Africa Com­mand Head­quar­ters to Remain in Stuttgart

By John J. Kruzel
Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2008 — U.S. Africa Command’s head­quar­ters will remain in its cur­rent loca­tion in Stuttgart, Ger­many, for the fore­see­able future, a Pen­ta­gon spokesman said today.

The deci­sion by Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates allows the newest uni­fied com­mand to gain greater oper­a­tional expe­ri­ence and devel­op and fos­ter rela­tion­ships with both African and Euro­pean part­ners, Bryan Whit­man said.

“We cer­tain­ly looked at a num­ber of alter­na­tives,” Whit­man said. “But at the end of the day, it was deter­mined that for now, and into the fore­see­able future, the best loca­tion was for it to remain in its cur­rent head­quar­ters.”

AfriCom, which became oper­a­tional this month, even­tu­al­ly will be com­posed of some 1,300 per­son­nel. About half will be mem­bers of the U.S. mil­i­tary, with the oth­er half from civil­ian agen­cies such as the depart­ments of State, Com­merce, Home­land Secu­ri­ty and Trea­sury, among oth­ers, said Eric Elliott, an AfriCom spokesman.

“Our pri­ma­ry focus is on mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary pro­grams,” said Elliott, describ­ing AfriCom’s mis­sion. “[It’s] build­ing part­ner­ship capac­i­ty, defense capac­i­ty, secu­ri­ty capa­bil­i­ties with our African part­ners.”

Whit­man said that the deci­sion to keep the head­quar­ters in exist­ing facil­i­ties at Kel­ley Bar­racks in Stuttgart will not have any spe­cif­ic, unan­tic­i­pat­ed impact as AfriCom con­tin­ues to devel­op and add staff mem­bers.

“When­ev­er you’re embark­ing on build­ing an enter­prise such as a new com­bat­ant com­mand, ensur­ing that all the part­ners in the region under­stand the pur­pose and the intent and how the com­mand is designed to devel­op and fos­ter rela­tion­ships with these friend­ly nations is impor­tant,” he added.

Echo­ing com­ments by Army Gen. William “Kip” Ward, AfriCom com­man­der, Elliott not­ed that Stuttgart shares the same time zone, which affords easy com­mu­ni­ca­tion with part­ners in Africa, and its prox­im­i­ty allows for easy air trav­el to and from the con­ti­nent.

In addi­tion, the com­mand has inher­it­ed from the three region­al com­mands that pre­vi­ous­ly coor­di­nat­ed U.S. mil­i­tary activ­i­ties in Africa a “small, but mean­ing­ful, U.S. mil­i­tary pres­ence in sev­er­al African nations,” accord­ing to a Defense Depart­ment infor­ma­tion sheet. This includes Camp Lemonier in Dji­bouti, as well as depart­ment per­son­nel assigned to U.S. embassies and diplo­mat­ic mis­sions to coor­di­nate Defense Depart­ment pro­grams in sup­port of U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy.

Locat­ing a com­mand head­quar­ters out­side its area of oper­a­tions is not an unprece­dent­ed move, as U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand, which over­sees the Mid­dle East, has its head­quar­ters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tam­pa, Fla., and the head­quar­ters for U.S. South­ern Com­mand, which over­sees South Amer­i­ca, is locat­ed in Mia­mi.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)