir.

REP. KISSELL: Thank you, sir.


[Discussion Not Related to U.S. Africa Command]


REP. JOHN KLINE (R-MN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, gentlemen, for your service and for being here.

Just a quick comment, General Madison (sic). I was very pleased to hear you comments about modeling and simulation in response to Mr. Forbes' questions, on the one hand. On the other hand, it's almost appalling that we have reached this, 2010, and we're not further along.

I know the services -- and certainly the Marine Corps, because I was involved in it, going back 16 years or more ago, was recognizing that need for modeling and simulation. So I hope we will move out aggressively to take advantage of that technology.

General Ward, it is always great to see you. I sometimes flash back those many years ago, when we were colonels and commanding Soldiers and Marines in Somalia. And I want to get to that country in just a second.

But I was looking at some headlines here in the last week, from the BBC and others -- "Hundreds dead in Nigeria attack." "Mauritania vows no negotiations or prisoner exchanges with al Qaeda." "Tear gas fired at Togo protestors." "Sudan army says it now controls strategic Darfur plateau." "Twin blasts hit Rwanda's capital." "Canada lists Somalia's Shabab as a terrorist group." "France claims biggest haul of pirates off Somalia." "Libya calls in U.S. oil firms over Qadhafi jibe" and so forth. You got a mess and very few forces.

Let's go to Somalia, if we can, for -- to help me and us understand how AFRICOM works to address these issues. If you look at Somalia -- and you know very well what a mess it was 17 years or so ago, when you and I were there -- and you look at al-Shabab, and you look at the headline that I just read.

And today, in The New York Times, it says as much as half the food aid sent to Somalia is diverted from needy people to a web of corrupt contractors, radical Islamist militants and local United Nations staff members. We could have read the same thing 16, 17 years ago. In fact, that's why you and I were there, because food wasn't getting where it was supposed to go.

So we have AFRICOM, and somehow you have got to work with the interagency, with Special Operations Command, with African forces. Who's in charge' And how do you -- how do you do that' I know it's a big question, but I know that we've been grappling since the standup of your command. How does that work' Is Special Operations Command in charge' Are you in charge' Is the -- you know, is the ambassador in charge' Is sort of nobody in charge' Use Somalia as the -- as the example, or pick any one you want, and kind of tell us how that works.

GEN. WARD: Well, thank you for that, Mr. Kline. And obviously, and as you pointed out, that is a complex environment, and things have not changed.

If you take the case of Somalia, obviously, with where we are, and the transitional federal government that's there, and the fact that the African Union -- which wasn't the case when we were there 17 years ago. There's a continental-wide organization that has said that we will do our best to help bring this transition federal government into a place where it can begin to exert some control over that vast territory.

The problem with Somalia is the lack of a government. It's the lack of effective governance. But there are things being done to address that. It is truly an international effort. It requires the support of the global community. And the response that the United States has in that endeavor is -- and the thing that we are doing -- to try to reinforce the work of this transition government; to reinforce the work of the African Union, its mission in Somalia, AMISOM, as they have fielded peacekeeping forces, African peacekeeping forces, who have familiarity, have understanding.

Our training support, our logistical support, our support to the Transitional Federal Government forces to cause them to be in a better state to help deal with this lack of governance are the sorts of things that we are doing in support of this I think international effort to address the problems of lack of governance in Somalia and doing what we do through our interagency process, coordinating our activities with the Department of State, and where there are things --

REP. KLINE: If I could interrupt, I'm about to run out of time here and I do really want to be respectful of that. But I'm just struck again that this -- this New York Times story is talking about a web of corrupt contractors, radical Islamist militants and local United Nations staff members.

And if the United Nations is, frankly, as inept now as it was when you and I arrived there those many years ago, when they were all holed up in a little corner of the Mogadishu airport, I guess I'd like to have the confidence or I'd like to have a feeling that somehow AFRICOM, now that you are in existence, is going to be able to exert perhaps more influence to help clear that up.

And I have run out of time, and I know it was too big a subject, but it is worrisome to us hat we don't -- you don't have, perhaps, the organization, the ability to step in there.

I yield back, Mr. Chairman.

REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman.

Mr. Smith.

REP. ADAM SMITH: (D-WA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[Discussion Not Related to U.S. Africa Command]

REP. SMITH: Thank you.

