UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Transcript

Presenter: Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Ryan Henry April 23, 2007 3:00 PM EDT

DoD News Briefing with Principal Deputy Under Secretary Henry from the Pentagon

BRYAN WHITMAN (Pentagon spokesman): Good afternoon and welcome. It's my privilege once again to introduce and welcome back to the briefing room Ryan Henry, who is our principal undersecretary of Defense for policy, and has just returned from discussions with several African nations, and is prepared to talk to you about those discussions that he has had, as well as the department's efforts -- actually, the United States government's efforts, really, to stand up a new unified command in this region. And he has several colleagues with him here that he's going to introduce, so why I don't just turn it over to the Honorable Ryan Henry.

MR. HENRY: Thank you, Bryan. We have just returned from consultations with different host nations on the African continent. That occurred over the 15th through the 21st of April this year. And we think the discussions we had with our African partners were fruitful. We visited the countries of Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, the African Union, Ghana, and Senegal.

On the team, besides myself, were Ms. Theresa Whelan, our deputy assistant secretary for African Affairs; Linda Thomas-Greenfield from the State Department, who is the principal deputy at the Africa Bureau; Ambassador Robert Loftis, who is the State Department representative on the transition team for AFRICOM; Mr. Walter North, who is the deputy administrator for USAID for Africa; Claudia Anyaso -- I always miss -- Claudia -- (laughter) who is the director for Public Policy and Diplomacy in the Africa Bureau.

Also not here today but accompanying us were Rear Admiral James Hart, who is the commander, Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa; and Colonel Patrick Mackin, who was the representative from the transition team out of EUCOM.

The message that we took to those who we consulted was that we were entering into a dialogue. We found that that dialogue was generally positive and very cordial, with varying degrees of frankness, and we were able to answer questions of their concerns. We let them know that the face that we were showing them, an interagency face, was reflective of what AFRICOM would be -- as you might be aware, that it is unique in that a deputy commander in AFRICOM will be a civilian. The first one will be a representative from the State Department. AFRICOM will stand up as a sub-unified command in -- some time in fiscal year '07, in all probability the latter part, probably in the September time frame, and will be a fully -- when it reaches full operational capability will be in fiscal year '08, again, probably some time in the September time frame.

We spoke to them of the rationale -- and we've been here before in discussing that with you on why now -- and hit the points that previously we had looked at Africa through the prism of the Cold War, and we thought about Africa in relationship to our other interests, and so we had divided different portions of it into three other unified commands. And now is the time to look at Africa as Africans do, from a continental perspective, to have a senior military officer and a senior organization within the department to be thinking and concerned about Africa and only Africa 24 by seven. And it was also a recognition of the importance that Africa is playing in the future strategic environment.

We spoke to them a little bit of the organization as we currently understand it. That would be one that, while it would be a Department of Defense organization, that it would be compromised of members across the interagency, that exact organizational structure would be probably be evolutionary and adapt over time. This is the first time that we've structured a unified command like this with an interagency perspective; that we would explore different ways to do the manning, both within the U.S. government and perhaps participation from other governments; and that this did not mean any sort of change in a basing structure or troop positions on the continent, rather that it was an organizational change that we are making, how we are approaching it from a senior staff perspective.

We let them know that as far as the location of the headquarters goes -- there's a lot of interest in this -- that no decisions have been made, our thinking is still evolving. The only major decision that's been made is that the commander of AFRICOM will be stationed and have -- he specifically will be on the continent. And we will do that at the first possible opportunity, hopefully before it becomes fully operational.

We were making effort to keep the footprint small and as unobtrusive as possible on the continent. We discussed different mission areas, as we've discussed with you before, emphasizing the humanitarian, the building partnership capability, civil affairs aspects, things that we can help in improving border and maritime security and the professionalization of the militaries there on the African continent.

And then we would also look to work with the host nations to improve their capacity to exercise sovereignty over any ungoverned spaces that they might have.

