Special DoD Briefing with Gen. Ward and Admiral Ulrich from the Pentagon, Arlington, Va.
BRYAN WHITMAN (deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Public Affairs): Good morning and welcome. It's my privilege to introduce two briefers today: General William "Kip" Ward, who is the commanding general of U.S. Africa Command, and Admiral Harry Ulrich, who is the commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Europe. They're here today to talk to you about the African Partnership Station Initiative, which is to promote maritime security and safety. They both have some opening statements that they'd like to make, and then they're prepared to take your questions.
So with that, let me turn it over to the two of them. Thank you for being here today.
GEN. WARD: First, let me thank you for coming this morning to listen to Admiral Ulrich and I talk about the African Partnership Station. And I think it provides a good example of what the newly established U.S. Africa Command is about as it relates to helping out partner nations on the continent of Africa build their capacity to better govern their spaces, to have more effects in providing for the security of their people, as well as doing the things that are important in assuring the development of the continent in ways that promote increased globalization of their economies, as well as the development of their societies for the betterment of their people.
As was pointed out, very recently the staffing of U.S. Africa Command -- and as you know, the creation of the command designed to cause the work that's currently being done on the continent of Africa heretofore by three separate combatant commands -- U.S. Central Command, U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. European Command -- to be consolidated into the focus for one unified command; that is, U.S. Africa Command.
As we work over the course of the coming weeks and months to stand up the command, we're focused on building the team that will cause value added to be brought to the various programs that we do on the continent. We're working to cause the work that we in fact do currently to be reinforced by creating a greater synergy of the entirety of the work being done. And in that regard, the command is very uniquely envisioned to be an interagency model organization; a matrixed organization, so that functionalities that make a difference in getting things done are included; an interagency construct, also ensuring that we, as best we can, understand the work that's being done by humanitarian organizations, other partners that do work on the continent, and importantly, where private enterprise is involved, also understanding those efforts and their intent.
Again, we want to bring value added to the work that we currently we do so that we achieve effects in working with our African partners to do, as they said, to cause Africans to be in a better position to take care of themselves. And by being of an assistance of -- to them in this endeavor, we think that we have the best chance of doing work today that helps bring stability so that we are not in a position of having to do things 10, 20 years from now that are problematic for the continent and as well for our global society.
The program that Admiral Ulrich will talk to, the African Partnership Station, is a wonderful example of the sorts of things that AFRICOM will do throughout the continent, again, in conjunction with its partners on the continent, its international friends, but more importantly those things that Africans have come forward and say, "We would like you to help us increase our capacity to provide stability within our borders and within the region and on a continent as we can." And those things that are within our means to do, we will look forward to working with the African nations and providing them with that type of an assist.
So with that, I'll turn it over to Admiral Ulrich to provide you more detail on our African Partnership Station Initiative.
ADM. ULRICH: Thank you, Kip, for that introduction.
We advertised that we were to talk today about African Partnership, that we could operate off the west coast of Africa in the coming months to provide and build capacity for maritime safety and security; I think it's important that we start with, what is maritime safety and security?
It's kind of a new term that has come up in the last five to six years. It was generated by a sense that although we've been doing maritime safety and security for decades and generations, and indeed hundreds of years, we've kind of pulled it all together and looked at it in a different fashion. And it was driven, by, of course, the terrorist attacks, that have taken our transportation infrastructure and have turned that around against us, whether it be airplanes, trains, subways, buses, trucks, cars. It's just a matter of time before they use our maritime infrastructure against us as well.
So we took a long, hard look at this starting about, as I said, four or five years ago, and we've kind of brought this into a disciplined fashion. It was driven by Operation Active Endeavor, which is a NATO operation, the only Article 5 NATO operation that has ever been conducted, and is still being conducted. And we kind of took about -- a hard look at that after about two years of operation and checked its effectiveness.
Now, it turns out that I, in my NATO hat, I'm in charge of air safety and security for the southern part of Europe and indeed also responsible for maritime safety and security. And when I looked at the contrast there, it was striking. I knew where every aircraft was flying over Europe in three dimensions to about 50 feet, real time. I knew where it was, where it was going, where it came from and what it was carrying. We were tracking 7,000 of these airplanes every single day. And at the same time, in the maritime domain I could only look you in the eye and say that we were tracking less than a hundred ships or even knew where the hundred ships were, and clearly there was a lot more out there.
So we looked at how we did it in the air -- you know, with little, tiny airplanes moving very, very fast in three dimensions -- and why we couldn't do it in the maritime domain with really, really fat ships that move very slow in normally in two dimensions.
