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Old 01-11-2007   #21
Eddie Beaver
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Default I Oppose AFRICOM As It Stands Now

I explained my opposition to this in more detail on my blog earlier.

Essentially, the US needs to do a lot more on non-military fronts before they set an Africa Command up for failure.

A secondary point; an Africa command should be considered a test lab for tactics, organization and strategy. Why do we need to have a huge typical command structure? Such a command could be heavily focused on a small number of key personnel who help train African militaries in peacekeeping and stablization operations, develop important relations with governments, NGO's & civic organizations to counter AIDS, rampant crime and terrorism and place a heavy emphasis on developing the capabilities of police and auxilary forces to deal with natural disasters, disease epidemics, refugee crises and urban disorder. Why not focus on light infantry training (i.e. what H. John Poole advocates in "Terrorist Trails")?

If this command is focused on counterterrorism, it will be a tragic missed opportunity.

Last edited by Eddie Beaver; 01-11-2007 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 01-11-2007   #22
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Default Good Points

Eddie,

I know you have read my book and my comments on support to Mobutu. I agree with your concerns and you state them well.

I would also say, however, that barring establishing an Africa Command, the continent will be what it has been to date, a European Command or Central Command after thought--until something like Rwanda or Sudan gets those commands' attention.

JTFHOA has a broad program and I am encouraged by it. I would--like you--prefer to see much greater emphasis on AIDS as a security issue. But again without that critical unified command with its budget and focus such efforts are very likely to get the chop.

Again great post on your blog!

Best

Tom
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Old 01-11-2007   #23
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Default "they will have to win the “hearts and minds” of the embassies first..."

So well put, and by no means an easy task. Just ask Tom.

These days, if and when HA funds manage around a continuing resolusion, the fish bowl we know as the country team and eventually an assignments officer (typically the most junior and the least knowlegeable member in country with an already full plate) will or should begin a precious cycle of events that were originally intended to help the host nation. Basically, hopeless and a ton of paper. When the State dude does show, you better have one hell of a good presentation coupled with fresh bodies, mines, and whatever you can come up with for dinner, cause he's staying for that too !

That was the easy part.

The idea of an African Command leaves me wondering what kind of experience these good folks are coming with. Language and customs will not be nearly enough. Most have never tasted the games of DOS. Foggy Bottom produces some of the strangest members I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with.

We sat in one of the most inhospitable places in the world, and although the JTF had some fine soldiers along, things still went tango sierra in less than 45 days. With all that sierra going on, nobody in K/town was home. Tom had assembled a team that could get along in almost any situation, including Goma. By no means a small task. Mind you, these were senior NCOs and Officers with years and years of experience.

To now assemble a team of African Specialists and simply leave them to the dogs of the country team before they even get started, will be a fate far worse than Goma, Zäire.

I wish them the best of luck !
Regards, Stan
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Old 01-11-2007   #24
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Default That Would Be Us, Stan

Or them like us, to complete the toast, my friend.

Hopefully an Africa command would build over time--just like any unified command and take advantage of those who have been on the ground in manning.

Remember, Stan, that guys like COL Fields and LTC Ball in 1993 and 1994 were allowing DHS to close African stations without comment. DHS closed the African Bureau and consolidated it with the Middle East Bureau. Fields wanted to close us; I saw MG Leide in Pretoria in Nov 93 and convinced him to keep us open. And then the fight to stand up a station in Rwanda took me 18 months to win--and cost me any chance of getting anything but another "prize" assignment, regardless of how much Jim Clapper, Jack Liede, or Pat Huges liked me. Those are the kind of guys (Ball and Fields) an African Command does not need.

Manned correctly, a dedicated command would do much to make courtship of the country teams an easier romance. For one thing, it would serve as a counterpart to State's African Bureau as well as Langley--and you know how much I love Langley.

Best regards my friend,

Tom

PS Your hardcopy book went in the mail today
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Old 01-11-2007   #25
Eddie Beaver
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Default

Tom,

Agreed on Africa being an afterthought without the creation of an Africa command.

Perhaps a streamlined version of JTF-HOA could establish some semblance of progress in key countries and trouble spots.

Do you think it is realistic for us to pursue a stronger strategic and mil to mil relationship with South Africa, i.e. perhaps even establishing Africa Command on the ground there? I don't think Nigeria is the better option, especially with the intensity of their current and brewing crises.

