By Jim Dolbow
USNI Blog recently participated in a DOD Bloggers Roundtable with Maj. Gen. William “Burke” Garrett III, commanding general, U.S. Army Africa. Regarding the role of the Army Reserve and National Guard, MG Garrett had this to say:
…the Army Guard and Reserve both offer capabilities that we desire to bring to bear in Africa. As I, as you may know, or may not, U.S. Army Africa has no assigned forces. I have a planning and contingency headquarters, a main command post, and a contingency command post. But our mission, our role is to bring to bear all the capabilities of the U.S. Army in Africa, active, guard, and reserve.
The guard and reserve both provide niche capabilities especially that we’re interested in. And I’m talking about things like civil affairs teams. I’m talking about well-drilling units, those kind of things that you don’t find in the active force.
There’s also a very good state partnership, or series of state partnership programs we have in place in Africa and that’s where the National Guard has teamed up with a country in Africa, essentially a twinning or pairing of a state with a country. And we have, as I recall, about a half dozen right now states that are signed on to partner with African countries. And the mechanism for that partnering is the National Guard. And we are very eager to grow that and gain more interest and participation in that partnership.
You might also note, just an anecdote, we’ve got a young captain, Captain Al Suffalo (sp) who is from the North Carolina Army National Guard and we have borrowed him for about five months. And we’re going to put him on a ship, a U.S. Navy ship that’s going to be operating around the littoral areas of Africa for the next five months. And he will be their civil affairs coordinator. Every time they roll in to port to do an activity this young Army captain is going to step forward and organize that effort. And while he’s doing that he’s also determining where we can come back later and provide a larger Army Africa effort to reinforce the activities down there.
So bottom line is the Guard and Reserve bring a great capability to bear and we’re very, very excited about our new partnership with both organizations.
When asked in a follow-up, if his command had more requests for help than they could answer, MG Garrett replied, “At this time, yes.”
Full Transcript of the DOD Blogger Roundtable here.