General Ward, just I don't have a lot of time left here, but I did want to ask quickly about the situation in North Africa -- AQIM in particular. You know, as we're looking at, you know, future places that could be sort of the next Yemen, if you will, in terms of a place that rises up and becomes more of a problem than perhaps we expected -- though I will say the DOD expected Yemen for some time. It's a bit of a misconception that we didn't see that coming.

But in North Africa, in Mali and Mauritania, AQ is very active. And we simply don't have the resources there -- certainly, that we have in Iraq and Afghanistan, but even that we have watching Yemen and Somalia. What is your assessment of where that threat is at and what more we can do to be aware of what's happening' Because my great fear is there's a lot of, you know, vast, open space out there; that we know AQ is active. We don't have the type of ISR coverage or intelligence that we'd like, to know what's going on there. Could you give me your quick assessment of that region, and what more we should be doing'

GEN. WARD: Thank you, Mr. Smith. That region that you're describing is the size of the continental United States. It is a vast region. And what we are doing, working with those nations -- those are sovereign nations there, and so our effort is focused on trying to give them additional capacity, to help, in fact, have better control over those vast spaces.

So we'll work with Malians, Algerians, Burkina Faso, Niger, other nations in the Sahel so that they have increased capacity. The intel piece is a very great piece of that, sir, and so how we are enabled to -- able to have additional information that helps them understand better what the al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is doing will also be a part of their ability to (then') deal with that threat.

REP. SMITH: Could you say a quick word about Mauritania' I know we had the problem there. They're critical; they're in the middle of this. We had the problem -- they had the coup a few years back, broke off relations to a certain extent. What are we trying to do to deal with Mauritania's role in all of that'

GEN. WARD: Thankfully, the -- in Mauritania we are past the coup, and we're looking to increase our cooperation with the Mauritanians to work with them as well as others -- international players working with the Mauritanians to give them increased capacity to deal with the threat as well. And we are opening that again.

REP. SMITH: Thank you, General. (Just wanted to') -- it's an area of particular interest to me, and would like to be as supportive as I can of your efforts there.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[Discussion Not Related to U.S. Africa Command]

REP. COFFMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.

REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman.

Mr. Taylor.

REP. GENE TAYLOR (D-MS): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Gentlemen, in reverse alphabetical order, if you don't mind -- we'll start with you, General Ward -- in a minute and a half, what keeps you awake at night, if anything'

GEN. WARD: Sir, I'm concerned about the potential that American lives will be lost because of what might generate and emanate from the continent of Africa. That's why our focus on the security capacity of those nations to secure their territorial borders and secure their territorial waters is so important. Those threats could affect us wherever we may be in this globalized society, what goes on in Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, what goes on in East Africa with respect to al Qaeda, what goes on in the Maghreb with respect to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Our programs are all designed to address those threats that are faced by Americans who live on the continent and also could have an effect on us here at home.

REP. TAYLOR: Thank you, sir.

[Discussion Not Related to U.S. Africa Command]


REP. TAYLOR: General Ward, on the counterpiracy mission off of Somalia, is there anything that could not be handled by a frigate'

GEN. WARD: To my best understanding, Congressman, there is not.

REP. TAYLOR: Okay. Thank you very much, sirs. And again, thank you -- all of you for your -- for your tremendous service to our nation. Thank you for being here today.

REP. SKELTON: Chair now recognizes gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Wilson, five minutes.

REP. JOE WILSON (R-SC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And generals and Admiral, I want to join with you. I agree with you about Erin Conaton, who has been confirmed to be the undersecretary of the Air Force. Ms. Conaton has just been a -- I've seen firsthand, a devoted person for our military. And, of course, she was trained by Chairman Ike Skelton, so we know that she will be an excellent resource and supporter of our military. So I'm grateful for that.

And General Ward, of course, each year I like to welcome you. I like to remind you that Charleston, my birthplace, would love to have you and AFRICOM to locate there.

