Tripoli talks advance U.S. Army relationship with Libyan land forces
By Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Africa
Maj. Gen. William B. Garrett, commanding general, U.S. Army Africa (front row, center), meets with key Libyan military leaders during a recent trip to Libya to discuss the emerging relationship between U.S. Army and Libyan land forces. – U.S. Army photo. Click here to download or share this photo.
VICENZA, Italy - The U.S. Army Africa commanding general recently made a historic trip to Libya to discuss the emerging relationship between the U.S. Army and Libya's land forces.
In early May, Maj. Gen. William B. Garrett III visited Tripoli, where he held talks with key Libyan military leaders. The visit indicates the U.S. Army’s commitment toward building a cooperative relationship with Libya’s land forces and increasing regional security.
Garrett’s visit was coordinated through the U.S. Embassy Tripoli and U.S. Ambassador Gene Cretz greeted Garrett at Mitiga International Airport.
“We are gradually opening a dialog that has not existed between our land forces in a long time,” Garrett said. “Times have changed and relationships must change too.”
The general’s first stop was the headquarters of the North African Regional Capability (NARC) to meet Maj. Gen. Ahmid Auwn, Libya's chief of staff for Army Mechanized Units and Executive Director of the NARC. The NARC is part of the African Standby Force, which consists of five regional brigade-size commands that can support the African Union during times of crisis. Libyan willingness to open a dialogue with the U.S. Army is in an important part of increasing regional cooperation.
“We will look to the NARC leadership to work together on future events that are mutually beneficial,” Garrett said.
The general also toured the Libyan Bureau of Technical Cooperation and National Committees, and the Libyan Military Staff College, where he met with the director, Maj. Gen. Ahmid Mahmud Azwai. These visits emphasized the importance of material standardization, training and education in developing future leaders.
Garrett's visit follows a military cooperation committee meeting held in Tripoli in late-February, where delegations of Libyan and U.S. military officers discussed areas of common interest and planned future partnership events, said Maj. Philip Archer, U.S. Army Africa’s North African Regional Desk Officer. “Proposed events include inviting Libyan officers to visit Army schools in the United States, holding discussion on border security, conducting medical exchanges and sharing helicopter procedures,” Archer said. One of U.S. Army Africa’s goals is to help Libya and other members of the NARC build the brigade into a capable force that is interoperable with other regional standby forces and can be used for peace support operations.
“U.S. Army Africa’s discussions in Tripoli are a positive step toward working together with Libya’s military,” Garrett said. “We now have a better understanding of each other’s goals and can work together to achieve increased security, stability and peace in North Africa.”
Garrett concluded his trip to Libya with a wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of fallen American sailors, who perished when their ship exploded in Tripoli harbor in 1804.