U.S. Africa Command has a new commander — its fifth since the command stood up in 2008 — as Army Gen. Stephen J. Townsend has succeeded Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, who is retiring after 43 years of service.
The change-of-command ceremony took place this morning at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany.
Addressing civilians, service members and family members of the command, Townsend said he is honored and excited to join the Africom ranks and that he looks forward to meeting the command’s important mission for the United States.
Richard V. Spencer, performing the duties of the deputy secretary of defense, hosted the ceremony and thanked Waldhauser for his four-decade career and his service as Africom commander.
“General Waldhauser, … know that this command stands postured to continue success beyond your hard work and leadership,” Spencer said.
During his Africom tenure, he continued, Waldhauser worked to align the command with the National Defense Strategy, which is built on three lines of effort: increased lethality, bolstering coalitions and partnerships, and reforms in DOD.
“General Townsend brings a wealth of experience from his position as former commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve,” Spencer said, noting that Townsend led the coalition’s efforts to destroy the ISIS physical caliphate in both Iraq and Syria.
“Townsend has a sterling reputation, and I am entirely confident Africom will achieve even greater successes” under his command, Spencer said.
“You are absolutely the right leader to take this command and organization,” Spencer said to Townsend.
Spencer also addressed the Africom military and civilian audience, “What you do to strengthen this command and promote security within the region is unequaled,” he said. “The American people are exceptionally proud of your accomplishments.”
Waldhauser also spoke at the ceremony. “Across Africa, the security challenges are many,” he said. “Malign influence and the confluence of illicit activity, environmental variance, extremism and poor governance are but a few of the factors that continue to fuel insecurity and disenfranchisement.”
The new Africom commander let the audience know what his agenda would be.
“We are excited to join you and your ranks,” Townsend said to the audience. “We look forward to working with you and accomplishing Africom’s important mission.”
Together, he said, “we will protect our nation from threats abroad, and ensure the U.S. and our allies remain partners in Africa now and in the future.”
To the command’s partners and allies in Africa and Europe, Townsend said Africom is known for its diverse organization and partnerships.
“Having recently celebrated our 10th anniversary, we are a young command. But we are one with an important focus for our combined nations. I promise you [that] you can continue to count on Africom to work side by side with you to advance our combined interests, security, stability and prosperity across Africa.”
- July 27, 2019 at 10:36 am by USA Editor (displayed above)
- July 27, 2019 at 10:36 am by USA Editor