The goal is for AFRICOM not to be a U.S. leadership role on the continent but rather to be supporting the indigenous leadership efforts that are currently going on. We heartily support the leadership from different nations and that of the AU and the regional economic communities that are there and the security capabilities that they provide. So we would be looking to complement rather that compete with any leadership efforts currently going on.

Again, the discussions were fruitful. It was of interest that there was a request for a continuing dialogue, which we and AFRICOM as it stands up will continue to do. With every group we met with, there were a number of misconceptions, and I think the discussion changed quite a bit as we were able to correct some of those misperceptions. So let me just touch on some of those briefly and then I'll turn it over to you for your questions.

It was a number of misunderstandings that we needed to clear up. One is that AFRICOM did not mean that there would be additional U.S. forces put on the continent. It is an organizational and a staffing structure, it is not an operational entity. It will coordinate the efforts of operational forces, but those would principally be in the areas of joint exercises.

AFRICOM does not mean the dramatic increase in resources to the African continent from the Department of Defense or from the U.S. government. This administration has made significant investment in the improvement of the quality of life on the African continent, increasing it over threefold. And AFRICOM would be there to coordinate the department's efforts, with other elements of the U.S. government, to make those investments successful. It was -- we made clear that not all the decisions, or perhaps very many of the decisions, regarding AFRICOM and the details of the execution have been made. And that's why we were consulting, to get their insights and perspectives so that when AFRICOM did stand up, that it could be as friendly to working with its -- the host nation governments there as possible.

We hopefully cleared up the misunderstanding that AFRICOM was not being stood up in response to Chinese presence on the continent. It was not being stood up solely for the effort of enhanced counterterrorism, and it was not being stood up in order to secure resources, a particular sensitivity to the oil resources. While some of these may be part of the formula, the reason that AFRICOM is being stood up is, Africa, again as we have mentioned, is emerging on the world scene as a strategic player, and we need to deal wit it as a continent. We were sensitive to the host nation's government as far as the size and location of the headquarters. And again, we will work with them to come up with something that is appropriate for the missions.

And finally, we cleared up any misunderstandings that we were coming forth with American or U.S. solutions to African problems. That's not what Africa is about. AFRICOM is to work with the nations and the multinational organizations there to support African solutions for the continent, both in the area of security and stability.

And with that, I will be glad to turn it over to any questions that you might have. Yes.

Q You said that you have not made a decision on where the headquarters will be. But is it safe to say that it will be in one of the six countries you visited?

MR. HENRY: No, it's not. I -- there has not been any process of elimination going on right now, and it's not safe to say that it will be in any single country. There are a number of different models that are being looked at, and so pretty much all the options are on the table right now.

Q So why'd you choose those six?

MR. HENRY: Because those are the ones we courted now, coordinated with on this particular trip. We'll be going back and making subsequent trips, and we believe that we will have hit all the key players before we're done with the consultation round.

Yes, sir.

Q Sir, what are the countries that you're planning to visit in the near future?

MR. HENRY: Well, we'll wait until those arrangements are finalized and let the countries announce that, rather than us doing it from here.


Q You've mentioned, one of the misconceptions was that there would be a significant increase of troops on the African continent. If there's not going to be a significant increase and the mission's troops will do -- sounds pretty much like what they're doing now, what is the actual change or effect on the creation of AFRICOM on U.S. troops?

MR. HENRY: On U.S. troops, in the near-term I wouldn't see a lot of change. In the long-term, obviously, we currently have the force engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, which, for ground forces, that leaves -- doesn't leave as many available for security cooperation activities. When we come back to a more normalized operational tempo, then one would expect that you would have a commander focused on Africa and working within the system to get as many security cooperation exercises and activities with host nations.

Again, we're interested in partnering with them in building up their own indigenous capability. So in the areas -- especially in the areas of things like civil affairs but also in training in that, there might be an enhanced role, but that would be a number of years out.

