QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT AFRICOM

What is AFRICOM?
The United States Africa Command, also known as AFRICOM, is a new U.S. military headquarters devoted solely to Africa. It is one of the Defense Department's six regional headquarters. Africa Command is the result of an internal reorganization of the U.S. military command structure, creating one administrative headquarters that is responsible to the Secretary of Defense for U.S. military relations with 53 African countries.


What is U.S. Africa Command designed to do?
U.S. Africa Command better enables the Department of Defense and other elements of the U.S. government to work in concert and with partners to achieve a more stable environment in which political and economic growth can take place. U.S. Africa Command is consolidating the efforts of three existing headquarters commands into one that is focused solely on Africa and helping to coordinate U.S. government contributions on the continent.


What is Africa Command's focus?
Unlike traditional Unified Commands, Africa Command will focus on war prevention rather than war-fighting. Africa Command intends to work with African nations and African organizations to build regional security and crisis-response capacity in support of U.S. government efforts in Africa. Through 2008, Africa Command will gradually assume administrative control over existing U.S. Defense Department programs, currently administered by U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command and U.S. Pacific Command.


Why is the Department of Defense creating the command?
Africa is growing in military, strategic and economic importance in global affairs. However, many nations on the African continent continue to rely on the international community for assistance with security concerns. From the U.S. perspective, it makes strategic sense to help build the capability for African partners, and organizations such as the Africa Standby Force, to take the lead in establishing a secure environment. This security will, in turn, set the groundwork for increased political stability and economic growth.


Is the United States consulting with African nations and regional organizations on Africa Command?
The United States has consulted extensively with African governments, the African Union and others. The United States plans to continue these consultations and to work closely with African governments, regional organizations, and the international community.


Does AFRICOM threaten the sovereignty of other nations?
No. U.S. Africa Command will in no way infringe on the sovereignty of any African nation. Africa Command is an administrative reorganization of long-existing U.S. military relationships with African nations and organizations, just as the U.S. Defense Department coordinates relationships with nations and regional organizations throughout the world.


What is the timeline for establishing Africa Command?
U.S. Africa Command was established in October 2007 and operated under U.S. European Command during its first year. October 1, 2008 marked U.S. Africa Command's transition to independent Unified Command Status. It is now focused on synchronizing hundreds of activities inherited from three regional commands that previously coordinated U.S. military relations in Africa.


Where will the command's headquarters be located? Are you considering a location in Africa?
For now, U.S. Africa Command uses existing facilities at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany. The U.S. government is deliberating with partner nations to determine the best presence for U.S. Africa Command.


What kind of presence will AFRICOM have on the African continent?
The command inherits a small but meaningful U.S. military presence already existing in numerous African nations, to include Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, as well as Defense Department personnel assigned to U.S. Embassies and diplomatic missions to coordinate Defense Department programs supporting U.S. diplomacy.

Any additional presence on the continent will take place only in full diplomatic consultation and agreement with potential host nations. We believe AFRICOM will be more effective if some members of the staff are physically living and working on the continent, where they can meet face-to-face with their counterparts in African governments and nongovernmental organizations.


Why is U.S. Africa Command in Germany? Is AFRICOM headquarters in Germany because it was not welcomed in Africa?
In February 2007, when the U.S. government announced the decision to create U.S. Africa Command, Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, was named as the interim location while the headquarters is assembled and refined during a multiyear process.

U.S. European Command (EUCOM) is located in Stuttgart, Germany, and for several decades, EUCOM has coordinated U.S. military relations with the majority of African nations. When the decision was made to create a U.S. command for Africa, Stuttgart made sense as its initial location. The Kelley Barracks site makes use of existing facilities that have housed U.S. military administrative offices and headquarters staff for decades. The location is a few kilometers from EUCOM, allowing for specialists and administrative staff to closely coordinate during the transition. Kelley Barracks is a small urban compound on the outskirts of Stuttgart, the sixth largest city in Germany. The installation is next door to offices of Daimler, the automotive corporation. No decisions have been made about the command's permanent location.


To whom will U.S. Africa Command report?
Established as a sub-unified command in October 2007, U.S. Africa Command was subordinate to U.S. European Command during a year-long transition period. Upon becoming a unified regional command in October 2008, the commander of Africa Command reports to the Secretary of Defense, as do all the other unified commanders in the Department of Defense. The U.S. Department of State will continue to be the primary U.S. government agency responsible for U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy. Ambassadors at U.S. Embassies in Africa will continue to be the President's personal representatives to host-nation governments and international organizations. The U.S. Africa Command will work closely with, and in support of, U.S. Embassies and diplomatic missions. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will continue to be the lead U.S. agency for development and humanitarian activities.


What is its Area of Activity?
U.S. Africa Command is responsible to the Secretary of Defense for U.S. military relations with 53 African countries, including the Islands of Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome and Principe, and the Indian Ocean islands of Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles. U.S. Central Command maintains its traditional relationship with Egypt, but AFRICOM coordinates with Egypt on issues relating to Africa security.


What is AFRICOM's budget?
Funding: The U.S. Africa Command transition team was budgeted for approximately $50 million in Fiscal Year 2007, and the command received $75.5 million for Fiscal Year 2008 and $310 million for Fiscal Year 2009.


Is the creation of U.S. Africa Command in response to recent events in Somalia or Darfur?
No. However, the crisis in Darfur and developing situation in Somalia do highlight the nature of the threats to African regional stability and security. U.S. Africa Command will consolidate the efforts of three commands into one focused solely on Africa and help coordinate U.S. Government contributions on the continent. U.S. Africa Command is designed to better enable the Department of Defense and other elements of the U.S. government, to work in concert and with partners to achieve a more stable environment in which 1) political and economic growth can take place and 2) humanitarian and development assistance can be used more effectively.


Is this an effort by the United States to gain access to natural resources (for example, petroleum)? Is this in response to Chinese activities in Africa?
No. Africa is growing in military, strategic and economic importance in global affairs. We are seeking more effective ways to help African nations and regional organizations bolster security on the continent, to prevent and respond to humanitarian crises, to improve cooperative efforts with African nations to stem transnational terrorism, and to sustain enduring efforts that contribute to African unity.


What role would U.S. troops have in African peacekeeping missions?
U.S. Africa Command's focus is to build capacity and capabilities among our African partners so that they are able to tackle Africa's security challenges. We see U.S. Africa Command's role to be a supporting role.


Does this mean there will be more deployments of U.S. forces to Africa?
The establishment of U.S. Africa Command does not directly result in changes to U.S. deployments. AFRICOM does not expand the U.S. Defense Department's mission. Instead, the command will focus on gaining more efficiency and effectiveness from existing U.S. resources. These existing programs and activities take place in consultation with the host nation partners in Africa.


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AFRICOM Dialogue

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