Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa Page: 2 of 40
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Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa
On February 6, 2007, the Bush Administration announced its intention to create a new unified
combatant command, U.S. Africa Command or AFRICOM, to promote U.S. national security
objectives in Africa and its surrounding waters. Prior to AFRICOM's establishment, U.S. military
involvement on the continent was divided among three commands: U.S. European Command
(EUCOM), U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), and U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). The
new command's area of responsibility (AOR) includes all African countries except Egypt.
AFRICOM was officially launched as a sub-unified command under EUCOM on October 1,
2007, and became a stand-alone command on October 1, 2008.
In recent years, analysts and U.S. policymakers have noted Africa's growing strategic importance
to U.S. interests. Among those interests are Africa's role in the Global War on Terror and potential
threats posed by uncontrolled spaces; the growing importance of Africa's natural resources,
particularly energy resources; and ongoing concern for Africa's many humanitarian crises, armed
conflicts, and more general challenges, such as the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS. In 2006,
Congress authorized a feasibility study on the creation of a new command for Africa to
consolidate current operations and activities on the continent under one commander.
As envisioned by the Department of Defense (DOD), AFRICOM will promote U.S. strategic
objectives by working with African states and regional organizations to help strengthen regional
stability and security through improved security capability and military professionalization. If
directed by national command authorities, its military operations would aim to deter aggression
and respond to crises.
DOD signaled its intention to locate AFRICOM's headquarters on the continent early in the
planning process, but such a move is unlikely to take place for several years, if at all. U.S officials
are consulting with strategic partners in the region to determine what type of presence on the
continent would be most appropriate, and what location, or locations, are most suitable. The new
command will operate from Stuttgart, Germany for the foreseeable future. DOD has stressed that
there are no plans to have a significant troop presence on the continent.
The 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa highlighted the threat of terrorism to U.S.
interests on the continent. Political instability and civil wars have created vast ungoverned spaces,
areas in which some experts allege that terrorist groups may train and operate. Instability also
heightens human suffering and retards economic development, which may in turn threaten U.S.
economic interests. Africa's exports of crude oil to the United States are now roughly equal to
those of the Middle East, further emphasizing the continent's strategic importance. This report
provides a broad overview of U.S. strategic interests in Africa and the role of U.S. military efforts
on the continent as they pertain to the creation of AFRICOM. A discussion of AFRICOM's
mission, its coordination with other government agencies, and its basing and manpower
requirements is included. This report will be updated as events warrant.
Congressional Research Service
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Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa, report, January 5, 2009; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc817873/m1/2/: accessed October 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.