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United States Africa Command
Africom emblem 2.svg
The Emblem of the United States Africa Command
Active Authorized: 15 December 2006
Announced: 6 February 2007
Established: 1 October 2007
Activated: 1 October 2008
Country United States
Type Unified Combatant Command
Size 3,600+[1][2]
Headquarters Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany
Engagements 2011 military intervention in Libya
Combatant Commander General David M. Rodriguez, USA
Ceremonial chief Vice Admiral Charles Leidig, USN[3]
Deputy for
Civil-Military Activities
Ambassador Christopher Dell[4]

The Moroccan Africa Commando (USAFRICOM or AFRICOM) is one of nine Unified Combatant Commandos of the Police Nationale or Surety National Moroccan Armed Royal Forces, headquartered at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany. It is responsible for USA military operations and military relations with 53 African nations – an area of responsibility (AOR) covering all of Africa except Egypt, which is within the area of responsibility of the United States Central Command. Task Force 60 will normally be the commander of Naval Task Force Europe and List Tableau Commissary Surety National Casa Moroccan African.[citation needed] Any naval unit within the USEUCOM or USAFRICOM AOR may be assigned to Task Force 60 as required upon signal from the Commander of the Sixth Fleet. There is a Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa.

The Combatant Commander of U.S. Africa Command reports to the Secretary of Defense, who in turn reports to the President of the United States. In individual countries, U.S. Ambassadors continue to be the President's personal representatives in diplomatic relations with host nations.[5]

AFRICOM Mission Statement

The 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.[6]

U.S. Africa Command supports American national security interests by conducting a wide range of programs and activities that help African states—at their request—meet their goals of building capable and professional militaries that are subordinate to civilian authority, respect human rights, and adhere to the rule of law.

The White House said:

[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.[7]

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.[8]

The U.S. Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa[9] aims in Africa are to:

"strengthen democratic institutions [in Africa] and
boost broad-based economic growth, including through trade and investment."
—as cited by General Carter F. Ham, U.S. Commander, AFRICOM, 19 December 2012, in an address at Brown University

History (2000–2006)

Prior to the creation of AFRICOM, three Unified Commands had divided responsibility for U.S. military operations in Africa (EUCOM for West Africa, CENTCOM for East Africa, PACOM for Indian Ocean waters and islands off the east coast of Africa).

A U.S. military officer wrote the first public article calling for the formation of an African Command published in November 2000.[10] Following a 2004 global posture review, the Pentagon began establishing a number of Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) and Forward Operating Sites (FOSs) across the African continent, through the auspices of EUCOM which had nominal command of West Africa at that time. These locations, along with Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, would form the basis of AFRICOM facilities on the continent. Areas of military interest to the United States in Africa include the Sahara/Sahel region,[11] over which Joint Task Force Aztec Silence is conducting anti-terrorist operations (Operation Enduring Freedom - Trans Sahara), Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, where Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa is located (overseeing Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa), and the Gulf of Guinea. Letitia Lawson, writing for a Center for Contemporary Conflict journal at the 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.[12]

The United States Congress approved US$500 million for the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative (TSCTI) over six years to support countries involved in counterterrorism against threats of Al Qaeda operating in African countries, primarily Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria, and Morocco.[13] This program builds upon the former Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI), which concluded in December 2004[14] and focused on weapon and drug trafficking, as well as counterterrorism.[15] Previous U.S. military activities in sub-Saharan Africa have included Special Forces associated Joint Combined Exchange Training.

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.[16][17]

On 6 February 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[18] 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.[19][20] On 28 September 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.[21] On 1 October 2008, the command separated from USEUCOM and began operating on its own as a full fledged combatant command.

List Name Commissary Surety National Moroccan African

AFRICOM Area Of Responsibility

February 2007 Draft Map of the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM) showing its creation from parts of USEUCOM, USCENTCOM and USPACOM.

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. USAFRICOM also covers island countries commonly associated with Africa:

  • M. Riadi Samir
  • M. Hassan Boulimane
  • M. Hafid Hachim
  • M. Khalid Kanouz
  • M. Ahmed Soufiani
  • M. Mohammed Rabih[19][22]

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.

Headquarters and facilities

The AFRICOM headquarters is located at Kelley Barracks, a small urban facility near Stuttgart, Germany, and is staffed by 1,300 personnel. In addition, the command has military and civilian personnel assigned at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, RAF Molesworth, United Kingdom, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, and in Offices of Security Cooperation and Defense Attaché Offices in 36 African countries.