AFRICOM right now, again, is an organizing principle with an organization, AFRICOM, associated with it to better use the resources we have over there and do a better job of coordinating with the rest of the government.

Q To follow up, if there aren't going to be more troops in Africa, there are not going to be more missions, and the missions that they do perform are going to be the same as they are now, how would you explain to U.S. troops what this means to them?

MR. HENRY: What AFRICOM means to U.S. troops? I think it's more important what AFRICOM means to the African countries and that. U.S. troops, well, we have currently four geographical commanders that are out, regional geographic commanders, not counting NORTHCOM. We're going to be going to five. And so it is a -- when they go to do exercises and that, it would be the same as going to SOUTHCOM or to PACOM. Now they'll be in AFRICOM, rather than an extension of EUCOM, CENTCOM or PACOM that it is now.

But to a specific U.S. soldier, you know, Seaman First Class Henry or whatever, you know, as far as where he's going, how he's doing, things he might actually end up doing it under the same fleet structure that he does it now. There might be a marginally increased opportunity to be doing activities cooperatively in that region, but I don't see a significant change for the average soldier, sailor or air men.

Yes, ma'am.

Q Could we switch you to talk a little bit about something specific in Africa, the spiraling violence in Somalia, the involvement of Ethiopia that threatens involvement or, I guess, the current involvement of Eritrea and how that can spill over. What are you guys thinking about that? What's the Defense Department's stance on this? And I know that you guys have been involved in something tactically that you won't talk about, but can you update us on where that stands, sir?

MR. HENRY: Well, actually, we're down here to obviously talk about AFRICOM and the longer-term future.

Q Right.

MR. HENRY: And we don't tend to comment on possible future operations. I would say both in -- as far as Ethiopia or Darfur goes, that we're looking for solutions, led by the State Department. And I'll let Linda comment, if she wants to, in anything on this. But the State Department has the lead in that; we are in the support role in trying to give them the capabilities they might need. To date, that has been in areas of advisory, and we don't see any need really to change that. We have lots of diplomatic options that are yet to be worked out.

Is there anything you want to add to that, Linda?

Yes, sir?

Q If this effort is meant to unify the entire continent under one command, then why not Egypt? Isn't Egypt the exception? Isn't --

MR. HENRY: Excuse me?

Q Isn't Egypt the exception? Isn't Egypt Central Command?

MR. HENRY: Currently, the -- there's -- it's envisioned it'll be 53 nations on the African continent, that Egypt would stay part of CENTCOM. The exact -- how that will play out -- those decisions are still under review, and we would take the opinions of the Egyptians into our calculations when we do that.

Q What's the thinking pro and con so far? Can you kind of relate the discussion to us as far as -- like what's --

MR. HENRY: Well, obviously Egypt is very involved in activities in the Middle East. It also has an Africa focus. It's a difficult choice to be able to make, and hopefully we would look at some sort of arrangement where Egypt would be consulted and work with both commands. The current thinking is that it would stay under the area of responsibility of Central Command.

There's a similar issue as you look at the Horn of Africa. I mean, a lot of the threats that the Horn of Africa looks at don't emanate from within the continent but from outside of the continent, in the CENTCOM area of responsibility. And so there would continue to need to be a rich dialogue and liaison between Central Command and those countries, and obviously the commander of AFRICOM.

I might note, though, that one thing that is interesting as we go forward to do AFRICOM is that the threats that those nations face are not state-based threats within Africa, but they tend to be transnational threats emanating from other sources or threats within individual countries that have to do with internal defense. And so that has a lot to do with the nature of what AFRICOM would be and why it would work more on the building partnership capability and would not necessarily get into the kinetic areas.

Q (Off mike) -- possibly remaining with Central Command?

MR. HENRY: No. The decision that's been made to date is, is that the only country in Africa that would not be part of AFRICOM would be Egypt. The rest --

Q (Off mike.)

