Procurement: Building AFRICOM

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April 9,2008: The U.S. is spending $92 million to build office and support facilities for the new AFRICOM (Africa Command), that was created six months ago. The complex will be put up near SOUTHCOM headquarters, outside Miami, Florida. Construction will be complete in about a 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.

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.

One thing 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 is troublesome, although not unexpected. Many of the requests for basing rights come with large financial incentives (rent payments, jobs for locals), and there are expected to be takers eventually. 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 the last five years, especially in nations with large Moslem populations. But eventually, reality trumps propaganda.

 


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