Tripoli, 21 May 2012:
Washington’s top commander in Africa, General Carter F. Ham, yesterday paid an unannounced visit to Tripoli to meet senior . . .[restrict]officers and ministry of defence officials.
General Ham, head of US military operations in Africa (AFRICOM) had talks with Minister of Defence Col. Osama Juwaili as well with Libyan Armed Forces Chief of Staff, General Yousuf Mangoush.
US embassy reports on the visit spoke of “advancing bilateral” ties between the Libyan and US military, as well as looking for ways in which the Americans could help with the establishment of Libya’s new armed forces. Despite Moscow’s willingness to update and replace the large quantity of Russian tanks, armoured personnel vehicles and other weaponry bought in large quantities by the old regime, some senior Libyan officers would prefer a mix of US and European equipment.
Almost certainly on the US general’s agenda were questions to his hosts on what steps Libya is taking to stem the smuggling of Qaddafi-era sophisticated weaponry out of the country and how the threat of al-Qaeda infiltration is being addressed. Ham is also likely to have asked how well the thuwar are being integrated into the security forces or being disbanded and sent home.
When he visited Tunisia on April 24, Ham had raised the issue of weapons smuggling and their possible acquisition by al-Qaeda-linked terror groups. His trip coincided with a visit to Tunis by General Mangoush.