(thank you for reading my blog post, I hope to write with more clarity and understanding in both the near future with more study of the subjects involved and in the mid-future (early next year) with some travels on the ground).

Stan,
Always good to have the voice of reason and experience added to Pentagon dreaming. You ask a very critical question that begs serious concern, not only for your reasons but for the wrong kinds of attitudes people could bring (an obsession with force protection to the point of rendering goals unattainable) and a question of quality personnel in case Africa command is inevitably treated as the red headed step child of priorities in a strategic landscape dominated by contractor-driven China fear and Middle East instability.
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Old 01-11-2007   #26
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Default Where's the Leader when you need her ?

Remember Ambassador Wells ? She could have been a Sergeant Major with diplomatic skills !!!

She not only was one hell of a lady, she also knew how to run the shop and could quickly identify people accomplishing their missions even in the sight of death. She later came to Estonia shortly after my retirement.

Although the Flags of the DHS were indeed tending to their own agendas (I hated what they were doing to you and, as an E7 other than my abilities and experience, had little to offer you), I still believe that if the Ambo is professional as was Mellisa (sp?) and able to recognize who was pulling their load, and keep the other bone-heads in check (that she did well) our bung hole in Goma would have been far easier to cope with and we probably would have had immediate help.

I think you told me on several occasions, that our ordeal in Goma would be settled or handled inside the Beltway. How correct you were. Goma simply provided the excitement and tourists.

I would then have to conclude that Flags will once again provide that fatal penstroke and fate of some fellow NCOs and Officers.

Thanks in advance for the Xmas gift ! I am pondering over yours.

Regards, Stan
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Old 01-11-2007   #27
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Default Never Met Wells

Wells I never met. I remember you speaking of her wisfully everytime you had to deal with the Charge or his Deputy.

But Dave Rawson in Rwanda followed by Bob Gribbin were completely different than the clutch of village idiots we faced in K Town. Just as the RPA impressed us both when we crossed the border, so Rawson (and later Gribbin) impressed me. It was almost like the "diplomats" in K-Town were mimicking the FAZ while we operated like the RPA in Kigali.

I remember blowing my stack one day in Goma because the Deputy accosted me and complained that General Nix and I were not keeping him informed of what we were doing. He in his very best British accent* proclaimed, "Tom, I am a 3 Star equivalent!"

I was tired and you were not there to drag me away. I told him, "You are a 3 Star Asshole!" and then followed with as polite an explanation as I could muster that the General and I were busy doing things like bringing in aircraft and God knows what else. He was so shocked by my initial burst that he actually listened and nodded his head at everything else I had to say. But he did leave the next day

It all goes back to leadership--if the leaders are self-interested prima donnas, the rest of the mission will tend to follow in their paths.
Best

Tom

*the gentleman in question was from Oklahoma
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Old 01-11-2007   #28
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Default Always good to have the voice of reason and experience added to Pentagon dreaming.

Thanks Eddie !
I enjoyed the refreshing opinion you have RE AFRICOM. Even as late as 84, the NGOs and CDC were buried in AIDS. We at least thought that "somebody's doing something" even though the task was far beyond reality and any funding.

I think (you know what they say about opinions and A holes) Pretoria is probably too far away from Central Africa, but from an NCOs point of view, would have to say it's at least stable enough for your team to come back to and relax. That, or burn out. Tom knows what that does....he watched me progress to that point with no way out. Sounds kinda dumb, but little details seem to be often overlooked on the beltway. Even in 85 we carried 2 passports. One with a South African visa and the other with whatever.

Medical and R&R required a South African visa.

I think that holds true to this day in that neck of the woods.

Regards, Stan
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Old 01-11-2007   #29
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Default Leadership, even in the State Department

Tom,
I would only later read about you and Rawson. I wondered, should I contact Tom, see what the F is going on there ? My DATT, a Navy 05 told me Rawson was not one to leave things idle and watch, rather get the troops in the mud. Hence all the press in DC.

Likewise, I said to the Commander, if the Colonel is still there, the troops are already in the mud !

I think we cooked this thread !
Regards, Stan
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Old 01-11-2007   #30
Eddie Beaver
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Is the US relationship with Rwanda stable and viable enough then for some form of proposed AFRICOM detachment there? I have heard a lot of promising things about their performance in Dar Fur....

Understood about the distance with South Africa, but one wonders about a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe... which I suppose the South Africans may want to handle much as they did Mozambique in the 90's....
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Old 01-11-2007   #31
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Default Is the US relationship with Rwanda stable and viable enough ?

