U.S. Africa Command Marks Startup of Initial Operations
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2007 The new U.S. military organization responsible for operations across Africa marked the startup of its initial operations yesterday, according to a U.S. Africa Command news release.
The command’s leader, Army Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward, announced in the release that his organization has reached “initial operating capacity,” to begin functioning as the Pentagon’s newest regional headquarters.
Nominated by President Bush in July, Ward was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Sept. 28 as AFRICOM’s first commander.
For now, AFRICOM will be co-located with U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. Plans are for AFRICOM to be fully established as a separate unified command by Sept. 30, 2008. Plans are to eventually base the command’s headquarters somewhere in Africa.
The new command eventually will be responsible for U.S. military relations with 53 African countries, according to the news release. AFRICOM will consolidate efforts previously conducted by EUCOM, U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Central Command.
AFRICOM currently has a core staff of 120 members that will grow during the coming year to become the new unified command’s headquarters element, officials said.
The new command’s headquarters structure will incorporate input from across the U.S. government. In addition to military members and Defense Department civilians, AFRICOM’s roster will contain representatives from the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Some regions of Africa have experienced decades of violence and civil strife. AFRICOM was created to work with Africans to bring peace and security to their continent, officials said.
Ward noted in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in September that AFRICOM would seek to partner with African nations to assist them in solving pressing issues.
“I see the establishment of AFRICOM as a wonderful opportunity to efficiently and effectively apply the elements of U.S. national power in ways that help the Africans develop and implement their solutions to African concerns,” Ward said in written response to questions raised by the senators.