United States Africa Command: Wikis


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United States Africa Command
Africom emblem.JPG
The Emblem of the United States Africa Command.
Active Authorized: February 6, 2007
Established October 1, 2007
Activated: October 1, 2008
Country United States
Type Unified Combatant Command
Size 3,600+[1][2]
Headquarters Kelley Barracks, in Stuttgart, Germany
Combatant Commander General William E. Ward, USA
Deputy for
Military Operations
Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller, USN
Deputy for
Civil-Military Activities
Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes

The United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM or AFRICOM) is a Unified Combatant Command of the United States Department of Defense that is responsible for U.S. military operations and military relations with 53 African nations - an area of responsibility covering all of Africa except Egypt. Africa Command was established October 1, 2007 as a temporary sub-unified command under U.S. European Command, which for more than two decades was responsible for U.S. military relations with more than 40 African nations. Africa Command was formally activated October 1, 2008, during a public ceremony at the Pentagon attended by representatives of African nations posted in Washington, D.C.



Officials from Africa Command have repeatedly stressed that they are not seeking headquarters or basing locations in Africa. In June 2007 early plans, predating the establishment of the command, discussed the possibility of a "distributed command" that would be networked across several countries rather than a single combatant command headquarters. However, following wide-ranging international consultations, leaders of the new command said they chose to focus on building programs and partnerships while suspending discussions about possible locations until after the command was well established. In February 2008 a spokesman for AFRICOM stated that its headquarters will be located in Stuttgart for the foreseeable future.[3]

Geopolitical background (2000-2006)

Prior to the creation of AFRICOM, three Unified Commands had divided responsibility for U.S. military operations in Africa. The United States Navy´s Naval Postgraduate School noted in January 2007 that U.S. policy towards Africa, at least in the medium-term, looks to be largely defined by international terrorism, the increasing importance of African oil to American energy needs, and the dramatic expansion and improvement of Sino-African relations since the turn of the century.[4]

A U.S. military officer wrote the first public article calling for the formation of an African Command published in November 2000.[5] A January 2002 report from the African Oil Policy Initiative Group played a role in getting discussions about such a command started within the U.S. national security community, though their specific recommendation was to create a subcommand for the Gulf of Guinea.[6] The AOPIG report emphasised that the U.S. National Intelligence Council has estimated that the United States will buy 25 percent of its oil from Africa by 2015. In general, areas of increasing interest to the United States in Africa include the Sahara/Sahel region,[7] over which Joint Task Force Aztec Silence is conducting anti-terrorist operations (known as Operation Enduring Freedom - Trans Sahara), the Horn of Africa, where Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa is located in Djibouti (conducting operations which have been called Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa), and the Gulf of Guinea, whose oil resources are expected to gain in importance.

The U.S. Congress has approved US$500 million for the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative (TSCTI) over six years to support countries involved in counterterrorism against alleged threats of Al Qaeda operating in African countries, primarily Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria, and Morocco.[8] This program builds upon the former Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI), which concluded in December 2004[9] and focused on weapon and drug trafficking, as well as counterterrorism.[10] Previous U.S. military activities in sub-Saharan Africa have included Special Forces associated Joint Combined Exchange Training.

As a result of the 2004 global posture review, the Pentagon began implementing a number of Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) and Forward Operating Sites (FOSs) across the African continent, through USEUCOM. These locations, along with Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, would form the basis of AFRICOM facilities on the continent.

Creation of AFRICOM (2006-2008)


In mid 2006, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld formed a planning team to advise on requirements for establishing a new Unified Command for the African continent. In early December, he made his recommendations to President George W. Bush.[11][12]

On February 6, 2007, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced to the Senate Armed Services Committee that President George W. Bush had given authority to create the new African Command and[13]U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Robert Moeller, the director of the AFRICOM transition team, arrived in Stuttgart Germany to begin creating the logistical framework for the command.[14][15] On September 28 the U.S. Senate confirmed General William E. "Kip" Ward as AFRICOM's first commander and AFRICOM officially became operational as a sub-unified command of EUCOM with a separate headquarters.[16] On October 1, 2008, the command separated from USEUCOM and began operating on its own as a full fledged Command.

Selecting a headquarters

The 1,300 person command will be headquartered at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany for the foreseeable future and a further administrative presence on the continent will only occur via "full diplomatic consultation and agreement with potential host nations".[1][17]

It was reported in June 2007 that African countries were competing to host the headquarters because it would bring money for the recipient country.[18][19] However, of all the African nations, only Liberia has publicly expressed a willingness to host AFRICOM's headquarters. The U.S. declared in February 2008 that Africa Command would be headquartered in Stuttgart for the "foreseeable future". In August 2007, Dr. Wafula Okumu, a research fellow at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, testified before congress about the growing resistance and hostility on the African continent[20] Nigeria, has announced it will not allow his country to host a base and opposed the creation of a base on the continent. South Africa and Libya have also expressed reservations of the establishment of a headquarters in Africa.[21]

