United States Army Gen. Stephen J. Townsend has assumed command of AFRICOM, replacing Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, who served in the position for three years.
Waldhauser is retiring after 43 years of service.
Townsend steps into the AFRICOM leadership role after serving as the commander of United States Army Training and Doctrine Command. He began his new mission with an emphasis on strong partnerships.
“To our partners and allies both in Africa and Europe, AFRICOM is known for its diverse organization and partnerships,” Townsend said. “I promise you, you can continue to count on AFRICOM to continue to work side by side with you to advance our shared interests for security, stability, and prosperity across Africa.”
Townsend is the fifth commander of AFRICOM, which was established in 2008 to coordinate U.S. military relations and activities with African nations, regional organizations and the African Union. Waldhauser, who praised Townsend as a brilliant and experienced leader, said he was a perfect fit for the role.
Acting Secretary of Defense Richard V. Spencer presided over the ceremony at AFRICOM headquarters in Germany.
“This command’s focus on helping partner nations build professional militaries that support elected civilian authority and respect human rights has undoubtedly prevented crises that threaten both development, economic growth and ultimately human lives,” said Spencer. “These daily efforts that prevent the outbreak of conflict and chaos mark AFRICOM’s great success.”