GASABO - The Commander of the United States Africa Command (US AFRICOM), Gen William Ward, has praised the Rwanda Defence Force’s professionalism, saying that Americans learn much from the Rwandan military.
Ward expounded on what he said was a very “valuable partnership” in a press conference at Kigali International Airport shortly before he left the country, subsequent to the conclusion of his two-day official visit.
“It is a characteristic of militaries who desire to be professional all over the world. The Rwandans don’t need to be told how to be a professional force. They have that. What they ask for are ways how to enhance that professionalism, just as we ask for that,” he said.
“We learn from Rwandans, and can pick those lessons and adjust our own training programmes.”
Accompanying Ward at the press conference was the US Ambassador to Rwanda, Stuart Symington.
“We are learning with Rwandans how to do that mission best. We have worked with twenty Rwandan battalions to improve their peace keeping skills and share information. It is a remarkable success because not only do they learn with us but we learn with them,” Symington said.
Rwanda is currently the world’s 6th largest peace keeping troop contributor, with over 2500 troops deployed in Darfur.
Gen. Ward noted that there are many ways that they can collaborate to determine most appropriate lines of activity to take when a crisis occurs, so that it can be resolved.
“As we work with the Rwandan counterparts, we share these lessons. We see this partnership as a very key one because of what Rwandans have themselves done in standing up, making a statement, moving ahead with this professional force,” Gen. Ward said.
“It is a mutually rewarding relationship, in pursuit of common interests and, that common interest is security. It is stability for peoples of a nation, of a region, and in today’s globalised world in which we live, it indeed has global implications and effects.
It is in all our interest to work together, harmoniously as we can to help bring stability and peace.”
Ward first visited Rwanda, in a different capacity – as Deputy Commander of US Europe Command, about two years ago, he noted the bilateral two-way relationship is continuing.
RDF Spokesperson Maj. Jill Rutaremara also expounded on US military support to Rwanda.
“The United States offers training support to the RDF which is in two categories – there is training support geared at enhancing our peace keeping capability, and that geared at enhancing our general military professionalism and development,” Rutaremara said.
The RDF is in the process of setting up a National Defence Academy and has, reportedly, sent some officers to the US’s legendary military institution, Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.