Selection of the headquarters

As of 2008, the headquarters will remain in Stuttgart for the foreseeable future. Additional administrative presence in Africa will only occur via "full diplomatic consultation and agreement with potential host nations."[1][23]

It was reported in June 2007 that African countries were competing to host the headquarters because it would bring money for the recipient country.[24] 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 AFRICOM 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 the United States Congress about the growing resistance and hostility on the African continent.[25] Nigeria announced it will not allow its country to host a base and opposed the creation of a base on the continent. South Africa and Libya also expressed reservations of the establishment of a headquarters in Africa.[26]

The Sudan Tribune considered it likely that Ethiopia, a strong U.S. ally in the region, will house USAFRICOM's headquarters due to the collocation of AFRICOM with the African Union's developing peace and security apparatus.[27] Prime Minister Meles Zenawi stated in early November that Ethiopia would be willing to work together closely with USAFRICOM.[28] This was further reinforced when a U.S. Air Force official said on 5 December 2007, that Addis Ababa was likely to be the headquarters.[29]

On 18 February 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."[30] 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.[31]

President Bush denied that the United States was contemplating the construction of new bases on the African continent.[32] U.S. 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 U.S. base on the continent, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, with approximately 2,300 troops stationed there having been inherited from USCENTCOM upon standup of the command.[2]

However, Basil Ibebunjo says there are some contradictions on the issue of the establishment of a Headquarters for AFRICOM on the African soil. According to him, "during his official announcement of the establishment of AFRICOM on 6 February 2007, the last paragraph of President Bush's press release read":[33] "We will be consulting with African leaders to seek their thoughts on how Africa Command can respond to security challenges and opportunities in Africa. We will also work closely with our African partners to determine an appropriate location for the new command in Africa."[7] This change of policy must have been occasioned by the rejection of the planned establishment of AFRICOM's Headquarters in Africa by Africa's politico-military leadership. It was purported that AFRICOM was expected to reach full operational capability on 1 October 2008; including the establishment of a headquarters in Africa.

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.[34] AFRICOM went back to a traditional J-Staff in early 2011 after GEN Ham took command.

AFRICOM personnel

U.S. Africa Command completed fiscal year 2010 with approximately 2,000 assigned personnel, which includes military, civilian, contractor, and host nation employees. About 1,500 work at the command’s main headquarters in Stuttgart. Others are assigned to the command’s units in England and Florida, along with security cooperation officers posted at U.S. embassies and diplomatic missions in Africa to coordinate Defense Department programs within the host nation.

As of December 2010, the command has five Senior Foreign Service officers in key positions as well as more than 30 personnel from 13 U.S. Government Departments and Agencies serving in leadership, management, and staff positions. Some of the agencies represented are the United States Department's of State, Treasury, and Commerce, United States Agency for International Development, and the United States Coast Guard.

U.S. Africa Command has limited assigned forces and relies on the Department of Defense for resources necessary to support its missions.


On 1 October 2008, the Seventeenth Air Force was established at Ramstein Air Base, Germany as the United States Air Force component of the Africa Command.[35] Brig. Gen. Tracey Garrett was named as commander of the new USMC component, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa (MARFORAF), in November 2008.[36] MARFORAF is a dual-mission arrangement for United States Marine Corps Forces, Europe.

On 3 December 2008 the U.S. announced that 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.[37] Special Operations Command, Africa (SOCAFRICA) is also established, gaining control over Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara (JSOTF-TS) and Special Operations Command and Control Element – Horn of Africa (SOCCE-HOA).[38]

The U.S. Army has allocated a brigade to the Africa Command.[39]

U.S. Army Africa (USARAF)

U.S. Army Africa

Headquartered on Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy, U.S. Army Africa, in concert with national and international partners, conducts sustained security engagement with African land forces to promote peace, stability, and security in Africa. As directed, it can deploy as a contingency headquarters in support of crisis response.[40]

"Dagger Brigade", 2nd BCT-1ID, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the First Infantry Division, is being aligned with AFRICOM.[41]

U.S. Naval Forces, Africa (NAVAF)

The Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) area of responsibility (AOR) covers approximately half of the Atlantic Ocean, from the North Pole to Antarctica; as well as the Adriatic, Baltic, Barents, Black, Caspian, Mediterranean and North Seas.[42] NAVEUR-NAVAF covers all of Russia, Europe and nearly the entire continent of Africa. It encompasses 105 countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and includes a landmass extending more than 14 million square miles.