MR. HENRY: Yes. Currently there is no effort to reevaluate that decision, and so one would expect that both with its initial capability and full operating capability, that that's what the arrangement of countries would be.

Yes, sir?

Q A couple of questions on timelines. When do you expect to make the decision on the location or locations of the headquarters? And when do you expect to make a decision on naming a commander? I imagine if you're involved in consultations at some point it may be easier for you, when you're dealing especially with different governments, to have someone who is, if you like, the face of AFRICOM, someone who will be that commander.

MR. HENRY: It currently is a sub-unified command. It operates under the commander of -- the European Commander, General John Craddock. And so he is the lead person for that.

There is an effort to try and have a commander designated prior to its standing up initial operating capability, which would be the end of the fiscal year. And so we would hope that a commander would be named, his name presented -- nominated by the president. And so we'll do it on the president's timeline but then present it to the Senate for confirmation. So that's what the hope is.

Q How soon are we looking at that happening, and how soon would you name a location for the headquarters?

MR. HENRY: Well, the deliberative process on choosing the commander is one that tends somewhat to be elastic, has been my personal experience, so it's really quite dangerous putting specific dates on it. I do think, though, that prior to the beginning of the next fiscal year. So prior to the beginning of October, we could expect to see that.

As far as the specific location, we're still in the fact-gathering mode. Once we've gone through that, then we'll be able to say what the considerations are and be able to start to put a timeline on that. And so there is not a specific date that I am aware of for making that announcement.

Yes, sir?

Q What's the approximate size of the headquarters staff you'd be looking at? I know it's still a work in progress, but approximately how many folks would be working --

MR. HENRY: Right That's an analysis that we are currently going through. It would probably -- and I don't have the specific numbers, but it's measured in the hundreds, as are all combatant commands. It would probably be on the lower end, numbers-wise, of a regional, unified command, and they usually vary plus or minus 200 between the two of them.

Q So approximately 200 people --

MR. HENRY: No, it would be -- the variance between commands tends to be about 200. They tend to be less than a thousand. So -- and the specific numbers, those are some details that are actually being worked out within the department right now.

Yes, sir.

Q I wonder if you could clarify a few terms that you used and points that you made. You said, it will be organizational not operational, but that it will coordinate forces in its area. So will it be a regional combatant command in the same sense that the others are? Or will it be something different?

And along with that, it will have a civilian deputy, you said. Will that person have operational control over military forces in the absence of the commander? Will that civilian be in the chain of command?

And you said it will take on the duties of a subunified command starting at the end of this fiscal year. What will it be able to do? What will its functions be, other than organizational, during that year as a subunified command?

And I also wanted to ask, you said, varying degrees of frankness you encountered on your trip. Can you give us a little more detail? Frankness usually means opposition or concern. So can you give us some more details?

MR. HENRY: Yeah, I'll try to remember all those. I wasn't writing them down, so let me know if I missed them. (Laughter.)

Q (Off mike.)

MR. HENRY: The first one is the nature of the command. It -- the role of the combatant commander is to organize and orchestrate operational forces to be able to complete a mission. We are looking at a different mission set for AFRICOM than the -- different for sure from Central Command, but the other regional commands right now. And when we refer to AFRICOM, we refer to it as a unified command. The specific titles in that are yet to be worked out.

Its principle mission will be in the area of security cooperation and building partnership capability. It will not be in warfighting. Again, if you look at the nature of the security challenge in Africa, it is not one of states fighting states. But it is one of states coming to grips with their own internal defense, or trying to collectively work against transnational threats. And so to the degree which we would be doing that, and the principal mission of AFRICOM, is to help the Africans to be able to meet those challenges themselves. So that's why the nuances in how we describe it.

Q But if there were U.S. military activity, it would come under AFRICOM, not somebody else, right?

MR. HENRY: Those are issues that are still being worked out, okay?

Q Oh, so it's likely that it will be under someone else.