The Sudan Tribune considers it likely that Ethiopia, considered to be one of the US' strongest allies in the region, will house USAFRICOM's headquarters due to the collocation of AFRICOM with the African Union's developing peace and security apparatus.[22] Prime Minister Meles Zenawi stated in early November that Ethiopia would be willing to work together closely with USAFRICOM.[23] This was further reinforced when a U.S. Air Force official said on December 5, 2007, that Addis Ababa was likely to be the headquarters.[24]

On February 18, 2008 General Ward told an audience at the Royal United Services Institute in London that some portion of that staff headquarters being on the continent at some point in time would be "a positive factor in helping us better deliver programs."[25] General Ward also told the BBC the same day in an interview that there are no definite plans to take the headquarters or a portion of it to any particular location on the continent.[26]

President Bush has denied that the United States was contemplating the construction of new bases on the African continent.[27] US plans include no large installations such as Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, but rather a network of facilities - the so-called 'cooperative security locations,' etc, mentioned above, at which temporary activities will be conducted. There is one permanent, large US base on the continent, Camp Lemonier in Djibouti with over 2300 troops stationed there that was inherited from USCENTCOM upon standup of the command.[2]

In general, U.S. Unified Combatant Commands have an HQ of their own in one location, subordinate service component HQs, sometimes one or two co-located with the main HQ or sometimes spread widely, and a wide range of operating locations, main bases, forward detachments, etc. USAFRICOM initially appears to be considering something slightly different; spreading the actually COCOM HQ over several locations, rather than having the COCOM HQ in one place and the putative 'U.S. Army Forces, Africa', its air component, and 'U.S. Naval Forces, Africa' in one to four separate locations. AFRICOM will not have the traditional J-type staff divisions, instead having outreach, plans and programs, knowledge development, operations and logistics, and resources branches.[28]


On October 1, 2008 the Seventeenth Air Force was established at Ramstein Air Base, Germany as the United States Air Force component of the Africa Command.[29] Brig. Gen. Tracey Garrett was named as commander of the new USMC component, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa (MARFORAF), in November 2008.[30] MARFORAF is a dual-hatting arrangement for United States Marine Corps Forces, Europe.

On December 3, 2008 the US announced that US Army and Navy headquarters units of AFRICOM would be hosted in Italy. The AFRICOM section of the Army’s Southern European Task Force would be located in Vicenza and Naval Forces Europe in Naples would expand to include the Navy's AFRICOM component.[31] Special Operations Command, Africa (SOCAFRICA) is also being established, which will gain control over Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara (JSOTF-TS) and Special Operations Command and Control Element - Horn of Africa (SOCCE-HOA).[32]

Scope of proposed operations

The focus of USAFRICOM's missions will be diplomatic, economic and humanitarian aid, aimed at prevention of conflict, rather than at military intervention, according to Theresa Whelan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs.[33] This is, to an extent, a misnomer. All United States combatant commands have the same responsibilities in general: to plan, direct and execute U.S. military operations in their assigned area of responsibility. AFRICOM is only different in that the situation on the continent, U.S. officials believe, would be better served by the military, in many cases, playing a secondary role to other efforts. Steven Morrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies agrees that the new command holds potential well beyond military oversight. Rather, its mission could be defined by an interagency mix, focusing the efforts of intelligence, diplomatic, health and aid experts.[11]

Official goals

U.S. Africa Command's formal mission statement, approved in May 2008, says:

"United States Africa Command, in concert with other U.S. government agencies and international partners, conducts sustained security engagement through military-to-military programs, military-sponsored activities, and other military operations as directed to promote a stable and secure African environment in support of U.S. foreign policy."[34]

The White House stated that:

"[AFRICOM] will strengthen our security cooperation with Africa and create new opportunities to bolster the capabilities of our partners in Africa. Africa Command will enhance our efforts to bring peace and security to the people of Africa and promote our common goals of development, health, education, democracy, and economic growth in Africa."[35]

February 2007 Draft Map of the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM) showing its creation from parts of USEUCOM, USCENTCOM and USPACOM. (Click to see enlarged image). An updated definitive map from the Unified Command Plan 2008, signed by the President on December 17, 2008 can be found at http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/unifiedcommand/

The U.S. Department of State stated of AFRICOM that:

"The U.S. military’s new command center for Africa, Africa Command (AFRICOM), will play a supportive role as Africans continue to build democratic institutions and establish good governance across the continent. AFRICOM’S foremost mission is to help Africans achieve their own security, and to support African leadership efforts."[36]

Geographic scope

The territory of the command consists of all of the African continent except for Egypt, which remains under the direct responsibility of USCENTCOM, as it closely relates to the Middle East.[33] USAFRICOM also consists of the following island groups;

The U.S. military areas of responsibility involved were transferred from three separate U.S. unified combatant commands. Most of Africa was transferred from the United States European Command with the Horn of Africa and Sudan transferred from the United States Central Command. Responsibility for U.S. military operations in the islands of Madagascar, the Comoros, the Seychelles and Mauritius was transferred from the United States Pacific Command.