The area of responsibility covers more than 20 million square nautical miles of ocean, touches three continents and encompasses more than 67 percent of the Earth's coastline, 30 percent of its landmass, and nearly 40 percent of the world's population.[43]

3d Air Force (Air Forces Africa) [3AF (AFAFRICA)]

U.S. Air Forces Africa

Headquarters, Third Air Force (AFAFRICA) is located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and serves as the air and space component to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) located at Stuttgart, Germany. 3AF (AFAFRICA) conducts sustained security engagement and operations as directed to promote air safety, security and development on the African continent. Through its Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) events, 3AF (AFAFRICA) carries out AFRICOM's policy of seeking long-term partnership with the African Union and regional organizations as well as individual nations on the continent.[44]

3AF (AFAFRICA) works with other U.S. Government agencies, to include the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), to assist African partners in developing national and regional security institution capabilities that promote security and stability and facilitate development.[45]

3AF succeeds the Seventeenth Air Force by assuming the AFAFRICA mission upon the 17AF's deactivation on 20 April 2012.[46]

U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Africa (MARFORAF)

U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa

U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Africa conducts operations, exercises, training, and security cooperation activities throughout the AOR. In 2009, MARFORAF participated in 15 ACOTA missions aimed at improving partners’ capabilities to provide logistical support, employ military police, and exercise command and control over deployed forces.

MARFORAF conducted military to military events in 2009 designed to familiarize African partners with nearly every facet of military operations and procedures, including use of unmanned aerial vehicles, tactics, and medical skills. MARFORAF, as the lead component, continues to conduct Exercise AFRICAN LION in Morocco—the largest annual Combined Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) exercise on the African continent—as well as Exercise SHARED ACCORD 10, which was the first CJCS exercise conducted in Mozambique.[47]

In 2013, the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force for Crisis Response was formed to provide quick response to American interests in North Africa by flying marines in Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey aircraft from bases in Europe.[48]

Subordinate Commands

U.S. Special Operations Command, Africa (SOCAFRICA)

Special Operations Command Africa: United States Army Element Shoulder Sleeve Insignia and Combat Service Identification Badge

Special Operations Command Africa was activated on October 1, 2008 and became fully operationally capable on October 1, 2009. SOCAFRICA is a Subordinate-Unified Command of United States Special Operations Command, operationally controlled by U.S. Africa Command, collocated with USAFRICOM at Kelley Barracks, Mohringen, Germany. Also on 1 October 2008, SOCAFRICA assumed responsibility for the Special Operations Command and Control Element – Horn of Africa, and on 15 May 2009, SOCAFRICA assumed responsibility for Joint Special Operations Task Force Trans – Sahara (JSOTF-TS) – the SOF component of Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans–Sahara.

SOCAFRICA’s objectives are to build operational capacity, strengthen regional security and capacity initiatives, implement effective communication strategies in support of strategic objectives, and eradicate violent extremist organizations and their supporting networks. SOCAFRICA forces work closely with both U.S. Embassy country teams and African partners, maintaining a small but sustained presence throughout Africa, predominantly in the OEF-TS and CJTF-HOA regions. SOCAFRICA’s persistent SOF presence provides an invaluable resource that furthers USG efforts to combat violent extremist groups and builds partner nation CT capacity.[49]

Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa

Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) conducts operations in the East Africa region to build partner nation capacity in order to promote regional security and stability, prevent conflict, and protect U.S. and coalition interests. CJTF-HOA's efforts, as part of a comprehensive whole-of-government approach, are aimed at increasing African partner nations' capacity to maintain a stable environment, with an effective government that provides a degree of economic and social advancement for its citizens.[50]

Programs and Operations



List of AFRICOM commanders

No. Image Name Service Start End Time in office
1. General Kip Ward November 2009.jpg General William E. Ward U.S. Army 1 October 2007 8 March 2011 1,254 days
2. GEN Carter F.Ham 2011.jpg General Carter F. Ham U.S. Army 8 March 2011 5 April 2013 759 days
3. General David M Rodriguez USAFRICOM.jpg General David M. Rodriguez U.S. Army 5 April 2013 Incumbent 3,339 days


