EUCOM Supports Efforts to Promote Democracy, Economic Stability
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 26, 2006 The 91 countries in U.S European Command's area of responsibility represent a vast breadth of culture and geography, yet the command's mission is the same throughout: supporting the Long War and creating conditions hospitable to democracy and stability.
Though no combat zones are within European Command's boundaries, the command is doing its part in supporting the global war on terrorism, new EUCOM deputy commander Army Gen. William E. "Kip" Ward said in an interview yesterday.
"Assigned forces of the United States European Command are involved globally in prosecuting this long war. Our forces are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and also in Africa," Ward said. "The assigned forces of U.S. European Command are just as heavily committed to these global operations as are forces stationed anywhere else."
Perhaps more importantly than providing forces to the fight, EUCOM is working within its area of responsibility to prevent future such conflicts by supporting efforts to improve economic conditions and foster democracy.
Such so-called "shaping operations" or "phase zero operations" are going on throughout Africa and in former communist nations in Eastern Europe.
"In each of those locations, we are working with the nations within the region to ensure that information is available so that they can do their part in helping to prosecute this long war, as well as doing things on the ground with the armies, navies, air forces, marine forces of other countries to help them become better capable to do what they want to do, which is to bring stability to their regions," Ward said.
Operations such as the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative -- formerly Pan-Sahel Initiative -- are designed to assist countries in "doing things to combat terror and to create conditions that are inhospitable to the movement of the enemy into those areas," Ward said.
Often military forces serve in supporting roles to other agencies and organizations of the U.S. government, such as the State and Treasury departments and U.S. Agency for International Development; nongovernmental groups, such as the World Bank; and international bodies, including NATO, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States.
"Obviously the diplomatic dialogue that is going on among many of the nations to help reduce the problems that exist between the nations, we are involved in bolstering and reinforcing those efforts," Ward said.
"So while we may not be the lead actor in some of those activities, we certainly are supporting in those diplomatic endeavors," he noted. "Clearly the economic vibrancy of the nations of that region is very important to our nation, and so, likewise, we are involved in supporting roles helping to reinforce some of those initiatives."
U.S. defense and national leaders have said repeatedly that all elements of national power will need to be applied to win the war on terrorism, and Ward backed this belief up.
"It's important that we all work as seamlessly as we can in a collaborative way to ensure that our efforts are producing the desired outcomes that we all would seek, as well as would be sought by the nations in the region," he said.
Theater security cooperation programs also help other countries in EUCOM's area learn how to cooperate similarly with other institutions of their own governments and countries. "That only happens if they're integrated in good ways, and our security cooperation program is designed to do that," Ward said. "It's prioritized so that we can do it in areas that we think we can make the most difference in now and out into the future."
Ward recently concluded a stint in Israel as the U.S. security coordinator for the Palestinian Authority. He said his experiences there reinforced something he learned throughout his career, including an earlier tour as commander of the NATO Stabilization Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina: "The basic needs, desires and aspirations of ... people are pretty, pretty common."
"They want stability in their lives. They want good governments. They want the ability to make a living," he said.
The general said the men and women of U.S. European Command live and believe in the command's motto: "Securing the Future."
"We're doing things today to ensure that the future for tomorrow for both our nation, as well as the nations of the region, are taken great care of," he said.