By U.S. Africa CommandFebruary 20, 2010
CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - Gen. William E. Ward, commander, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), held an all-hands meeting with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa team members February 10, 2010, during a routine visit.
Responding to a question from the audience, Ward emphasized that he does not intend to create any additional U.S. military joint task forces in Africa. "[G]iven the level of engagement that we're asked to do and our ability to resource those engagements, we're about where we need to be for now," Ward said.
He also told military members working in Africa to be mindful of how they interact with others, because the impressions they make will remain long after they have returned home. All personnel working in Africa leave behind some kind of footprints, he said. "The issue will be, is that footprint a footprint that you're proud of or a footprint that you wish the water would wash away in the sand'" Ward asked. "And my point is, for every one of you, the goal, the hope, is that footprint is a footprint that you're proud of."
The following is a transcript of the event:
GEN. WILLIAM WARD: Okay, I'm looking in your eyes right there -- you, you -- no, no, no, not you, the guy next to you -- no, no on the other side. (Laughter.) Well, first of all, let me say one more time, it's great to be here to see you, to see the great coalition teammates, a cast of joint folk -- marines, sailors, airmen, Soldiers, great team of civilians-both Department of Defense as well as contractors-doing work that helps promote stability in this region, doing it in a way that causes your footprint when you leave to remain. And that's a big deal.
Just think about that, hotrod -- causing your footprint when you leave to remain. And that says a whole lot. The issue will be, is that footprint a footprint that you're proud of or a footprint that you wish the water would wash away in the sand' And my point is, for every one of you, the goal, the hope, is that footprint is a footprint that you're proud of.
Good news is, from Kip Ward's perspective, the footprint that you're leaving is a footprint that I'm sure proud of, because what you're doing is manifesting itself every day and our partners here in Africa saying to me what that team does makes a difference in helping to assure peace and stability on the continent.
Now you're saying to yourself, how in the world does my job add to peace and security' How does my job help create stability' You're saying that to yourself. I'm going to tell you. I'm going to tell you! When you do your job in ways that causes your teammates or, to use my joint vernacular, your shipmates, to be better at what they do, you're helping to create stability. It isn't about what someone else is doing for you. It isn't about how you're being taken care of. It is about what you do that causes your teammate to be better.
And that is the same regardless of where you are in the formation. Matters not what level, matters not what job you have, because each of us is here to do a job. And when we do it in ways that causes our teammates to be better, that increases the great likelihood that that footprint that we all leave is a footprint that we're proud of. There isn't a whole lot that you got to do to make that a reality. Doesn't take much for that to come true.
It, for sure, doesn't happen because Ward is telling you everything that you do. I have enough trouble keeping myself squared away, let alone you relying on me to tell you what to do, how to do it and what you ought to achieve from having done it. So this is the prescription. This is the key to causing your footprint to be a footprint that you're proud of.
It's simple. First off, when you're doing what you do, are you breaking the law' Are you breaking the law when you do what you do' Yes or no' The answer is yes' That's a great start -- opposite direction. Don't break the law on your way to causing that footprint to be one that you're going to be proud of.
Second thing, is what you're doing contributing to making my teammate better' Now, I just came from a place where I'm sure glad some teammates were doing what they were doing because I just ate some chow. And without that chow that I ate, I would not be able to walk around and talk to you. I'm also very hopeful that it was prepared in a way that when I go back tonight somewhere, I won't have to kiss the porcelain too much. (Chuckles.)
Now, you know what I'm talking about. Every now and then, that comes along too. Are you causing your teammate to be better by what you do' Can't be here to watch everything that you do. You don't want me watching everything you do. And I don't want to be watching everything you do.
What I do want you to be doing is being responsible for what you've been charged to do as a member of this team, taking the type of appropriate action that causes what you do to work on the behalf and for the betterment of your teammates -- causing what you do to be seen as positive by the those with whom you serve.
And when you do that, when you do it in a way that says, yeah, I am being responsible, my actions are helping my teammates, I'm not breaking the law, I'm serving with dignity, I'm serving with honor and I'm serving with respect for my teammates and this mission that I'm doing is helping to create conditions such that when I'm gone, that footprint is one that I'm proud of, then you got it. Then you got it.
Now I get asked from time to time, why are you such an old man still in the Army' I do what I do because of the privilege, quite candidly -- the privilege of serving with women and men such as yourselves who have at the central core of what you do, the fact that your actions are helping to preserve in some cases, in other cases, helping to secure peace.
Not just for yourselves -- but to be sure, that counts -- but also for those who are around you and your fellow citizens from the countries that you call home. And to be able to do it in an environment such as this where we work together -- wearing various forms of the battle dress, but all for a common purpose -- promoting stability. And that's a big deal.
And oh, by the way, not everyone is doing that. You think back to your high schools, and for some of you, you're thinking a long time ago. And think back to those who you used to run around doing things with and what they're doing today versus what you're doing today, where you're doing it.
Not everyone can do what you do -- let alone if they might want to do it, they just flat out cannot do it. So you are indeed special, what you do matters and it's making a difference that will cause your footprint to be one that we're all proud of. So, kind of, give yourself a litmus test every day.
And what kind of footprint are you making' Now, irrespective of what your military occupational or civilian specialty is, now, what kind of footprint are you making' Footprint you want to be proud of is the case. And that's all you have to do every morning.
You're walking down wherever you walk, be on the front row as a bear, man. (Laughter.) (Chuckles.) Where you from' Where's home, originally' Oregon' Kind of like Oregon. (Laughter.) All you have to do -- just, you know, kind of, symbolically -- many of you have heard me talk about, you know, it's improve the foxhole every day.