The Chamber of Commerce in Charleston has an open invitation for AFRICOM. And I -- with that, I understand that Secretary Gates has stated that a move of AFRICOM's headquarters will not be considered until 2012. When this decision is made, what are the primary issues that are going to be considered' Particularly, I'm interested in the quality of life for dependents, access to schools, medical facilities, transportation access, jobs. How will that be weighed in the decision'

GEN. WARD: Thank you, Mr. Wilson, and thank you for your invitation again as well, sir. The decision, when it's considered in 2012, has not been outlined at this point in time; however, to be sure, in any environment the quality of life, the well being of the serving members, be they uniformed or civilian, their family members will be a part of that dynamic, I'm sure. To what degree it will take, again, I'm -- we're not at that point just yet.

As you are aware, those are factors in determining where the headquarters are currently located from the standpoint of the (enduring') location that Stuttgart offers, the availability of those facilities. So I'm sure they will be considered in that same light when this decision is revisited in a few years.

REP. WILSON: Well, I -- and anytime I see you, whether in the hallway, anywhere, do understand, we would love for you to relocate to Charleston, South Carolina.


[Discussion Not Related to U.S. Africa Command]

REP. JOHNSON: Okay, thank you.

And last question, how are AFRICOM and the U.S. military efforts in Africa perceived by Africans and by other foreign nations, General Ward'

GEN. WARD: Their perception is increasingly favorable. It has been rising over the last two years. And they are continuing to increase in the most favorable way, their perceptions.

REP. JOHNSON: Thank you. Thank all three of you for your work. Thank you.

[Discussion Not Related to U.S. Africa Command]


REP. JONES: AfAc' .. General Ward, I want to pick up very briefly, because time goes so quickly with five minutes, but the issue of China -- you made a statement -- and I accept your statement, that the Chinese are, as it relates to their military, that they're not very robust, but other ways they have been very aggressive, I would assume.

My concern is that -- in your discussions with African leaders and other countries, do you feel that at the present time that the Chinese are trying to buy the hearts and souls of leaders by being able to be in a position of spending money, making investments in the infrastructure of certain countries' Do you feel that this something that policymakers in Washington, not necessarily military people, but policymakers need to be concerned about'

GEN. WARD: Thanks, Mr. Jones. I don't know if I'm in a position to characterize Chinese actions in that way.

I think what I would say is, as I see Chinese activity as they attempt to secure the sorts of things that will help fuel their economic development, they are pursuing multiple lines, multiple channels to secure resources to have the type of impact in Africa that would be in keeping with them achieving whatever their national interests from the Chinese perspective may be.

REP. JONES: Mr. Chairman, thank you. I see my time's over. Thank you.

[Discussion Not Related to U.S. Africa Command]


ADM. STAVRIDIS: And that's -- that, I think, is the right forum to address that. And I'll get back to you with a more detailed answer.

REP. SESTAK: Thank you.

Sir, I heard your response on AFRICOM. My understanding is, when we established this, we kind of pushed it a little harshly, potentially, without being a bit more ingratiating with South Africa. Is that an unfair statement, after having sat down with them a bit and talked'

GEN. WARD: I'm not aware of being -- not being fair with South Africa, Mr. Sestak. That doesn't resonate with me. The South Africans had concerns, as did a few of the other nations, that it was being established to bring large military formations, to militarize the continent. As we've seen, that didn't happen. The South Africans' response has been certainly less strident against the command.

REP. SESTAK: We have a good bilateral Defense Department relationship with South Africa, particularly in the environmental area. Is that part of your charge, also, as AFRICOM, as part of this engagement that you're doing down there'

GEN. WARD: Not directly. Our engagement, military-to-military, that is very robust. It is growing, our naval relationships, our land relationships, our air relationships, the work between, you know, the component commanders of my command and their South African counterparts --

REP. SESTAK: It's mainly military-to-military'

GEN. WARD: Mainly military-to-military.

REP. SESTAK: But wasn't your staff supposed to be two-thirds civilian, and so there was supposed to be a broader engagement than just military-to-military' GEN. WARD: The staff is about half civilian. Of that half, a percentage of that is from the Interagency -- not from the standpoint of doing the work of the Interagency; from the standpoint of how the Interagency work is more and better supported by what we do, so we have a better understanding of that.

REP. SESTAK: I understand that.

Mr. Franks, wrap it up.

REP. TRENT FRANKS (R-AZ): Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. And gentlemen, thank you for your lifetime commitment to freedom. We never are grateful enough to you.

