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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Good backgrounder on "Africom"


From the Council on Foreign Relations The Pentagon’s New Africa Command:
hree U.S. regional commands currently share responsibility for American security issues in Africa. The Europe Command is responsible for the largest swath of the continent: North Africa, West Africa (including the Gulf of Guinea), and central and southern Africa. The Central Command covers the Horn of Africa—including Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti, and Sudan—as well as Egypt. The Pacific Command is responsible for Madagascar, the Seychelles, and the Indian Ocean area off the African coast.

Because Africa has been subsumed under other regional commands, the continent has never been a priority for the U.S. military. “Africa has been divided up and been the poor stepchild in each of these different commands and not gotten the full attention it deserves,” Susan Rice, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Clinton administration’s assistant secretary of state for African affairs, told NPR.

The Pentagon has floated plans for a unified command for over ten years. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld convened a planning team for such a command in mid-2006, and in December, President Bush authorized its creation. The president announced the command in February 2007, stating that it “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.” Ambassador Robert G. Loftis, senior adviser in the State Department’s Bureau of Political and Military Affairs and a member of the Africa Command transition team, says the command will promote “a greater unity of effort across the government.” He notes that aid to Africa under President Bush has tripled since 2001, but “if we don’t have security in Africa, a lot of that development assistance will not be helpful.”

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