Eddie,
Back when I was handling the SAO training for Rwanda, we were gold. We were the candy men, bringing in our resources and (ahem) advice.
Rwanda was peaceful on the outside and we had no clue what was brewing inside.

I would think we still have a place there, but I am by no means an expert. I simply try to get along with people, even if I can't stand them. I have no idea how I do that.

These folks were professionals and expected the same from us. Perhaps why we were always welcome. Even the Zamish Chief remembered to bring beef jerky to the Rwandan Military Commander. Relatively small and a cheap jesture, but it worked. I think that would hold true today, but I have no desire to return and see if my assumptions are correct, even with beef jerky !

All of this BS aside, you're on the right track. Relatively close, air and sea ports and hopefully a friendly reception. Travel from there is a tad harder, but you would now be central and have a few exit strategies in hand.

Going to bed, too late to type !
Regards, Stan
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Old 01-12-2007   #32
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Default Great blog post!

Hi Eddie,

Really great blog post, although I think you might be being a touch too cynical in point two <wry grin>. Sure, the US has had a disastrous history in Africa but, as Tom noted, this might well be countered by the creation of an Africa Command. Personally, I think that anew command might be a good institutional starting point for creating integrated military and non-military teams (i.e getting some non-state actors in on our side). I would also view it as a chance to allow US allies (like us guys up here in de frozen North!) to get some decent logistical support and, if necessary, backup.

Marc
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Old 01-13-2007   #33
Eddie Beaver
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Marct,

I agree now that the formation of an Africa Command would be a positive step, but I just see the utter lack of comprehension of Africa at the higher levels in government.

Obviously, there are a great number of talented, devoted and highly capable diplomats, soldiers and other members of the US and Allied governments who have a good handle on Africa and understand many of the complex dangers, trends and opportunities there. Their efforts and talents are regressed though when they're being undercut by strategic neglect from above.

Cynical? Maybe, probably. Viewing the stupidity of this administration over Liberia, Sudan, Somalia and Zimbabwe just makes me look at the past with less of a dumbfounded expression and more of an understanding of why we continue to make bad calls.

You are exceptionally right in we could and should do a lot more to offer support and work together in joint endeavors as allies and friends in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean political and cultural spheres and on the continent itself.
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Old 01-13-2007   #34
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Default Rwandan-US Relations

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Originally Posted by Eddie Beaver View Post
Is the US relationship with Rwanda stable and viable enough then for some form of proposed AFRICOM detachment there? I have heard a lot of promising things about their performance in Dar Fur....

Understood about the distance with South Africa, but one wonders about a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe... which I suppose the South Africans may want to handle much as they did Mozambique in the 90's....

Eddie,

I can only relate what had happened there while I was on the ground and what happened in the immediate aftermath. I would also recommend you look at Bob Gribbin's book on Rwanda--he was my 2nd Ambassador and worked with my replacement, then MAJ Rick Orth, a superb officer and now I happy to say a full Colonel who has 3 DATT tours under his belt. Rick has published some papers on Rwanda that you can find via Google.

I do know that we have been planning the Darfur deployment with the Rwandans; I say that because there was an MPRI advertisement four an MDMP instructor to go to Kigali. Frankly I that is much like shipping coal to West Virginia: the Rwandans can plan and execute quite well, thank you very much. At times I despair over our inescapable arrogance when it comes to that sort of thing, as if we are the experts on planning...

What they would really need would be coaching on how to integrate operations with us and international organizations.

best

Tom
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Old 01-27-2007   #35
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Default

Caught this snippet over at Lightfighter.net:

Quote:
Pentagon’s African Command: Will It Float?

By Sandra I. Erwin and Grace V. Jean

While Pentagon officials fine-tune plans to create a new military command to oversee Africa, Navy leaders are floating a proposal to base that command’s headquarters on a ship at sea.

Supporters contend that a Navy ship offers extra security and flexibility to move around as crises erupt. The high-tech vessel envisioned for this role also would be uniquely equipped to handle all forms of top-secret communications and command-and-control functions, says Rear Adm. Barry J. McCullough III, director of Navy surface warfare.

