STUTTGART, Germany - A delegation of Senegalese media representatives visited U.S. Africa Command headquarters as part of an orientation program to explain the command's mission, December 14-18, 2009, culminating in an on-the-record interview with AFRICOM commander Gen. William Ward.

The group consisted of four Senegalese journalists, who lead prominent media organizations in Senegal; the director of information for the Senegalese Armed Forces; the public affairs officer for the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, as well as a media specialist from the U.S. Embassy. The founder and chairman of the African Advisory Board joined the group during their weeklong visit to the command where they met with senior staff members to discuss the command's programs and activities.

"It's very important for us to have journalists visit and see things for themselves," explained Colonel Franklin Childress, public affairs officer for the command. "We work hard to explain what we are doing on the continent of Africa and to be transparent in our activities. This visit allowed us to give the Senegalese delegation a good overview of the command and also address our programs specific to Senegal."

Senegalese visitors met with directorate representatives and traveled to Ramstein Air Base to meet Major General Ron Ladnier, U.S. Air Force Africa and 17th Air Force commander.

Media members toured AFN-Europe studios in Mannheim, Germany, and met with the European Stars and Stripes staff in Kaiserslautern, Germany during their visit. In addition, Senegalese journalists conducted on-the-record interviews with Vice Admiral Robert Moeller and Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command's deputies to the commander for military operations and civil-military activities, respectively.

The delegation also received in-depth briefings on the command, its programs and how it engages with Senegal and other African nations in events such as Africa Partnership Station.

APS focuses on building cooperative partnerships with African nations' maritime services in order to achieve common international goals such as stability and security. APS brings an international team of maritime experts including elements from Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United States to offer assistance in addressing maritime safety and security challenges such as unlawful, unregulated and illegal fishing, piracy and illicit trafficking.

Senegal is serving as one of three main hubs for the APS flag ship the USS Gunston Hall in 2010. Senegal will have embedded staff member and embarked trainees participating.

At the week's conclusion, Aminatou M. Diop, editor in chief of Le Quotidien, thanked everyone for the briefings and access given to her and the delegation. "This is my second time meeting with General Ward's staff. The first time in Senegal. Now that I have been on the inside of Africa Command my view is very different. I feel like I know you now."