Pace: Military, Other Agencies to Forge New Relationships in Africa
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
SYDNEY, Australia, Feb. 11, 2007 Africa Command, which President Bush announced Feb. 6, may be a chance for the military and other U.S. agencies to forge new command and working relationships, the top U.S. general said.
Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke about a new role and direction for combatant commands and the need for all aspects of government power to work together during a town hall meeting in Hawaii on Feb. 9. He expounded on that theme during an interview here today. The chairman is visiting Australia and Indonesia this week.
U.S. Pacific Command is responsible for operations in an area that covers 51 percent of the Earth’s surface. Right now it stretches from the Pacific coastline of the United States to the waters off the east coast of South Africa. With the formation of U.S. Africa Command announced, Pacific Command likely will lose some of its territory.
The United States has to be ready for the entire gamut of combat operations in that area. PACOM officials said there is the full-up threat of major conflict with North Korea and there are smaller areas of concern that need peacemaking capabilities. There are also just poor countries that want to walk down the road to democracy, but lack the experience or economic means to do so, PACOM officials said.
That is the largest part of the mission. To help these nations, the command works with them to build their capabilities to effectively govern.
Ungoverned areas have certain things in common. Governments’ ability to enforce the rule of law in the region is limited or non-existent. Courts are often under attack. Government workers, including military leaders, are often bribed to look the other way when clandestine cargo -- everything from money or drugs to people -- crosses near them.
“It doesn’t make any difference to the smuggler what it is he is transporting,” a PACOM official said.
The ungoverned areas are poor, often sparsely populated or tougher to get to, and the populations in the areas are generally young and unemployed. “How can you help the countries govern these areas?” the official asked, pointing out that the military won’t always have the lead in missions like this.
Africa Command will have some of the same problems. “Africa is the king of ungoverned areas,” the official said. “Even highly functioning countries like Kenya and South Africa have some areas that are ungoverned.”
Pace said that Africa Command would not be a cookie cutter copy of any other combatant command and that it will be built from the ground up. “What we don’t need to do is create another combatant command like every other one,” the general said during an interview here. “It’s not bad, but it’s not good enough.”
From the start, the new command will be designed to incorporate the contributions that interagency partners make to a counterterrorism fight. Africa Command will have to be more than just DoD personnel, he said. “There has to be space for State, Treasury, FBI and everybody else who, in the other commands, are liaison officers,” Pace said.
These personnel would be an integral part of the command, Pace said. They would have the authority from their agencies to commit resources and would, at times, be in charge. “So if the issue is something that State has the lead on, … the State guy chairs the meeting that day to take care of whatever issue that is. And if it’s Treasury the next day, then Treasury chairs the meeting.”
The leader is “whoever has been given the responsibility in Washington to make whatever it is happen,” the general said.
This would work because the agencies work together every day. “They pull on the oars together,” Pace said.
As Africa Command stands up, a lot of learning will be going on. “As we go through this, I’m sure we’ll find laws and rules and regulations that will have to be changed to be more effective and efficient,” he said. “But that’s how you learn. You go out and start trying things. You find something you think needs to be changed and make a recommendation back to Washington. And if folks believe it should happen, it happens.
“But we’re not going to know what’s possible until we give ourselves the opportunity to experiment and empower those in the field,” Pace added.
In Africa, the last thing the United States would want to do is commit troops. “What you are trying to do is help countries in that region help themselves,” he said. “That really puts the DoD guys in support of other agencies. And if we have that dialogue up front, as we are with the interagency partners, we might be able to create something from whole cloth that will be a leap forward in the way that we do our interagency work outside the United States.”