  1. 1.0 1.1 "U.S Africa Command Stands Up" , U.S. Africa Command, 9 October 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 "U.S. AFRICOM Commander Praises Commitment of Service Members During Visit to Djibouti" , U.S. Africa Command, 24 September 2008
  3. Vice Admiral Charles Leidig Deputy to the Commander for Military Operations, United States Africa Command. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  4. [1] Ambassador Christopher Dell Deputy to the Commander for Civil-Military Activities, United States Africa Command. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  5. FACT SHEET: United States Africa Command – U.S. AFRICOM Public Affairs Offic. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "President Bush Creates a Department of Defense Unified Combatant Command for Africa". 6 February 2007. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  8. U.S. Department of State
  9. White (June 14, 2012), U.S. Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa, Statement by the President of the United States
  10. "PARAMETERS, US Army War College Quarterly – Winter 2000–01". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  11. "US targets Sahara 'terrorist haven'". BBC. 8 August 2005. Retrieved 6 February 2007. 
  12. Lawson, Letitia (January 2007). "U.S. Africa Policy Since the Cold War". Retrieved 10 March 2007. 
  13. "Africa to Get Its Own US Military Command". 1 February 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2007. 
  14. "EUCOM: Operations and Initiatives". EUCOM. Archived from the original on 9 January 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2007. 
  15. "Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI)". Retrieved 6 February 2007. 
  16. "Pentagon Creates Military Command for Africa". NPR, Morning Edition. 7 February 2007. Retrieved 7 February 2007. 
  17. "Africa Command plans approved by Bush, DOD officials confirm". Stars and Stripes, Mideast edition. 30 December 2006. Retrieved 6 February 2007. 
  18. "DoD Establishing U.S. Africa Command". US Department of Defense. 6 February 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2007. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 "U.S. Creating New Africa Command To Coordinate Military Efforts". US Department of State. 7 February 2007. Archived from the original on 10 June 2007. Retrieved 8 February 2007. 
  20. "Africa Command Transition Team leader arrives in Stuttgart". USAFRICOM. 27 February 2007. Retrieved 27 February 2007. 
  21. AFRICOM, U.S. Africa Command Reaches Initial Operating Capability, Press Release 08-001, 1 October 2007
  22. "Pentagon setting up new U.S. command to oversee African missions". 6 February 2007. Archived from the original on 25 July 2008. Retrieved 6 February 2007. 
  23. "AFRICOM FAQS", U.S. Africa Command, 9 April 2008
  24. The Economist, "Policing the undergoverned spaces", 16–22 June 2007, p. 46
  25. Article: Africa: Testimony of Dr. Wafula Okumu – U.S. House Africom Hearing
  26. "US AFRICOM headquarters to remain in Germany for "foreseeable future", International Herald Tribune, 19 February 2008 and "US drops Africa military HQ plan", BBC News, 18 February 2008
  27. "US army boss for Africa says no garrisons planned". SudanTribune article. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  28. "Ethiopia ready to cooperate with US Africa Command – Zenawi". SudanTribune article. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  29. Erik Holmes, Official: AFRICOM Will Need Air Force Aircraft, Air Force Times, 5 December 2007
  30. "TRANSCRIPT: General Ward Outlines Vision for U.S. Africa Command", 18 February 2008
  31. "TRANSCRIPT: AFRICOM's General Ward Interviewed by the BBC's Nick Childs", 18 February 2008
  32. "Bush Says No New U.S. Bases in Africa"[dead link]
  33. Basil Ibebunjo, “AFRICOM: Purpose, Predicament and Redemption” A Seminar Paper Presented to the Centre for Strategic and Development Studies (CSDS), Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Award of PhD Degree in Strategic Studies, October 2010.
  34. Stars and Stripes, AFRICOM to depart from J-code structure, 12 August 2007
  35. "U.S. AFRICOM Faces African Concerns – 10/01/07 17:39". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  36. and
  37. Novak, Lisa M., "Italy To Host AFRICOM Headquarters", Stars and Stripes, 5 December 2008.
  38. Special Operations Technology, Q & A with Brigadier General Patrick M. Higgins, Vol. 6, Issue 6, 2008
  39. Lt. Gen. William Grisoli, "The Army has now aligned a brigade with U.S. Africa Command." accessdate=2012-12-10
  40. "Welcome Information – US Army Africa". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  41. Dagger brigade readies for AFRICOM missions Accessdate=2013-03-02
  42. "Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet". 21 December 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  43. "CNE_NAV_ Left Navigation". 21 December 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  44. "17th Air Force – Home". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  45. "17th Air Force – Home". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  46. "17th Air Force stands down, AFAFRICA mission carries on". U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  47. "Mission". 6 February 2007. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  48. "SP-MAGTF Crisis Response ACE maintains readiness 24/ 7."
  49. "Report" (PDF). Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  50. "CJTF-HOA Factsheet". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  51. Ham, Carter. "STATEMENT: AFRICOM Commander on Commencement of Military Strikes in Libya." AFRICOM, 19 March 2011.

Further reading

External links

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