For many years, the Navy has wavered on the idea of building a state-of-the-art “joint command-and-control ship,” and the project in recent years lost momentum as the Navy struggled to fund other ships. But the African Command would be a reason to resurrect a joint command-and-control ship, McCullough says. “Everyone knows we are going to stand up AFRICOM … But where are we going to headquarter that command?” An “afloat command” is one option being mulled over, he says. “You have to have something to put the commanders and staff on with the right C4ISR to execute the mission.”
If not aboard ship ("standby for heavy rolls"), where might an AFRICOM set down stakes. CONUS? Egypt or Djibouti?

If I ever had to suck down a joint tour, I could see myself doing it at a new command such as this.
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Old 01-31-2007   #36
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A mobile command like this wouldn't be a bad idea. Maybe take an older aircraft carrier like my last ship due for decommissioning in 2008 (the Kitty Hawk) and utilize it like we did during OEF or how my new ship (the Abe Lincoln) was utilized for the tsunami relief campaign.
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Old 01-31-2007   #37
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Default

As I also posted over at Lightfighter, I know a Naval Architect in Gloucester, who has been advocating such a ship for a couple of decades, now. His design would be completely self-sufficient, to include recreation and school facilities for dependents.

For those interested, his name is Philip C. Bolger, and his design is largely sail powered, as mobility would be secondary to station-keeping. Of course, a nuke plant would keep it at sea indefinitely.

A very interesting idea; also was broached by Popular Science a couple of years ago.
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Old 01-31-2007   #38
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My understanding is that AFRICOM HQ will remain in Stuttgart. I think a command ship is a bad idea for a number of reasons. First, nobody really wants to "live" full time on a ship for a 2 or 3 year staff tour. Dependents at sea, on a massive nuke powered cruise ship sounds keen, but it would not financially feasible. Nor would I want my family living on a big floating target while I was working off the coast of Somalia, Nigeria, etc. There are also bandwidth contraints, logistics and other issues that prevent this from being a viable option. JTF HOA was moved ashore from Navy command ships for good reasons.
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Old 02-06-2007   #39
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Default Gates: Africa Command Will Give US More Effective Approach to Continent

6 February Voice of America - Gates: Africa Command Will Give US More Effective Approach to Continent by Al Pessin. Posted in full per USG guidelines.

Quote:
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has announced that the U.S. military will create a new command for Africa. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon officials say the command is to be established by September of next year.

Secretary Gates made the announcement at a Senate committee hearing.

"The president has decided to stand up a new unified combatant command, Africa Command, to oversee security cooperation, building partnership capability, defense support to non-military missions, and, if directed, military operations on the African Continent," he said.

Officials say the new command's primary responsibility will be to work with African governments and militaries to try to avoid the need for U.S. military missions on the continent. They say it will have a larger diplomatic and aid component than other U.S. regional commands around the world. In addition, there will be an emphasis on training African militaries to enable them to better control their territory and keep terrorists out, and to improve their understanding of human rights issues and the need to respect civilian authority.

A Kenyan contingent prepares for a simulated joint military exercise with US forces (18 August 2006).

Currently, responsibility for operations in Africa is divided mainly between two commands whose primary duties lie elsewhere, with the Indian Ocean islands coming under a third unit, U.S. Pacific Command. Under the new structure, Egypt will be the only country in Africa not working directly with the new command. It will remain part of the responsibility of Central Command, which also covers the rest of the Middle East and Central Asia.

"This command will enable us to have a more effective and integrated approach than the current arrangement of dividing Africa between Central Command and European Command, an outdated arrangement left over from the Cold War," he added. "This department will consult closely with the congress and work with our European and African allies to implement this effort."

Officials say a transition team will soon begin work near U.S. European Command headquarters in Germany to work out the details of Africa Command and to begin bringing together the personnel, equipment and military units it will need. Once the command becomes operational next year, officials hope it will be headquartered in Africa.

Analysts have largely welcomed the long-anticipated announcement, but they caution that the administration must make a major effort to ensure that the creation of Africa Command is not misperceived as a threat on the continent. Defense Department officials say they plan to do that.
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Old 02-06-2007   #40
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Default More...

6 February NY Times - Bush Creates New Military Command for Africa by David Stout.

Quote:
The Pentagon will establish a new military command to oversee its operations in Africa, President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced today.

Creation of the United States Africa Command, which had been expected, will “strengthen our security cooperation with Africa and create new opportunities to bolster the capabilities of our partners in Africa,” Mr. Bush said.

The president said he had directed Mr. Gates to have the command established by the fiscal year that ends on Sept. 30, 2008. The location of the new command will be determined after discussions with Congress and officials of countries on the continent, Mr. Bush said...
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