AFRICOM: Gen. Ham Assumes Command

Posted on | maart 11, 2011 | No Comments

Gen. Carter F. Ham

Gen. Carter F. Ham assumed command of U.S. Africa Command Wednesday in Stuttgart, Germany, during a ceremony attended by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Ham takes over from Gen. William “Kip” Ward who has been at the helm of AFRICOM since its inception in 2007.

A mustang who climbed through the ranks as an enlisted infantryman in the 82ndairborne before being commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in 1976, Ham is one of the most distinguished brass in the U.S. military today. He commanded the 1st Infantry Devision (1st ID) in Iraq and was one of the first commanding generals to seriously address post traumatic stress syndrome, having suffered through it as a result of a suicide bombing of a mess hall at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Marez in Mosul, Iraq in December 2004. Twenty-two soldiers, sailors, and civilians under his command died. Ham comes to AFRICOM from U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army where he was the Commanding General. Prior to that he was Director of Operations (J-3) at the Joint Staff.

Gen. Ham takes on AFRICOM at a rather inauspicious time. African countries, especially those where AFRICOM is engaged in direct military operations, are straining under a global economic crises and unabated political upheaval. In Ivory Coast lassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo are tearing the country apart in their political tug of war; an armed conflict is ongoing between Qaddafi and the opposition in Libya where if a NATO/U.S. led military intervention is executed, AFRICOM will be the command and control (C2) platform to enforce a no-fly zone; Tunisia’s transition to democracy is protracted and its stability delicate; Algerian protesters demanding the removal of President BoutefliKa are frequently confronted to riot police; Morocco, where the wave of discontent is swelling and its manifestation is being externalized, is embroiled in reforms to preempt anti-government demonstrations of the same magnitude as Tunisia and Egypt’s; Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Mali are all torn by civil war and lawlessness. The drastic change in the priorities of AFRICOM’s dictatorial partner in sub-saharan countries and North Africa seems to have put the U.S. war on terrorism in the continent on hold. Furthermore, African governments are scrutinizing the evolving strategy of the U.S. in response to the mounting pressure of the Arab street against despotic rulers. Its endorsements of the removal of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Hussni Mubarak, and now Qaddafi are sending shudders through Africa’s political spheres.

AFRICOM’s mission has been undermined by deep skepticism from both civil entities and political leaderships. It has been accused of having ulterior exploitative economic and political motives. Some of its critics refer to it as a militarized foreign policy that brings back the specter of colonization. Such speculations are given credence by
Congressman William Jefferson who said: “African oil should be treated as a priority for U.S. national security post 9-11. I think that…post 9-11 it’s occurred to all of us that our traditional sources of oil are not as secure as we thought they were.” Rick Rozoff in an article entitled “Militarization Of Energy Policy: U.S. Africa Command And Gulf Of Guinea” states:

a US diplomat who states: “Washington’s energy strategy in regards to West Africa is a reflection of its international policy of not only gaining access to but control over hydrocarbon supplies and delivery to other nations, in particular to those countries importing the largest amount of oil and natural gas next the US itself: China, India, Japan, South Korea and the EU.

Gen. Ham’s greatest challenge, in addition to finding a home to AFRICOM’s headquarters, will be to rectify that misconception and convey the command’s vision as primarily developmental and beneficial to the African people. Now, that’s a tall order.

AUTHOR: Ahmed T. B. / Cabalamuse
URL: http://cabalamuse.wordpress.com/
E-MAIL: cabalafuse [at] hotmail.com

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