  1. ^ a b "U.S Africa Command Stands Up" , U.S. Africa Command, October 9, 2008
  2. ^ a b "U.S. AFRICOM Commander Praises Commitment of Service Members During Visit to Djibouti" , U.S. Africa Command, September 24, 2008
  3. ^ "US AFRICOM headquarters to remain in Germany for "foreseeable future"". International Herald Tribune. 2008-02-19. http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/02/19/africa/AF-GEN-US-Africa-Command.php. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  4. ^ Lawson, Letitia (January 2007). "U.S. Africa Policy Since the Cold War". Strategic Insights VI (1). http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/si/2007/Jan/lawsonJan07.asp. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  5. ^ PARAMETERS, US Army War College Quarterly - Winter 2000-01
  6. ^ "With Mideast uncertainty, US turns to Africa for oil". Christian Science Monitor. 2002-05-23. http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0523/p07s01-woaf.html. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  7. ^ "US targets Sahara 'terrorist haven'". BBC. 2005-08-08. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4749357.stm. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  8. ^ "Africa to Get Its Own US Military Command". Antiwar.com. 2007-02-01. http://www.antiwar.com/lobe/?articleid=10443. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  9. ^ "EUCOM: Operations and Initiatives". EUCOM. http://www.eucom.mil/english/Operations/main.asp. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  10. ^ "Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI)". GlobalSecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/pan-sahel.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  11. ^ a b "Pentagon Creates Military Command for Africa". NPR, Morning Edition. 2007-02-07. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7234997. Retrieved 2007-02-07. 
  12. ^ "Africa Command plans approved by Bush, DOD officials confirm". Stars and Stripes, Mideast edition. 2006-12-30. http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=42476. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  13. ^ "DoD Establishing U.S. Africa Command". US Department of Defense. 2007-02-06. http://www.defenselink.mil/News/NewsArticle.aspx?id=2940. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  14. ^ a b "U.S. Creating New Africa Command To Coordinate Military Efforts". US Department of State. 2007-02-07. http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2007&m=February&x=20070206170933MVyelwarC0.2182581. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  15. ^ "Africa Command Transition Team leader arrives in Stuttgart". USAFRICOM. 2007-02-27. http://www.eucom.mil/english/FullStory.asp?art=1257. Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  16. ^ AFRICOM, U.S. Africa Command Reaches Initial Operating Capability, Press Release 08-001, October 1, 2007
  17. ^ "AFRICOM FAQS" , U.S. Africa Command, April 9, 2008
  18. ^ The Economist, 'Policing the undergoverned spaces, June 16-22 issue, p.46
  19. ^ ibid., Economist, 16-22 June 2007
  20. ^ allAfrica.com Article: Africa: Testimony of Dr. Wafula Okumu - U.S. House Africom Hearing
  21. ^ "US AFRICOM headquarters to remain in Germany for "foreseeable future", International Herald Tribune, February 19, 2008 and "US drops Africa military HQ plan", BBC News, February 18, 2008
  22. ^ SudanTribune article: US army boss for Africa says no garrisons planned
  23. ^ SudanTribune article: Ethiopia ready to cooperate with US Africa Command - Zenawi
  24. ^ Erik Holmes, Official: AFRICOM Will Need Air Force Aircraft, Air Force Times, December 5, 2007
  25. ^ "TRANSCRIPT: General Ward Outlines Vision for U.S. Africa Command", February 18, 2008
  26. ^ "TRANSCRIPT: AFRICOM's General Ward Interviewed by the BBC's Nick Childs", February 18, 2008
  27. ^ http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2008/02/20/ap4674005.html "Bush Says No New U.S. Bases in Africa"
  28. ^ Stars and Stripes, AFRICOM to depart from J-code structure, August 12, 2007
  29. ^ DefenseNews.com - U.S. AFRICOM Faces African Concerns - 10/01/07 17:39
  30. ^ http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=2252 and http://www.emansion.gov.lr/press.php?news_id=949
  31. ^ Novak, Lisa M., "Italy To Host AFRICOM Headquarters", Stars and Stripes, December 5, 2008.
  32. ^ Special Operations Technology, Q & A with Brigadier General Patrick M. Higgins, Vol. 6, Issue 6, 2008
  33. ^ a b "US Creates Military Command for Africa". Voice of America. 2007-02-06. http://www.voanews.com/english/2007-02-06-voa31.cfm. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  34. ^ http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=1644
  35. ^ President Bush Creates a Department of Defense Unified Combatant Command for Africa
  36. ^ U.S. Department of State
  37. ^ "Pentagon setting up new U.S. command to oversee African missions". Associated Press. 2007-02-06. http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/02/06/america/NA-GEN-US-Africa-Command.php. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 

Further reading

External links

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