2008: The new U.S. AFRICOM (Africa Command) could not find a home in Africa.
AFRICOM is similar in organization to other commands (Central, for the Middle
East, and South, for Latin America, etc). AFRICOM will coordinate all American
military operations in Africa. Before, those operations were coordinated
between two commands (the one covering Europe and the one covering Latin
America). The establishment of AFRICOM means more money for counter-terror
operations in Africa, and more long range projects. But the U.S. could not find
a country with the combination of infrastructure, and willingness, to host a
base for the AFRICOM headquarters.
most African nations do want from AFRICOM are military and counter-terrorism
trainers. The problem with this is that, the people so trained are often then
employed as enforcers for the local dictator. Even providing training for
peacekeepers can backfire, for those peacekeeping skills can also be used to
pacify your own people.
This lack of
cooperation in hosting AFRICOM is troublesome, although not unexpected. Many of
the requests for basing rights come with large financial incentives (rent
payments, jobs for locals). The United States is the major provider of foreign
aid to Africa, and has been for some time. The mass media has been painting the
U.S. as Mr Evil for a long time, especially in nations with large Moslem
populations. But eventually, reality trumps propaganda. However, the reality of
Africa is that the place is poorly governed, poorly policed and poorly served by its elected, or
self-appointed, leaders. Corruption and crime are abundant, and terrorists have
no trouble operating there. The main reason the terrorists don't do more dirt there is that even
terrorists like a more predictable, and less chaotic, environment.
The U.S. is
spending $92 million to build office and support facilities for the AFRICOM
near SOUTHCOM headquarters, outside Miami, Florida. Construction will be
complete next year. AFRICOM headquarters are currently located outside
Stuttgart, Germany, where it will remain until a home can be found in an
African country. Many African nations are leery about getting involved. There
is fear of terrorist attacks on any AFRICOM facilities in their territory, and
some African nations, at least those run by dictators, don't want more
Americans, and their democratic ideas, upsetting the status quo. The current
thinking is that AFRICOM headquarters will remain in Germany for a long time.
one of six "unified commands" that have regional responsibility for
all U.S. military operations in their area. The other five are Central
Command (CENTCOM covers the Middle East,
Afghanistan and Central Asia), whose headquarters is in Tampa, Florida.
European Command (EUCOM, covers Europe and Russia) is in Stuttgart, Germany.
Pacific Command (PACOM covers the Pacific, China, and India and its neighbors)
is in Honolulu, Hawaii. Northern Command (NORTHCOM covers North America) is in
Colorado Springs, Colorado. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM covers South America) is
in Miami, Florida. SOUTHCOM used to be
headquartered in Panama, but given the situation in South America, moving it
back to the United States seemed a prudent idea. Same thing with CENTCOM, although
they do have a "tactical headquarters" in the Persian Gulf.