And so we've changed our whole way of looking at this, and we've had some great success in this whole new discipline of maritime safety and security.
And what we found was that it took different partners what I call different places and different faces, to put this all together. And in fact, right about that time, they came -- the United States came out with a new document called the Strategy for Maritime Safety. And I'm going to read some of the words from it, because it's just -- and it's in your packet -- just so striking. That says that why we need maritime safety and security -- it says that we need to protect against ocean-related terrorists; hostile, criminal and dangerous acts; that we need to do this with international cooperation, seek new partnerships, and so forth and so on. It's a great document. I really highly recommend you read it.
And then the maritime component of the national military strategy says we ought to foster trust and confidence, we ought to expand our maritime relationships. And then the United States Navy came out and said we need to build one force. We need partnership amongst joint interagency international organizations and NGOs.
And at the same time that was going on, the -- our African friends, the nations that have started getting together in several symposium and other different fora -- and they issued what is also is in your package, called the Benin communique, this time last year, where we said: We, the ministers attending the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Safety and Security Conference, agree to commit to address the following elements of maritime governance -- partnership, maritime domain awareness -- and agree to continue engagement with international maritime partners to improve our maritime safety and security.
So that's the background. Maritime safety and security is the common theme here. We did a lot of experiments, as I said, up in the Mediterranean. We had our African friends on the west coast ask for some help in developing their maritime safety and security. And so we in the last year did a lot of exploration and meetings and discussions on how we might do this. And we've sent some ships and airplanes down there to work with our folks there and our new partners there to try to understand where they were in their development and how we might help them.
And so we came to the conclusion that the way to do this is to use a delivery vehicle. We use a ship -- go figure -- as we talk about maritime safety and security. We went out to a lot of our European partners that had an interest off the west coast of Africa. Six of them agreed -- six different nations agreed that this was important and they would like to work with us.
We reached out to the other agencies and departments here, and our own government, the State Department, USAID, NOAA, Coast Guard, Homeland Security all wanted to work with us on this. And then we reached out to NGOs that had an interest in the maritime domain.
And so we brought that together, and the ship leaves -- sails from Norfolk tomorrow. We'll go to Spain to pick up all these riders, and then we'll travel a circuit down off the West Coast of Africa with training teams that will work as a group. So we've, if you would, convened a center of excellence. And we have a center of mass now on this ship that can help these nations seek what they want, which is maritime safety and security so that they can continue to develop ashore in all the activities that we support, other nations support. And so that's kind of the long and short of what maritime safety and security is, why we're going to the West Coast of Africa and why we decided to use a ship, called an Africa Partnership Station, to work this problem.
So subject to your questions, that's what I have on this. And again you have a package with some of the details. Do we have any questions?
Q (Off mike) -- tell us more about this particular program. Could you give us an idea of the scope of what's already being done, compared to before? Like in the last several years, you've increased your presence off of Africa from 5 ship days to 50 or whatever it is. You know, what's the presence now, and what are you doing --
ADM. ULRICH: Well, we pretty much have a continuous presence, defined as either a ship off the West Coast of Africa or some maritime patrol aircraft off the West Coast of Africa or training teams that are downrange in some of the West Coast. And we're there 360 days a year now.
Q (Off mike.)
ADM. ULRICH: It was. Before we went down there to what I call an episodic fashion, we would travel, you know, a one-time swing every year or two years, do some fort visits, which were more or less friendship visits and didn't have the added dimension of focusing on training and capacity building.
Q Yeah, my question had --
ADM. ULRICH: Yeah, we have numbers, and if you -- we'll get you some statistics on that.
Q (Off mike) -- training, mapping, dredging -- what are the --
ADM. ULRICH: All of the above. We do all that, quite frankly. It depends on the country. The way we approach this is we go to the -- our country team, the ambassador, who in turn works with the right ministers in whatever country this is -- and we kind of talk to them about where they are in maritime safety and security, what they need.
And we break maritime safety and security down into four elements: Maritime domain awareness -- can you see what's out there; maritime professionals -- do you have the people to support your maritime industry and safety and security; do you have the infrastructure; and finally, do you have the ability to intervene where intervention would be necessary. And we kind of work in those lanes with the country and then put together a training and development program.
Q (Off mike) -- needs are varied. Is there a way to say overall what the effect of this great increase in presence has been?
