Ham testifies at AFRICOM confirmation hearing
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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next commander of U.S. Africa Command outlined his objectives, November 18, during a confirmation hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Africa is important to U.S. national security interests, Army General Carter F. Ham told committee members.

"These interests," Ham said, "include concerns over violent extremist activities, piracy, illicit trafficking, Africa's many humanitarian crises, armed conflict, and more general challenges such as the effect of HIV/AIDS."

AFRICOM has a role in addressing each of these issues, Ham said, as the military component of a U.S. whole-of-government approach.

However, "the key remains that Africa's future is up to Africans," the general said.

Ham, who currently commands U.S. Army Europe, appeared during a joint confirmation hearing with Air Force General Claude Kehler, who is nominated to head U.S. Strategic Command.

AFRICOM was established in October 2007 and operated under U.S. European Command during its first year. AFRICOM transitioned to independent unified command status in 2008.

According to AFRICOM officials, the command, which is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, focuses on synchronizing hundreds of activities inherited from three regional commands that previously coordinated U.S. military relations in Africa.

"If confirmed, I look forward to building upon the command's efforts, to continue expanding the unique interagency composition of the headquarters, and to enhancing partnerships with African nations," Ham said.

Ham said that if he is confirmed, he will have a lot to learn about Africa and AFRICOM, but that he will work closely with the committee "to ensure [AFRICOM] is correctly focused on accomplishing its role in support of U.S. policy objectives in Africa."

Ham also told the committee that as AFRICOM commander he'd endeavor "to uphold the trust and confidence you place in me, to accomplish the many and varied important missions of the command, and to the very best of my ability provide for the well-being of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, civilians and families entrusted to my care."

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