If it's okay, I want to take off on a point that Mr. Taylor makes often about what keeps you up at night. I have to suggest to you, even though my perspective is not nearly as relevant as your own, that what keeps me up at night is the potential of Iran gaining a nuclear capability. I know that's been talked about and touched on significantly here, but I think that we perhaps made an error -- and I'm sure that there will be disagreement on the panel here -- relating to the European missile defense site.

Most of you know that the phased adaptive approach -- and when we were in the Bush administration, these were things that were planned in general already; these were already kind of on the planning schedule. But I'm concerned about the timing. You know, one of the critics -- critiques of the former missile- defense plan was that it was only expected to cover about 75 percent of our European allies by 2013. But how does the phased adaptive approach compare, coverage-wise, by percentage of allies supported by that timeline' And what can we look to in the future'

And Admiral Stavridis, I'll talk to you first about that.

ADM. STAVRIDIS: Sure. First of all, the answer to that is a technical one, and I'd have to really direct you to the Missile Defense Agency.

They're the people that kind of come with that, and they can give you a very detailed briefing on it.

But as I mentioned to Representative Sestak a moment ago, I'm confident in the ability to begin by using a sea-based system off of our Aegis ships and will provide some initial coverage. And then the plan, without going into classified details, is to use some of those systems ashore. And I'm confident that we'll be able to transition that technology.

As to the precise degree of coverage and when it walks in, there's a classified briefing that can take you through that in detail.

REP. FRANKS: Yeah. Well, Admiral Stavridis, I appreciate your perspective. I would just suggest to you that there's at least a conclusion on the part of a lot of us that even though no one supports the Aegis system more than I do -- I think it's a magnificent testimony of American technology and capability -- it's the timing. My concern is that Iran, in all of their calculus of moving toward a nuclear weapons program -- I think part of their concern is what would be the response of the Western world. I'm not sure that they're really too shook up about our response at this point. I'm thinking they're more concerned about Israel's response.

But if we had had that capability to defend most of Europe in the time frame that could have at least beat them to the punch, I think it might have played in their calculus.

At this point, I don't think that we're going to e able to be able to have much of a deterrent within the time frame here.

And I guess I'd illustrate that by -- it seems that we've made a buy of eight SM-3 Block IB interceptors for this year, and how does that affect the timeline in the phased adaptive approach' I mean, what happens if the industrial base that's currently set to produce 48 interceptors per year cannot make up the difference after two years without any real substantive orders from the Department of Defense' I mean, you understand, we're behind the eight ball here.

ADM. STAVRIDIS: Well, again, sir, I -- I'm not the right person to address the slipstream of missile moving forward, but I will take that question to the Missile Defense Agency. And I'll make sure they come and give you a brief in-depth about that.

REP. FRANKS: Okay. I certainly don't mean to badger you, because I think you're doing your job in a magnificent way.

General Mattis, I appreciate your Soldier-statesman's diplomacy in clarifying that you were saying sustainability instead of irresponsibility. That's a word left to people like myself, and I think I would probably -- if I were to use irresponsibility, I would berate myself for understatement, because I do think that the budget irresponsibility of this administration has some pretty profound implications for our military readiness in the future.

So with that in mind, if there were some area that you feel like we're maybe missing the boat on making sure that we're going to be ready for whatever contingencies come in the future, what area of the budget -- and it's not fair to ask you, but I'm sure your statesmanship will be in tact here, too -- what area of the budget would you be concerned about the most'

GEN. MATTIS: Representative, looking at my crystal ball -- which is about as good as anyone else's -- we are facing an increasingly difficult problem gaining access around the world. And that access is being denied technologically as we see a profusion of precision weaponry being passed around the world; we see it going to potential adversaries. It's political -- all politics being local, there are places where large footprints of our troops ashore are not welcome. I think we are going to have to see an increased naval aspect to how we reassure our friends and temper potential adversaries' plans using our asymmetric strengths of sea control.

REP. SKELTON: (Sounds gavel.)

GEN. MATTIS: Thank you.

REP. JONES: Well, thank you, gentlemen.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman.

Mr. McKeon, any further questions' If not, the hearing comes to a close.

We thank each one of you for being with us, for your excellent testimony. In a word, you make us proud.

Page last updated Thu March 11th, 2010 at 20:49