ADM. ULRICH: We do. We have measures of effectiveness that we're working. We can also show those with you; it's not in your package. And we have a special team that looks at that to make sure that what we're trying to create is in fact being created. So we're checking ourselves to make sure the activities that we generate are useful.
Q Yeah, and my question is about the cooperation of the African countries. Can you say all the 53 countries are cooperating now with the African Command, who is cooperating, who is not? And I would like to know from you, what's the status of the joint task force in Djibouti -- still under the Central Command responsibility or now is the -- this command is cooperating with the African Command?
GEN. WARD: Let me -- you'll recall in my opening statement, I talked to the fact that the things that we do in Africa, be they maritime-related or other aspects, are done based on the dialogue that we have with our country teams there as well as what the nations, the African nations, so that the work that we do is work that, one, the African nations have come forward and asked for our assistance, and, two, work that the country team, led by the ambassador, says are efforts that contribute to our overall policy effectiveness as well.
Where those lines meet, we then within our means move forward to take the actions that we can in support of that.
Is it all 53 nations? No. It depends upon our relationships, our policy directions, et cetera, et cetera. Currently the JTF Horn of Africa, currently as a part of the CENTCOM's area of responsibility, is still there. As the stand-up of Africa Command progresses along, these activities that currently go on on the continent will be taken over by the Africa Command structure as capability to assume those responsibilities is in fact presented. And so, currently the JTF Horn of Africa is still within the Central Command's area of responsibility, and we would look to transition those activities over the course of the coming months as the Africa Command stands up and capable of assuming those command and control responsibilities.
Q Just to follow up, as we know, the French government has a military presence in the west side of Africa, like in Ivory Coast or Senegal. Do you have any cooperation -- are you cooperating with the French government regarding their presence? Anything you can say about this?
GEN. WARD: We do work with the French. We are aware of where the French have their activity. We consult with the French. The French work with us, not just in the west, also in the central part of Africa. And the intent of the command is to, in fact, work with our international friends as well, so that the work that we do is supportive of those efforts and, quite frankly, are efforts that the receiving African state and nation is able to accept in a way that causes them to have an improved capacity as well. But we do consult with the French as well as other international friends who work on the continent.
Q General, why do you think there's been opposition in Africa to the establishment of the U.S. Africa Command?
GEN. WARD: I don't know if I would call it opposition. I think there would be -- what we have is lack of clarity of purpose for the command. And I think the thing that we have now is an opportunity to present the work of the command, indeed not to embark upon a course that's different than what we do today, but to cause there to be greater understanding that what we do today is no different from what we are currently doing on the continent. I mean, we are operating there today -- U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command, and to a degree the Pacific Command. And those activities that we're conducting will be done in a more cohesive way, a better coordinated fashion in conjunction with our partners such that the effects, as the admiral pointed out, that we can achieve can be more in tune to, one, the desires of our African partners as well as our own results that we would look to see from the work that we do on the continent.
Q Admiral, regarding the USS Fort McHenry's upcoming deployment, can you give us a better idea of what the sailors and personnel aboard will be doing and how that will advance AFRICOM's overall goals?
ADM. ULRICH: Well, we had sort of a -- first of all, there's the -- the crew of the USS Fort McHenry, and then what we're going to do is embark 80 to a hundred additional folks onto the Fort McHenry. Those 80 to a hundred additional folks will be civilians and military, U.S. and other European and African nations' military folks that are put together with NGOs and other agencies of the U.S. government to form training teams that will work to improve those four pillars I described -- maritime domain awareness, maritime professionals, maritime infrastructure and maritime enforcement -- to work with different countries to create a system of systems that they would have and knowledge, skills and abilities that they would have to patrol and maintain their own economic -- exclusive economic zones in the sense of maritime safety and security.
Q Well, can you give some examples of concrete missions they'll be doing -- for example, teaching African nations how to avoid -- how to stop illegal fishing --
ADM. ULRICH: Yes, yes, exactly right. So we have -- NOAA will be part of it; we have an NGO that will be part of it that will be teaching these folks and instructing these folks on best practices used throughout the world to stop illegal, unregulated fishing, which, as you probably know, is a billion-dollar industry off the west coast of Africa. So we're talking significant, significant economic impact there.
Q A question for General Ward. As you know, many of the reporters who have written about Africa have been focusing quite a bit on the Chinese -- the increasing Chinese presence, particularly in the areas in the natural resource exploitation. As you stand up Africa Command, have you had any sort of bilateral, you know, pol-mil discussions with the Chinese, either you or some of you subordinates, to sort of just -- as both countries sort of move into the continent on an increasing basis, just to make sure that as the two groups rub shoulders, there's not any confusion or misunderstanding as to why the two countries are there?
