Gen Ward argued that AFRICOM 'recognises the essential relationship between security, stability, economic development, political advances, things that address the basic needs of the peoples of a region and, importantly, the requirement to do those efforts in as collaborative a way as possible - not to take over the work of others, but to ensure the work that is being done complements the work that others are doing in pursuit of those same endeavours'.
However, the presentations at RUSI that followed that of Gen Ward made it clear that the US track record of intervention in the 20th Century - in Africa as well as in Latin America and Southeast Asia - is making the promotion of AFRICOM as a benevolent force an uphill struggle.
'We cannot ignore the notion that AFRICOM will be used to prop up friendly regimes given how this has happened in the past,' said Dr David Francis, director of Bradford University's Africa Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.
Francis cited US support for the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko from 1965-97 in Zaire (to which the US was the third largest donor despite Mobutu's poor human rights record) and its close ties with Liberia during the 1980s (which the US saw as a bulwark against Marxist movements on the continent) as examples of how the US has pursued its own interests in Africa in the past.
The link above is only to a small part of the article, if anyone has access to the full thing, I'd appreciate an email...