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.