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Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who is traveling overseas on a 13 day trip, attended a ceremony today, honoring Army General William E. Ward, the first Commander of Africom (United States African Command), since it was established three years ago.

Africom is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany.

It was established October 1, 2008. Africom oversees operational oversight of U.S. humanitarian assistance and counterterrorism efforts throughout all of Africa, which also includes over 50 nations and exceeds one billion people.

William E. Ward joined the military in June 1971, as an infantry officer. He was 22 years old.

Today, General Ward transferred the baton of Command at Africom to Army General Carter F. Ham. In turning over the reins to General Ham, General Ward spoke briefly, referencing that “partnership was the key element in how he operated as Africom Commander.”

In a release, he said, “We make a difference. And not because we teach someone how to shoot straight, or how to drop a bomb accurately, or how to drive a ship in the right direction, but because by partnering with our friends and teammates, they see the best of America.”

Defense Secretary Gates spoke before an enlightened crowd of 700 people at the Sindelfingen City Hall, not far from the Africom base.

In addition to Defense Secretary Gates, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James E. Cartwright, also gave opening comments. Others in attendance, included staff members and dignitaries from the United States, Germany, and other European countries.

Secretary Gates referenced the extraordinary talent of General Ward, thanking him for his decades of devoted and dedicated service,which included 13 commands and numerous staff assignments.He remarked, “First and foremost, I’d like to thank the men and women serving at Africom who, under General Ward’s leadership, successfully tackled the challenge of setting up a new combatant command. The first leader of any organization defines it more than any other.”

Gates continued, that under the direction of General Ward, in a three year period, the Command excelled in guarding “vital U.S. interests,” promoting “stability” and building “key capabilities among our allies.”

Gates said that the creation of Africom brought a large amount a skepticism from personnel workers of the State and the United States Agency for International Development.

Defense Secretary Gates continued that “crime, terrorism, natural disasters, economic turmoil” and other immediate issues must be dealt with expediently. In doing so, it would help ensure that “security, stability and development go hand in hand.”

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General James E. Cartwright regarded General William Ward as an outstanding career soldier, who served with “distinction.”

“He has been a soldier for over 40 years, a statesman, a commander — battle-hardened. Ward and his spouse have done a fantastic job in Africom,” Cartwright said.

Defense Secretary Gates also presented General Ward and his wife, Joyce, with medals in recognition of their work. General Ward received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal. Joyce Ward, was presented with the Distinguished Public Service Award.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, General Ham spoke briefly, commenting on General Ward’s long standing career. He also remarked that he will continue the efforts of his predecessor, in the Command’s mission, while trying to find “African solutions to African security challenges.”

General Ham’s most recent positions were as Commanding General of the United States Army, Europe and co-chair of the Defense Department’s special “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” review board.






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About Posted by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer. In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials. Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat. Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republicanand The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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