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AFRICOMThe U.S. Military in Africa

ALABO, Equatorial Guinea (February 01, 2008) — Navy Lieutenant Phillip McCorvey and a member of the local Equatorial Guinea soccer team exchange soccer balls signed by the members of each team. Sporting events are one of the ways in which Africa Partnership Station (APS) is creating partnerships through West and Central Africa. As part of the Navy's new cooperative maritime strategy, APS is a multi-national effort to bring the latest training and techniques to maritime professionals in West and Central Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Goyak)

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U.S. Military Command structure

The United States is the only state which divides the entire globe into military commands with a general or admiral in command of each region and designated forces.

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What is a “military command?”

A Unified Combatant Command (UCC) is a United States joint military command composed of forces from two or more services, has a broad and continuing mission, and is organized either on a geographical basis (known as "Area Of Responsibility", AOR) or on a functional basis. All UCCs are commanded by either a four star general or admiral and are considered "joint" commands with specific badges denoting their affiliation (Wikipedia)

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What is AFRICOM?

“U.S. Africa Command will 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 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 US government contributions on the continent.” AFRICOM web site.

General Kip Ward

“This new command 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." President Bush, Feb. 2007

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How will AFRICOM function

The Pentagon calls Africom a “unified combatant command,” meaning a command that combines military and civil functions. Though Africom will be led by a top-ranking four-star military general, unlike other regional commands, its deputy commander will be a State Department official. The current transition team of about sixty people—which is largely military—will form the core of Africom’s headquarters staff, but Moeller anticipates there will eventually be several hundred personnel when the command becomes operational in September 2008. Africom aims to bring together intelligence, diplomatic, health and aid experts. Staff will be drawn from all branches of the military, as well as USAID and the departments of state, agriculture, treasury, and commerce. These nonmilitary staff may be funded with money from their own departments as well as the DOD…. The Pentagon has touted the new interagency structure of Africom, but experts question whether the command will be any different than other regional commands in execution. The small size of other government offices in comparison to the military means that it may be difficult to hire enough nonmilitary staff. Council on Foreign Relations

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Why AFRICOM now?

  • Pentagon wants to increase focus on Africa; EUCOM did not pay attention

  • “Window of opportunity” to “stand up” between resignation of Rumsfeld and arrival of Gates at DOD

  • Bureaucratic opportunity to further expand military activities and capture resources

  • Corporate opportunity to “get a piece of the action” in Africa (including creation of African Union)

  • U.S. strategic interests in Africa—which are largely left unmentioned in most of the official literature

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Africa is a continent that is extremely rich in strategic materials, including oil, but is also riven by major conflicts that obstruct access to those resources.

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The People’s Republic of China is increasing its economic and assistance activity across Africa, which worries many strategic analysts

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The Northern part of Africa, some fear, is part of the mythical “New Caliphate,” and the Sahara and Sahel are regarded as “ungoverned spaces” open to terrorists

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Algeria mythical “New Caliphate,” and the Sahara and Sahel are regarded as “ungoverned spaces” open to terrorists









Sao Tome







South Africa


AFRICOM Focus Countries

53 Total Countries


10 Priority Partners

7 Cooperation Countries


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UNCLASSIFIED mythical “New Caliphate,” and the Sahara and Sahel are regarded as “ungoverned spaces” open to terrorists


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UNCLASSIFIED mythical “New Caliphate,” and the Sahara and Sahel are regarded as “ungoverned spaces” open to terrorists

US—African Exercises

  • African Exercise Program

  • Disaster Preparedness


  • C4I


  • Special Forces


  • CT Training


  • Medical Training


  • Naval Forces

    • West African Training Cruise





US Special Forces Training Exercises


SOF Training









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Somalia mythical “New Caliphate,” and the Sahara and Sahel are regarded as “ungoverned spaces” open to terrorists








Africa’s Swahili Coast

  • West Indian Ocean region:

    • Abundant natural resources

    • Developing region with growing US investment

    • Increasing importance in WOT as “safe haven” for terror elements

    • Fragile stability, poor security

    • Over $18 billion in lost revenue from fishery violations in Tanzania alone

    • Significant deficiencies in coastal defense and maritime security capabilities


Areas of Naval influence


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UNCLASSIFIED mythical “New Caliphate,” and the Sahara and Sahel are regarded as “ungoverned spaces” open to terrorists

Africa’s Gulf of Guinea

  • Gulf of Guinea:

    • Abundant natural resources

    • Top producer of light, sweet crude

    • Accelerating foreign investment

    • Direct access to EU and US oil refineries

    • Fragile stability, poor security

    • Significant deficiencies in coastal defense and maritime security capabilities







Sao Tome and Principe


Equatorial Guinea


Republic of the Congo


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Annenberg School of Communication, Center for Public Diplomacy

Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates, AFRICOM Deputy to the Commander for Civil-Military ActivitiesMajor General Herbert L. Altshuler, AFRICOM Director of Strategy, Plans and Programs Ambassador Mark Bellamy, Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International StudiesAmb. Brian Carlson, State-DoD Liaison in the Office of the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public AffairsMr. Ryan Henry, Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Ms. Nicole Lee, Executive Director of the TransAfrica ForumMr. Mark Malan, Peacebuilding Program Officer at Refugees InternationalAmbassador Charles A. Minor, Liberian Ambassador to the United States Consul General Jeanette Ndhlovu, Consul General of South AfricaDr. Abiodun Williams, Associate Dean of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University

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What is “public diplomacy?” Diplomacy

"Public Diplomacy seeks to promote the national interest of the United States through understanding, informing and influencing foreign audiences."

“PUBLIC DIPLOMACY refers to government-sponsored programs intended to inform or influence public opinion in other countries; its chief instruments are publications, motion pictures, cultural exchanges, radio and television."

"Public diplomacy . . . deals with the influence of public attitudes on the formation and execution of foreign policies. It encompasses dimensions of international relations beyond traditional diplomacy; the cultivation by governments of public opinion in other countries; the interaction of private groups and interests in one country with those of another; the reporting of foreign affairs and its impact on policy; communication between those whose job is communication, as between diplomats and foreign correspondents; and the processes of inter-cultural communications…. Central to public diplomacy is the transnational flow of information and ideas."

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What is AFRICOM’s structure? Diplomacy

  • Currently based in Stuttgart, Germany, with about 300 people on staff

  • Seeking a site for a “small” headquarters in Africa—only Liberia has lobbied and a decision has been put off for now due to African doubts and opposition

  • There would be four levels to AFRICOM

    • The headquarters, which will “reach back” to the U.S.

    • AFRICOM reps in 29 of 53 U.S. embassies in Africa

    • Representatives in African organizations (AU, ECOWAS)

    • Operating bureaucracy of 1300 (mostly “off the continent”)

  • AFRICOM proposes to coordinate and oversee U.S. financial & military assistance and aid projects in Africa

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What insights were offered at the Conference? Diplomacy

  • AFRICOM is a “brand”—it is not a “kinetic form of military intervention”

  • It is meant to “keep U.S. combat troops off the continent for at least the next half century”

  • It is intended to “build civil society” and to “bring added value” to Africa

  • It is an “arsenal of persuasion” for “helping Africans solve African problems”

  • It is not an instrument for pursuing U.S. strategic interests in Africa—although “threat is very real”

  • It is an “experiment in soft power” to “keep Africa from being a drain”

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What questions remain open? Diplomacy

  • Can the Departments of Defense and State actually work together on AFRICOM?

  • What is AFRICOM’s budget?

    • Startup about $270 million

    • 2007-08: about $75 million

    • 2009: $389 million

    • Some estimates are in the billions of dollars

    • Annual U.S. expenditures in Africa: $9 billion?

  • AFRICOM is being touted in Soldier of Fortune and other private military contractor industry publications as ushering in a bountiful new job market.