MR. HENRY: Well, whenever we do an operation there is a supporting-supported relationship. And it -- normally what we do is have our functional combatant commanders support the regional unified commanders. But you could look at -- you could possibly look at other models to do that.

Again, we think the probability of combat operations is not what the command is focused on, and so the real work right now is going on to work at the principal mission focus areas.

Q And the civilian deputy?

MR. HENRY: The civilian deputy -- the civilian deputy would not -- if you did have kinetic operations going on, then that would only be done through the military chain of command. The civilian deputy would not be in the chain of command for those. But that doesn't mean that there's not a lot of activity that that deputy might not be in the chain of command for.

Those are issues -- and we're still working with lawyers in figuring out exactly how that would work out. I mentioned that there would be a civilian deputy -- I didn't use the word "the" civilian deputy. So, you know, one alternative is multiple deputies, one for the military chain of command, another one perhaps for the interagency chain of command. Those are all areas that we are still considering evaluating and determining how to go forward best.

Q And the functions of the subunified command during the coming year?

MR. HENRY: Yes, that will be up to General Craddock, who they will be subunified to. And as he feels comfortable working with both Pacific Command and Central Command in the AFRICOM-assuming missions, then they'll do that. And so those are decisions he's yet to make.

Q And the frankness question, if you could.

MR. HENRY: Well, the frankness just has to do with the fact -- I think there was a slightly different flavor, perhaps, between countries -- and we won't go into who was different. I think more of the difference in frankness had to do over the course of the conversation as we eliminated misperceptions. And lots of rumors out there on what the United States was doing and why it was doing it, and as we went from rumors to facts, then the nature of the conversation becomes much more cordial.

Yes, sir.

Q It appears you're going to be leaning heavily on other government agencies to fund -- or to, you know, resource and support this headquarters. Are you confident that the other government agencies, say State, USAID are going to be able to provide the personnel needed to man this headquarters? As you know, Secretary Gates has expressed frustration about the State Department not being able to provide people for Iraq. Going forward with this, once it becomes fully operational, do you think it's going to --

MR. HENRY: Yeah, well, first of all, I haven't -- I don't get to hear everything the secretary says, but I haven't heard him express frustration. My understanding is that he looks at this as a government effort and an effort that we're doing in Iraq --

Q I think he was talking about Iraq.

MR. HENRY: Yeah, but I'd still -- I haven't heard him express frustration. Perhaps you've heard a quote that I haven't, but I haven't heard that. It's challenging for all of us. It's challenging for the other parts of the interagency, and it's challenging for the Department of Defense. And AFRICOM will be no different. This is not something we're used to doing. We are not used to putting our civilian forces forward as part of a -- as a unified command, and so it'll be a lot of learning on all parts of the U.S. government. And hopefully, we'll be able to support each other, and we're looking at different ways that we can do that.

I'll start back over again. In the back.

Q Sir, you had mentioned the importance of maintaining a small footprint. Do you envision a role here for contractors as opposed to uniformed personnel, for instance, for things like training and internal defense?

MR. HENRY: Well, currently, contractors do do a lot of work in Africa, and to the degree which that would change is yet to be determined. I would say that in all probability there'll be some presence of contractors, but that the U.S. government and government employees will clearly be the ones there making the decisions. They'll be the ones that are out front. To the degree which they'll be supported by contractors, (what) we'll look at is who can do the job best and what's in the best interests of the U.S. government and what's in the best interests of the African nations.

So again, I think it'll be some sort of mix, and exactly what the proportion of that mix is, is we don't know yet.

Yes, sir.

Q Yes. Who did you meet with in Nigeria? And what assessment did you walk away with or what opinion do you have of the security situation there?

MR. HENRY: Well, again, we were in the countries only for a short time, and we met with different senior officials in all the countries, usually discussions with the country team. And in Nigeria, it was the chief of the defense staff that we met with. Obviously, they were in the middle of an election cycle, and so with an impending change of government and that, we met with the military people.

