U.S. AFRICOM changes command

15:34, March 10, 2011      

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U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) on Wednesday greeted its new commander, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates was on hand to oversee the change of command, the Pentagon said.

At a ceremony in the Sindelfingen city hall near AFRICOM's headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, Army Gen. William "Kip" Ward passed the reins of AFRICOM to Army Gen. Carter Ham, after nearly three years at the helm of the newest command of the U.S. forces.

Defense Secretary Gates officiated at the ceremony, according to the American Forces Press Service, the Pentagon's media arm. He said the command, under Ward's leadership, "successfully tackled the challenge of setting up a new combatant command."

"When crime, terrorism, natural disasters, economic turmoil, ethnic fissures and disease can be just as destabilizing as traditional military threats, we need to fuse old understandings of security with new concepts of how security, stability and development go hand in hand," said Gates, noting Ward put those concepts into action as commander, and Ham will be an able successor.

Ham most recently served as commander of U.S. Army Europe and as co-chair of the Defense Department's special "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" review board.

AFRICOM was set up in October 2007 and assumed operational oversight of U.S. humanitarian assistance and counterterrorism efforts across the African continent, but failed to find a country on the African continent that's willing to host it.

Source: Xinhua

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