GEN. WARD: I have not.
Q Is that something you plan to do down the future, as your presence and the Chinese presence increases there?
GEN. WARD: I think the work that the Chinese are doing on the continent in their national interest, as the work of other nations who are involved, is work that we would certainly want to understand. Because again as I said, our intent is to do no harm to the development and growth of these African countries, and to work in conjunction with their requests to us to do things. So understanding what's been going on in these countries is clearly important to us, to have that level of awareness.
However for our particular effort, we will do those things that would cause the capacity of African states to have increased ability to one, control their borders, to have control over their ability to govern for their people, and from the security aspect, and to then be able to cause that stability to lead to further development within their countries as well as across the region, and indeed export it across the continent. We would want to understand the work of others, again not that we compete with that, but to cause our efforts to be as effective as they can be as we move forward in pursuit of our common objectives with our African partners.
ADM. ULRICH: If I could follow on in that, in this African Partnership Station that we're talking about, one of the things that is a hallmark of this is that it's totally open and transparent, completely. And so one of the techniques that we use is that when we're down doing our planning in these various countries, the 11 we're going to visit, is that we encourage other defense attaches that are stationed in the capital, to include the Chinese, whoever else, to come down and get a brief on this so that they can clearly understand what we're doing, why we're doing it and when we're doing it. And in fact, we always invite them to participate if they so desire. The more partners we have, the better. Open-end transparency is the only way that we operate.
Q General Ward, I wanted to go back to the issue of the reception you're getting in Africa to the establishment of Africa Command. Certainly many African governments have expressed their skepticism and their concern that this is simply stepping up the U.S. military presence in that -- on that continent.
Aside from the bureaucracy that they may or may not understand, the command and why it's there, what are -- how do you address this, how do you react to this issue that these governments are very leery of you?
GEN. WARD: Well, I think, first, once the command begins to operate, they will see that this hype of establishing large bases is just out of reality, and so there will be a certain aspect of once we begin to operate and what we do as a command -- i.e. those things being very similar to what we currently do but more effectively, with a rotation of forces in and out who provide for increased assistance as is required, but not the staffing of large bases with troop stations. That's not the case. There will be a headquarters present at some point in time down the road, still undetermined, but the notion -- we will continue to talk about that, to explain what it is as opposed to what it is not.
I think at this point in time what we have had is a lot of debate about it, and until the Senate has confirmed its commander, that debate is coming from a lot of different places. Now there's one voice speaking for what the command is and what is not -- that's my voice, and as I go around talking to leaders of the various countries, explaining the intent and purpose that the command has for its mission. I think it will become much clearer as to what the command is set to do, and as importantly, the way in which it will do that work. And that is not through the staffing of large bases.
Q Yeah, can I just follow up and ask you then -- certainly there has been plenty of evidence over the years, even recently, of potential al Qaeda presence in Africa, especially in Somalia, and you also -- even though you're not quite in the Horn yet -- and also the situation in Darfur overhangs the continent to some extent. How do you establish -- what will be your role in counterterrorism, anti- terrorism, since JTFO already takes that on? Will you -- are you telling these governments that you will chase down al Qaeda when and where you find them? And can you really have credibility in Africa if you don't have policy direction regarding Darfur?
GEN. WARD: The work that we can -- that we will do as the U.S. Africa Command will clearly be based on the policy direction that our nation puts forward for those various activities. At this point in time, you know, I have not been involved in Somalia, in Darfur in any direct way.
We have been involved in the Darfur peace -- even as European Command, as we provided some assist to the enabled -- to enable the African nations who have gotten involved. We've provided some training assistance, some equipping assistance to the nations who have gone into Somalia to try to help with that situation there. And to the degree that we then do have policy that says these are the things that we will engage in, then the command will certainly get involved in following through in the military aspects of that.
There are nations on the continent that have interest in terrorism as well, in counterterrorism. To the degree that we are asked to assist them in doing that work, we will do so. I can't describe how that will be at this point in time, but to the degree that we are asked to cooperate with them in their counterterrorism programs, it's clearly, I think, likely that we would do those things within the policy lines that we've been given by our government administration.
Q Sir, have you had any discussions with Libyan leaders about possibly basing the headquarters in Libya? Do you think that that would be appropriate given the new relationship that's evolving with Libya? Have you -- are you planning any trips there, or have you been there to discuss this?