And I'll -- you know, I'll leave it to the State Department. I know they're doing briefings today on the situation in Nigeria and the elections, and I'll leave it to them to comment on it.

Yes, ma'am.

Q You've said one of the misperceptions you wanted to eliminate was that the U.S. government was going to bring additional resources into Africa. But how are you going to build the militaries for these countries if you don't bring additional resources? It seems like that's one of their problems.

MR. HENRY: Well, again, with the ACOTA program and a number of different programs, resources are going there now. AFRICOM would be the one that would take a lead from the Defense Department aspect of that. We think it'll allow us to do a job better. As the Africans see the stand-up of AFRICOM, they should not look at it as a here's another donor, here's another source of revenue; rather it is someone who's going to come and share their knowledge, know-how along a path that the Africans have chosen to help them to better be able to a job for themselves.

Q (Off mike) -- reallocate the existing resources, not providing any new equipment or technology --

MR. HENRY: Well, those are the things that we're doing now, and we would continue to do those.

Yes, sir?

Q By having a command focused solely on Africa, will this allow the U.S. to expand its security cooperations with new countries on the continent? And if so, which countries?

MR. HENRY: Well, we have a Security Cooperation Guidance that we work off now, where we prioritize which countries we need to work on, based upon the current situation. That's adaptive. It's something that's updated every six months, and we would continue to do that process.

So -- but right now that's done by three different commanders that look and set out the priorities for the continent. This -- for in the future, it'll be by the commander-AFRICOM that does that, and the continental perspective he has, versus the regional one that we currently employ.

Q And this raises the question: With the creation of AFRICOM, is it likely U.S. troops will go places on the continent they have not been in the past? If so, where?

MR. HENRY: I'm not sure AFRICOM will make the difference, but the passage of time will change different security situations. It'll change certain relationships with a country. I mean, everything evolves over time. AFRICOM will not freeze the evolution of America's relationship with the different militaries and different governments on the continent. It will continue to evolve. And so things will change in time. It's very, very risky, we think, predicting the future. We've had a little experience in trying to do that and find out it's better to think about the future as having operational uncertainty and us having forces and capabilities and a mind-set to be able adapt to that as it evolves.


Q So if I understand you right, this command is not going to be like the other commands at all, in the sense that it's mostly DOD personnel -- it's going to be mostly non-DOD personnel?

MR. HENRY: The exact ratios have not yet been determined. I would say that more than 50 percent of it would come from DOD. But still that's significantly different than other commands.

As far as -- it's usually just liaison officers that are from the interagency. And in AFRICOM, we'll actually look at the action officers. Those with portfolios in managing the command will be coming from the interagency.

Q It's not -- if there's a conflict on the African continent that the U.S. is involved with militarily, this command is not going to be the command that runs it, necessarily, bottom line?

MR. HENRY: Well, the purpose of the command is -- and this comes out of the QDR -- is what we refer to as anticipatory measures, and those are taking actions that will prevent problems from becoming crises, and crises from becoming conflicts. So the mission of the command is to be able to prevent that. The exact decision on the operational arrangements, should those efforts be unsuccessful, those decisions haven't been made.

Again, we're coming to you early in the process rather than coming to you when we think we have all the solutions; we're coming through and letting you know what some of the questions are that we're trying to address. They're the same ones that you're bringing up. And we're looking at a way to answer those.

AFRICOM will be different than we've done in the past. That's why we're doing the consultations here at the front end, again, to get the African leaders' inputs as we formulate how the best way is to go forward.

MR. WHITMAN: We have time for a couple more.

Q Why do this as a military command at all if you're not going to have an operational aspect to it? Everything that you described sounds like something within the purview of State Department in other countries. Why make it military?

MR. HENRY: Well, there will be military activity, there'll be exercises. Those are the things that are currently going on in other commands. I think if you look at what SOUTHCOM is doing right now in Latin America, that many of the mission sets appear quite similar. So it is -- I think it's clearly -- there's a mission for the military there. Sometimes, not very often, it is in the lead; normally it will be supporting other elements of the U.S. government. And this will be the first time that we put something forward in the region on an interagency basis to be able to do these sort of activities.

