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Bono, Gates Discuss Africa During Singer’s Pentagon Visit

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2008 – In the Pentagon, “U2” usually refers to an Air Force high-altitude spy plane, but this week it referred to the rock group, as lead singer Bono met with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Jan. 22. (Video)

“It's a matter of age that I thought U2 was an airplane,” Gates told a Pentagon news conference today.

For years, the Irish rocker has championed relief to Africa, the world’s poorest continent. Bono took advantage of a trip to Washington to meet with Gates.

The secretary said today that he was very impressed with Bono and his knowledge of the situation in Africa.

The singer had read a speech Gates delivered at Kansas State University in November “and had liked a lot what I said about also strengthening the non-military side of the U.S. face abroad,” Gates said.

During that speech, Gates said that one of the most important lessons from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is that military success is not sufficient to win the war on terror. A soft-power approach -- using all aspects of government -- is needed. This include economic development, nation-building, establishing the rule of law, promoting internal reconciliation, good governance, providing basic services, training and equipping indigenous military and police forces, and strategic communications.

The secretary spoke with Bono about establishing U.S. Africa Command. “He did share some of the concerns that he has heard,” Gates said. “We gave him some information on AFRICOM, and he was not … hostile to it. I would say that he was open-minded about it and just recommended that we take care in how we proceeded.”

The meeting went for about 20 minutes, Pentagon officials said. The singer was not wearing his trademark sun glasses, according to Pentagon employees who saw the singer arrive.

Gates said the singer seemed very well informed.

The secretary also said his daughter “nearly had an aneurysm when I told her who I was meeting with.”

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