GEN. WARD: We have not had any -- yeah -- we have not had any -- I have not had any discussions with the Libyans about basing any headquarters. There have been -- there has been contact with the Libyans, not about that but about other military-to-military engagement activities, given the emerging relationships that we have. How that will evolve in the future, I do not know. Again, as I said, I have not entered into any discussions about a basing -- correction, a headquarters location on the continent.
That's work that's down the road, and quite frankly, it's not work that at this current is central to our efforts of increasing the value of the work that we are already doing on the continent. And that's where the focus of our effort will be initially, because this command brings -- to be seen as bringing value added to our ability to increase the capacity or help increase the capacity of African nations as they've requested us to do.
GEN. WARD: Please.
Q Thank you. Following up on Peter's question about China, are the Chinese doing anything in Africa that in any way interfere with your efforts, with AFRICOM efforts or with the U.S. military's efforts on the continent?
GEN. WARD: As I'm aware, the Chinese are involved. They're involved obviously in some developmental efforts. They have some military involvement, engineering efforts, some logistics sorts of things. None of that, I'm -- as I understand it, affects what we want to do, as compared to what we've been doing and what we see as the future. None of that has a bearing.
Q So you have no concerns about Chinese activities on the continent in terms of --
GEN. WARD: Well, nothing that the Chinese are doing right now, from my perspective, impacts what we want to do at the command and helping us to work with the Africans.
Q General, how important is it to put the headquarters on the continent at some point? And can you give us any insight into the progress or difficulties along that line, what sort of time frame in general you're looking at?
GEN. WARD: When it's determined that having the headquarters element stationed on the continent continues to help us with the programs, then we will continue to move forward to do that. That is a work in progress. The discussion with our African partners, obviously, from our U.S. interest and how important it is -- that is a work in progress to go that additional step as we look at, one, where our headquarters might be; two, what its composition might be on the continent; three, how it is operating on the continent to cause the variances that exist on the continent -- you know, North Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, South Africa -- and how we can more effectively work our program.
And so as we continue to move forward and assess the implications of a headquarters stationing conflict on the continent, we'll make that determination. Again, many times you can't predetermine that. It's a result of the effort and the work that we do. And right now the important thing is not so much that but to cause the work that we want to do to be seen as value added to bringing capacity and increased capacity to the African nations.
Q But it sounds like you're putting the headquarters issue on the backburner, which sounds to me like a change from what we were hearing several months ago, which was that there was hope that the headquarters would be on the continent by next October 1st, when the command fully stands up.
GEN. WARD: I think that's partly a result of the fact that there were so many centers talking about it. I think what was said by the president was that the -- he wanted the headquarters to be achieved at full operational capability October of '08. That could include some headquarters presence on the continent; that was not defined. And I think -- so what we will do is work through that process, as we take these coming months to determine what it needs to be, so that value added is brought to our program.
And right now I'm not saying it's on the backburner; that's not the case, because we're working these issues as we move forward. That's all part of this assessment of this interim operational capability, this interim period. As we move forward, we'll be making those determinations.
Clearly work needs to be done to get there, I mean, from the standpoint of nations being invited or inviting us, how we work with nations, assessing the receptivity, et cetera, et cetera. So those are things that happen as a part of what we do, and we just won't make decisions till we have a good understanding, good clarity into some of those perspectives.
Q So you don't expect it by next October 1st?
GEN. WARD: Expect what? Let me -- that is the undefined --
Q (Off mike) -- your headquarters on the continent.
GEN. WARD: Well, again, what that headquarters is is still the undefined piece, and so I can't answer that question just yet.
Q General, what do you see as the major milestones that need -- you need to achieve to become fully operational?
GEN. WARD: Well, we've got the build the team. I mean, this is a brand-new headquarters. It doesn't -- to build a staff, a team, get that team integrated, stood up, get personnel involved in the construct -- right now, we're still amassing that, the whole processes.
Again, we -- as I said, we don't want to disrupt what we're already doing. And some good things are happening on the continent, so we must build that team, and build that team such that it has the ability to in fact bring value added by coalescing many different actors who are already operating on the continent, to bring them together in an effective way, and that's the predominant work that we will do.
Then as that goes on, the program, such as Admiral Ulrich here just laid out for the Africa Partnership Station -- bringing those programs so that the question that was raised earlier about, you know, Africans -- our international partners see that what we're doing is in fact bringing value added. And that's happening, not just in the Gulf of Guinea but also in North Africa, in Central Africa.
