The U. S. military operation in Africa was previously divided among three unified commands. On February 6, 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that President George W. Bush had given authority to create a new United Command—the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM)--for the second largest continent in the world after Asia. The size of this command is geographically three times that of the U.S. and has four times more population.
AFRICOM is responsible for maintaining military to military relations with 53 of the 54 African nations with the exception being Egypt, which is overseen by Central Command. AFRICOM closely coordinates its initiatives with the U.S. Department of State and the USAID, thereby drawing upon knowledge of African politics, culture, and strategic partnerships. At an Africa Summit for Peace, Security and Sustainable Development in 2018, numerous speakers addressed the following challenges facing the continent: “Poor governance and corruption were at the top of the list, followed by poverty, terrorism, drug and human trafficking, cybercrime, environmental issues, and unemployment.” Together, the challenges create a situation ripe for terrorism threats by al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab, the Islamic State, Boko Haram and other violent extremist organizations.
As recently reported by the N.Y. Times, about 6,000 U.S. troops and 1,000 Defense Department civilians or contractors work across Africa mainly training and conducting exercises with local forces to foster peace and security. China and Russia are both striving to gain “soft power” in Africa with the goal of strengthening their role in international organizations. China also seeks to obtain natural resources such as oil and rare earth metals. As part of its Belt and Road initiative, China is making significant infrastructure investments in Africa. With Western sanctions after its invasion of Crimea, Russia seeks trading partners in Africa. In terms of military influence, Russia is a major supplier of arms to Africa and has significant boots on the ground.
Our speaker for the September meeting in this 68th year of CCFR is eminently qualified to discuss AFRICOM and its role in assisting Africa with its many challenges. General Carter F. Ham served from March 8, 2011 until April 5, 2013 as the second commander of AFRICOM, where he led all U.S. military activities on the African continent ranging from combat operations in Libya to hostage rescue operations in Somalia. He also was responsible for training and security assistance activities across the complex and diverse African nations.
General Ham is a member of a very small group of Army leaders who have risen from private to four-star general. He served as an enlisted infantryman before attending John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio where he was a distinguished military graduate in 1976. He later received a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. His U.S. Army service has taken him to Italy, Germany, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Macedonia, Qatar, Iraq, and uniquely among Army leaders, to over 40 African countries in addition to a number of diverse assignments within the U.S. His first four-star command was as commanding general, U.S. Army Europe.
After nearly 38 years of service, General Ham retired in June, 2013. Immediately prior to joining the staff of the Association of the U. S. Army (AUSA), he served as the chairman of an eight-member panel on the National Commission on the Future of the Army. In his current position as President and CEO of AUSA, General Ham leads this nonprofit organization which is the premier voice for American’s Soldiers.
6:00 Cocktails 6:45 Dinner 7:45 Address and Discussion