Admiral Stravidis down in SOUTHCOM is looking at different ways to evolve in this same direction. So we'll have one command that's going from a classic command trying to evolve. We have this other one that we're standing up from the ground up, trying to think about how we approach things interagency. But it's --

Q So SOUTHCOM is trying to go this way?

MR. HENRY: Well, it is moving in that direction. I think "trying to go that way" is probably a little strong. But it is moving in that direction. And it comes from an understanding in a post-9/11 world that you cannot solve problems in the world by stovepipes, with different parts of the U.S. government going after it, but there is a blending of capabilities across the U.S. government. And we are still working on how do we do that best. And we think that AFRICOM will be a critical experience in what works well.


Q Did you get a sense of issues, trends or problems that these six leaders from the six nations you visited? They had ideas that you hadn't thought of before in terms of trends, problems that they see that you might not have seen that may broaden this whole notion of stemming a problem before it becomes a crisis. I'm thinking water, AIDS -- water rights, AIDS, things that you --

MR. HENRY: Well, now, those are actually things that the U.S. government's given a lot of thought of. I wouldn't say that there was something particularly new. There was a confirmation. There was a confirmation that we have to be very sensitive to where we put the headquarters and what the headquarters looks like. That's one thing we walked away with. I think there was also a confirmation of the key role that the African Union plays and the regional economic communities, and that Africans have laid out a way ahead that not only improves governance, but also can help in the security domain, and that the African stand-by force will be a critical force for Africans to be able to solve their own problems.

And as we go to stand up AFRICOM, we want to think about what we can do to support them in those efforts.

Q A quick follow-up. A lot of people, civilians -- not military -- are going to ask themselves, if this command had been set up six or seven years ago or five years ago, how might it have prevented a Darfur situation? There's a genocide going on there, a civil war that's just crushed the country. Have you thought through this at all in terms of how it might have made a difference just conceptually?

MR. HENRY: Well, we've gone back and we've looked at a number of things. Liberia would be another one from a couple years back. And we think that, again, looking from an African perspective is helpful, working and -- it depends on, you know, when you would have started and what you could have done to build up the African capability. But we learned in -- we've learned, I would say, both in Somalia and Darfur and in Liberia and in other places that we've been involved in and seeing what happened over a decade ago in Central Africa, that Africans, having the indigenous capability to meet their own security needs and to be able to have a deployable force that they can move within the continent, which is African but not foreign, can make a big difference in stemming some of these problems.

MR. WHITMAN: We have time for one more, sir.

MR. HENRY: Yes, sir.

MR. WHITMAN: (Off mike) -- hasn't had one -- well, maybe just one question --

MR. HENRY: Just one -- (inaudible). (Laughter.)

Q You said that the misconceptions were mostly at the beginning of your discussions, so would you say that for these six countries, you now have their support in this effort or do you have more work to do in those countries? And are you planning to have similar meetings with other countries?

MR. HENRY: Well, we are planning to have a similar meeting with other countries. There are other trips that are scheduled. We don't think that we've met all the key leaderships, and we plan on going back, would like to go back to the African Union again, too, to consult with them again.

And the -- I think you asked basically, do we have buy-in? I think we have an understanding. We were not aware of any specific resistance to the idea. We do have a sensitivity, though, that AFRICOM will be better by having -- by conducting consultations such as this, getting the Africans' opinions, and obviously it'll be much more acceptable to the Africans if we do it that way. So that's another thing we got confirmed, that the approach we have, of rather than waiting till we have all the answers then going out and talking to people and tell them what our solutions is, is to approach them when we think we've started to develop the questions, make sure that we've got the right ones, and then not be afraid to go back to them to get their inputs.

Q Thank you.

MR. HENRY: Thank you for your time.


Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list