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U.S. Armed Forces expanding U.S. Africa Command

AFRICOM is responsible for U.S. military operations, including fighting regional conflicts, and military relations with 53 African nations

Compton Herald | U.S. Africa Command
U.S., African and European military personnel stand in formation during the closing ceremony for Western Accord 15, at Winkelman Kazerne, Harskamp, Netherlands, July 31, 2015. Western Accord 2015 replicates the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, Sector Headquarters mission command in support of United Nation and African Union mandated peacekeeping operations. Photo: U.S. Army Africa/Sgt. Marcus Fichtl

The U.S. Africa Command is a U.S. Armed Forces juggernaut growing waist-deep in sub-Saharan Africa; hardly a scant presence

A growing American shadow is looming over Africa, notably south of the blistering Sahara desert. Many thought the U.S. would never imprint in what was previously known as the “Dark Continent.”

That was prior to the 1940s or thereabouts. In 2017, there is a new story. The vaunted U.S. military juggernaut has squatted in the sand there, with no intent of ever leaving.

Compton Herald | seal of AFRICOM

Seal of U. S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)


The U.S. Africa Command, or, AFRICOM, is one of nine unified combatant commands of the U.S. Armed Forces, headquartered at Kelley BarracksStuttgartGermany, has staked a highly visible presence. AFRICOM is responsible for U.S. military operations, including fighting regional conflicts, and military relations with 53 African nations. The area of responsibility covers all of Africa except Egypt, which is within the area of responsibility of the U.S. Central Command.

To grasp the significance of AFRICOM, the operating budget was $276 million in fiscal year 2012.

Commanders of U.S. Africa Command

There have been four commanders of AFRICOM since its launch in 2007. The commander reports to theSecretary of Defense.

Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward, U.S. Army, was the first to command AFRICOM, serving from Oct. 1, 2008 – March 8, 2011.

Gen. Carter F. Ham, U.S. Army, succeeded Ward and took command from March 8, 2011 – April 5, 2013.

Next was Gen. David M. Rodriguez, U.S. Army, who served from April 5, 2013 – July 18, 2016.

The current commander is Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, U.S. Marine Corps. He has commanded operations since July 18, 2016.

Mission of AFRICOM

In 2007, the White House announced, “[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.”

The U.S. Africa Command is currently operating along five lines of effort:

· Neutralize al-Shabaab and transition the security responsibilities of the African Union Mission in Somalia(AMISOM) to the Federal Government of Somalia.

· Degrade violent extremist organizations in the Sahel Maghreb and contain instability in Libya

· Contain and degrade Boko Haram

· Interdict illicit activity in the Gulf of Guinea and Central Africa with willing and capable African partners

· Build peacekeepinghumanitarian assistance and disaster response capacity of African partners.

History (2000–2006)

Prior to the creation of AFRICOM, responsibility for U.S. military operations in Africa was divided across three unified commands — United States European Command (EUCOM) for West Africa, United States Central Command (CENTCOM) for East Africa, and United States Pacific Command (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 a separate African command in November 2000. Following a 2004 global posture review, the United States Department of Defense began establishing a number of Cooperative Security Locations 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 U.S in Africa include the Sahara/Sahel region, 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 (overseeingOperation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa), and the Gulf of Guinea.

The website Magharebia.com was launched by EUCOM in 2004 to provide news about North Africa in English, French, and Arabic. When U.S. Africa Command was created, it took over operation of the website. Information operations of the U.S. Department of Defense was criticized by the Senate Armed Forces Committee and defunded by Congress in 2011. The site was closed down in February 2015.

In 2007, Congress approved $500 million for the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative 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. This program builds upon the former Pan Sahel Initiative, which concluded in December 2004 and focused on weapon and drug trafficking, as well as counterterrorism. Previous U.S. military activities in sub-Saharan Africa have included Special Forces associated Joint Combined Exchange Training.

The journal, Center for Contemporary Conflict at the Naval Postgraduate School, noted 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 China-African relations since 2000.

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.

On Feb. 6 2007, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced to the Senate Armed Services Committee that President Bush had given authority to create the new African Command. U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Robert Moeller, the director of the U.S. Africa Command transition team, arrived in Stuttgart, Germany to begin creating the logistical framework for the command. On Sept. 28 the U.S. Senate confirmed Gen. 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. On Oct. 1 2008, the command separated from EUCOM and began operating on its own as a full-fledged combatant command.

U.S. Africa Command also covers island countries commonly associated with Africa, which include Cape VerdeSão Tomé and PríncipeComorosMadagascarMauritius, and Seychelles.

Components of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)

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

On Dec. 3, 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, Italy; and Naval Forces Europe in Naples, Italy, would expand to include the Navy’s AFRICOM component.

Special Operations Command, Africa is also operational with control over Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara, and Special Operations Command and Control Element-Horn of Africa.

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

U.S. Army Africa (USARAF)

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.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, the “Dagger Brigade,” is being aligned with AFRICOM.

U.S. Naval Forces, Africa (NAVAF)

U.S. Naval Forces Europe – Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) area of responsibility 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. 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 1 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.

U.S. Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA)

Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA) is located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and serves as the air and space component to AFRICOM located at Stuttgart, Germany. Air Forces Africa shares a headquarters and units withUnited States Air Forces in Europe, and its component Air Force, 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 events, Air Forces Africa 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.

Air Forces Africa 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.

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

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

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 exercise on the African continent — as well as Exercise SHARED ACCORD 10, which was the first CJCS exercise conducted in Mozambique.

In 2013, the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Africa 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.

Subordinate Commands; Special Operations Command, Africa

Special Operations Command Africa was activated on Oct. 1 2008 and became fully operationally capable one year later. SOCAFRICA is a subordinate-unified command of U.S. Special Operations Command, operationally controlled by U.S. Africa Command, collocated with USAFRICOM at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart-Möhringen, Germany.

On Oct. 1 2008, SOCAFRICA also assumed responsibility for the Special Operations Command and Control Element – Horn of Africa, and on May 15, 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.

On April 8, 2011, Naval Special Warfare Unit 10, operationally assigned and specifically dedicated for SOCAFRICA missions, was commissioned at Panzer Kaserne, near Stuttgart, Germany. It is administratively assigned to Naval Special Warfare Group 2 on the U.S. East Coast.

Operations by U.S. Africa Command

· Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa

· Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara

· Operation Ocean Shield – Indian Ocean

· Operation Odyssey Dawn – Libya, was the first major combat deployment directed by Africa Command.

·  Operation Onward Liberty – Liberia

· Operation Unified Protector – Libya

· Operation Odyssey Lightning – Libya

Content from Wikipedia contributed to this feature

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