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Bush: U.S. Plans No New Military Bases in Africa

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2008 – The United States stood up U.S. Africa Command to provide military assistance to African nations, not as a springboard to opening new military bases there, President Bush said during his visit to Ghana yesterday.

Speaking at a media availability in Accra with Ghana’s President John Kufuor, Bush emphasized that the United States has no plans to establish new bases on the continent.

“I know there's rumors in Ghana: ‘All Bush is coming to do is try to convince you to put a big military base here,’” the president said. “That's baloney. Or as we say in Texas, that's bull.”

Bush, in Ghana for the fourth stop in his five-nation African trip, sought to put the rumors to rest.

“I want to dispel the notion that, all of a sudden, America is bringing all kinds of military to Africa. It's just simply not true,” he said. “The whole purpose of AFRICOM is to help leaders deal with African problems.”

Bush directed the creation of AFRICOM in February 2007. It began initial operations in October with Army Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward as its first commander.

The command structure, with both Defense and State department representation, reflects AFRICOM’s unique mission. Ward has two deputies: Navy Vice Adm. Robert T. Moeller is deputy for military operations, and U.S. Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates is deputy for civil-military activities.

“This is a unique command structure for America,” Bush said. “It is a command structure that is aiming to help provide military assistance to African nations, so African nations are more capable of dealing with Africa's conflicts -- like peacekeeping training.”

The AFRICOM headquarters is at Kelley Barracks, in Stuttgart, Germany. The United States could eventually open an AFRICOM office somewhere in Africa, but hasn’t yet made that decision, Bush said. “We haven't made our minds up,” he told reporters. “It's a new concept.”

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