The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) presented its annual “Visionary Award: Achievement in Peace and Security” to U.S. Army General William E. “Kip” Ward during an award ceremony and luncheon held in his honor on June 8, 2011, in conjunction with the ACSS Senior Leaders Seminar in Washington, D.C. The Visionary Award is given to a person whom the Center deems to have made an outstanding contribution towards promoting democracy, good governance, improving civil-military relations, fostering cooperation in the security arena, and countering ideological support for terrorism. Through this award, the Africa Center recognizes General Ward’s numerous achievements and contribution to peace and security in Africa as the first Commander of United States Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM).
The award ceremony took place in front of an audience of approximately 70 senior-level military officers and civilian officials from Africa at the Double Tree Hotel in Arlington, VA. United States Government officials from the Department of State and the Department of Defense were also in the attendance as well as ambassadors and embassy representatives from several African and European countries.
Ambassador Mary Yates, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council was unable to attend but sent a letter honoring General Ward, which was read aloud. Ambassador Yates, formerly General Ward’s Deputy for Civil and Military Affairs at U. S. AFRICOM, recalled the many obstacles he overcame while building a new unified Command in the U.S. military. Her words also praised his leadership, his morale boosting pep talks, and “his genuine admiration, enthusiasm and affection for the African continent and its many leaders – civilian and military.”
Having been honored last year by General Ward as the 2010 recipient of the Visionary Award, Nigerian General Martin Luther Agwai (ret.), former Chief of Defense Staff, returned the favor this year. He pointed out in his remarks that General Ward is only the 5th African American to reach the rank of four-star general. He added that his colleague and friend Kip Ward “will be remembered in Africa by the military because of his effort in providing training assistance to hundreds of military and civilian personnel from forty-four African countries; resulting in the building of strong interstate military relationships….He worked closely with the U.S. State Department as well as other stakeholders to help the growth of democracy in Africa by putting necessary institutions in the area of rule of law and human rights.”
According to Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.), Director of ACSS, it was not difficult to decide on General Ward as the recipient of this year’s Visionary Award. He is an exemplary leader whose vision and commitment to Africa are unwavering. He went on to add in his remarks, “Is there any area here where Kip Ward has not excelled? From enhancing military professionalism, to reforming military organizations, to promoting good governance and respect for human rights, to his distinguished service in addressing a wide array of security challenges in Africa – Kip Ward has set an example of inspired and visionary leadership. It was thus a pleasure not so much to select him as to acclaim him as the ACSS Visionary Award winner for 2011.”
Honored and humble, General Ward reminded the audience that building U.S. AFRICOM wouldn’t have been possible without the support and the hard work of his teammates in Stuttgart and his African partners, whom he thanked wholeheartedly. He also said, “The work that all of us here attempt to do in support of peace and security in Africa is notable and important work for human kind and our global community…In this effort, having reliable partners– partners who listen and learn as opposed to dictating and demanding– is important. Partners who seek to understand from the perspective of those who are impacted when security and peace are lacking. Partners who know that development, economic and social development are essential pillars in the stability of the continent.”
Previous honorees include Alpha Oumar Konaré, Chairman of the African Union Commission and former president of the Republic of Mali, Mrs Graça Machel, former first lady of Mozambique and South Africa, General Lamine Cissé (ret.) from Senegal, John Githongo, a renowned Kenyan activist, and Nigerian General Martin Agwai (ret.). General William E. “Kip” Ward is the first American to receive this award.
The Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a Department of Defense regional center, supports U.S. policy by bringing civilian and military leaders together for informed debate on current security challenges facing Africa and the international community. For more information about the Africa Center, visit www.africacenter.org.