And where you are is your foxhole. Make sure that every day you work to improve it. As you're taking a walk, just look back -- am I proud of that footprint I just left' And just do that. When you do that three or four times a day, I guarantee you, you won't need anybody else telling you whether or not you will be proud of your footprint. Because you will make that determination yourself.
So as you're taking that stroll and when you see folks around the camp looking back, don't think they've lost their mind; just know what they're doing is, they're checking their footprint to make sure that the footprint that they're leaving is a footprint that they want to be there and that they're proud of. It's easy to do.
You'll see me doing it. I'll been walking around -- what's he looking at' Because I'm doing the same thing. I want to be proud of the footprint just like I know you do. Here's the good news: I've been walking around the camp today -- a lot of footprints. And none needed to be erased.
What you do matters. What you do contributes to this mission being done in a way that we all can be proud of as you check out the footprint that you're leaving. What you do contributes to stability, not just here in this part of the world, on this continent, but indeed, in today's environment of global connectivity, it matters to all of us wherever we are. So what you do matters. We're here because we volunteered. No one is here because they were forced to be here. We all volunteered to serve. And that's a good thing.
That's the first unifying aspect of getting the mission accomplished. We all volunteered to move ahead, for the cause of peace and security. We're fortunate to be able to do it in a place, such as this, that matters, and where we are doing our effort is making a difference as we work with our partners on the continent, our partners internationally, our partners who are members of other parts of our government, in helping to secure peace as we do with this command that is so noted for integrating those elements of diplomacy, development and defense that leads to the stability that serves all of us best.
And your role, your job, your actions and getting that mission accomplished is critical -- absolutely, critical. Good news is, you're doing it and you're doing it in excellent fashion. And just to give it a sanity check every now and then, look back and check your footprint. Is it one that you want to leave there' You want that answer to be yes every time. And only you are the judge of that, and when the answer is yes, the mission is being accomplished.
And I serve because of the privilege of leaving a footprint side-by-side with yours. Proud of you, thanks for what you do, proud of your service, proud of your decision to be a part of this endeavor. When you get on your laptops or your cell phones or you write your letters to some -- and you've heard me say this before -- somebody that loves you -- some of you have a hard time finding someone that loves you, I know that, but that's okay; just keep searching -- (laughter) -- you send that note to somebody that loves you -- your husband, your wife, your mom, your dad, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, brother, sister -- let them know that Kip Ward says thank you.
Thanks to them for the support they provide to you, enabling you to serve your teammates more effectively. It's a big deal. So you owe them thanks as well. Proud of you. Take care. Now, I'll stop in case there's a question or two that I might be able to answer, since the admiral set me up for that. I was going to do an exit, stage right, before he got a chance, but seriously, I'm happy to, if you've got a thought, a question, comment, it's open to you. Otherwise, we'll do some push-ups. Hoo-ah!
(Chorus of, "Hoo-ah!")
GEN. WILLIAM WARD: Yeah, ooh-rah, hoo-ah!
(Chorus of, "Hoo-ah!")
GEN. WILLIAM WARD: I'm here. Now, I'm going to tell you something: All over this camp, as I've walked around checking up footprints, I also left some things -- little microphones -- everywhere -- in the head, in the chow hall, in the gym, in the sand, in the gravel -- little microphones.
So as you're walking back to wherever you're going and you're saying, now, I just wanted to ask the General that, but I didn't do it, I'm going to hear you. Then I'm going to come find you. So this is your chance, if you've got something that you want me to say or not say or talk about. I don't see any hands. It's not time to get off, yet, so where are you going' I'm helping you out. Yes, ma'am' Hi, Captain Huegel.
CAPT. VALERIE HUEGEL: Nice to meet -- nice to see you.
GEN. WILLIAM WARD: Yes, we've met before, ma'am.
CAPT. VALERIE HUEGEL: Nice to see you again. Just wondered whether or not there's going to be any other JTFs stood up in Africa, for the different regions.
GEN. WILLIAM WARD: No. (Laughter.) Why not' Typically, as you know, joint task forces are stood up for specific reasons, to do specific missions. Right now, our nation is prosecuting two wars -- big drain on resources, as are all of the other partners who are involved in those -- and quite candidly, as AFRICOM continues to mature as a COCOM -- as a combatant command -- and as its components -- and you know that there are four components, plus a sub-unified command and a joint taskforce that comprise AFRICOM.
Obviously, you know who you are here. There's also a U.S. Army Africa, a U.S. Air Forces Africa, a U.S. Marine Forces Africa and a U.S. Naval Forces Africa, as well as a Special Operations Command Africa. So right now, we think that with the specified mission that the JTF has here in this part of the continent, with what our Special Operations Command does in the North of Africa with the Joint Special Operations Taskforce Trans-Sahara, and as what the other four components do -- Army Africa, Air Forces Africa, Naval Forces Africa, Marine Forces Africa -- and given the level of engagement that we're asked to do and our ability to resource those engagements, we're about where we need to be for now.
Certainly, should things change, always ready to modify and adjust that. But that's kind of where we are right now, and I don't see that changing for the immediate future. Yes, ma'am, yes ma'am. The captain saved you, because had she not asked that question, you all had something in store for you like you've never seen before.
They're coming your way, man! Okay, anything else'
Stay fit, take care of yourselves, take care of your buddies, let someone who loves you know that you appreciate their support. Let them know that I appreciate their support for you. Check out your footprint. You be the judge: Is it one that you want to stay' Make that answer yes. You determine that; no one else does it for you. We all achieve success when those conditions are met. Proud of you, proud of what you do. God bless you and thanks a lot. Hoo-ah! (Applause.)
(Chorus of, "Hoo-ah!")