And so -- and that's the work that we will be doing, and to bring full operational capability to reality, building that team with the ability to bring these various players and actors who have interest on the continent together in ways so that one, we're not doing their work, but that the efforts under the U.S. Department of Defense is more supportive of and complementary to those efforts, all under the umbrella of, you know, our overarching policy that we follow.
Q (Off mike) -- question about -- (off mike) -- about blue- water assets. Given that what's in Africa -- there's such activity on the brown-water with the U.S. -- with the Navy standing up its riverine force -- do you foresee, in the future, joint activities with African nations in that part of the world to build up their riverine forces, particularly in Nigeria, where we've seen all that activity by pirates on the seas?
ADM. ULRICH: Well, I'm not going to talk about individual countries, because we quite frankly haven't been asked by those countries to help them. Having said that, they are keenly aware that we're developing a, what you refer to as a brown-water capability. But I could also tell you that we have European partners who do now have a brown-water capability. And if asked, we would talk -- turn to our European partners and see if they'd be interested in providing that.
So your question is, do you see it happening in the future? I would guess so. Next part of the question -- would the U.S. provide that? I would say that possibly, but we would again turn to our European partners and see if they would like to participate first.
Q Are you reluctant to provide U.S. assets for something like that?
ADM. ULRICH: No, no.
Again, we haven't been asked. But if we were asked, I would work very, very hard to comply with their request. Whether I used the U.S. or the European countries to provide that, we'd take on a case-by-case basis. But I don't want to leave you with the impression that we're reluctant to do that. We would try to find the best fit.
Q I wonder if you could speak just a little bit to the strategic importance of the Gulf of Guinea. You mentioned fish. We obviously get about a quarter of our oil from the Gulf of Guinea now. I think it's more than from the Middle East. How important is that aspect to the desire to build up the U.S. presence there?
ADM. ULRICH: Well, first of all, we're starting in the Gulf of Guinea for one significant reason: because they asked us to. They're the ones that, you know, put the request out. So that's why we're there.
Now, it is true that in that area, it's a -- there's a lot of ungoverned space. You mentioned illegal fishing. There's illegal immigration. There's drug trafficking. There's all sort of bad activities going there, including illegal oil bunkering. But that doesn't affect, as I see it, the delivery of oil to our country or to any other country. That's still happening. The overheard we're paying for it is higher. We wish that wasn't the case. The countries that export oil wish that wasn't the case. The statistics I've seen are $3 million a day of illegal oil bunkering, which adds to the price of gas at the pump.
But that's, again, their problem, happening in their territorial waters, and they must have the capability and capacity to deal with it. It's not something that we, the United States, or any other navy can do. So the idea is, they're aware of it. They're trying to work the problem, and then to the degree they come to us and ask for our advice, assistance, we'd respond. But that part of it hasn't happened yet.
Q Admiral, just a quick clarification. On the Navy website, where it describes the type of ship that the Fort McHenry is, it says that allows it to put personnel on hostile shores. Are you anticipating a hostile reception? (Laughter.)
ADM. ULRICH: No, no, all gray ships are built to go into harm's way and fight. They all are, or we wouldn't build them.
This ship is unique in that it has -- the reason we picked this ship -- it has a shallow draft; it is big and fat and carries lots and lots of people and equipment and has lots and lots of spaces that replicate classrooms. That's the only reason we selected this.
MR. WHITMAN: Perhaps we can take one more.
Q Admiral, your release says the McHenry is on for a seven- month deployment. So is this some experiment, or do you expect it to be continuing?
And it also mentions that the swift is along -- the swift is in high demand. It will -- and are you -- what's the role of the swift in this?
ADM. ULRICH: Well, I guess the question was, is this an experiment? The answer to that is yes.
The other question you asked is, are we going to continue doing this? And the answer to that question is yes.
So we're experimenting with this concept of a float -- a positioning ship, Fort McHenry. As you know, there's the -- and there is great distances in Africa, huge distance. And so having one ship there and then having the swift, which, as you know, as you know, is the high-speed vessel that runs back and forth, to try to close the time required in those distances to deliver students, to deliver training teams back and forth, is the concept that we've developed.
Whether the next generation of this would be exactly that, I'd be presupposing the outcome of the experiment. But there is commitment, I can tell you, from the United States Navy and, I think, from AFRICOM to continue doing this and expand it even, so we go beyond the Gulf of Guinea.
MR. WHITMAN: Thank you very much.
Q Thank you.
ADM. ULRICH: Thank you, folks.
GEN. WARD: Thanks a lot.
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