Historic summit concludes with emphasis on adapting land forces to meet 21st century challenges
May 17, 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The African Land Forces Summit closed today with remarks from Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Maj. Gen. William B. Garrett, commanding general, U.S. Army Africa.
Emphasizing cooperation and flexibility among military forces, Garrett thanked each delegate for their contributions to the historic gathering.
"Look at what we've accomplished over the past few days," Garrett said. "We see that we all need to adapt our forces to threats before they reach a crisis point."
Garrett, mentioning Monday's Pentagon trip, explained the importance of having distinct civil and military authorities. Recognizing the difference between the two, he said, helps legitimize governments and prevent conflicts of interest within nations. He also expressed gratitude for the volume of issues addressed.
"Little did we know how much you would all have to say," Garrett said. "The dialogue we started this week will not end here... it must be done on a continuing basis."
He encouraged the delegates to set up their own regional conferences, adding he hoped all future African Land Forces Summits would be hosted on the continent.
Presenting each senior delegate and delegation staff member with U.S. Army Africa coins minted especially for this summit, Garrett accepted gifts from many of the leaders. The gifts included native statues, handicrafts, and framed certificates.
Col. Saliou Ndiaye of Senegal was chosen by the delegates to deliver closing remarks. Speaking through an interpreter, Ndiaye acknowledged the long way African nations have to go - together.
"The frank handshake we have given one another is one of fraternity, and this fraternity knows no borders," Ndiaye said. "The world is an ever-smaller global village, and the stakeholders must know each other."
Turning to Garrett, Ndiaye said Africans are ready to fight through challenges and for security.
"Be our interpreter to the American authorities," Ndiaye said to Garrett. "And don't be impatient - none of these countries have been independent for more than 60 years, for more than one lifetime. We will learn from our mistakes and correct our trajectory."
Ndiaye said this week he met a classmate from his military academy class, whom he hadn't seen since graduation in 1979.
"We are both African, but we had to come to America to find each other after all this time," he said. "Thank you for everything."