Colonel John S. Kolasheski, USA, Military Fellow, U.S. Army
U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is one of six U.S. military geographic combatant commands. It was founded in 2007 as a subcommand of U.S. European Command before reaching full operational capability in 2008. Prior to the creation of AFRICOM, three unified commands had responsibility for U.S. military operations in Africa (EUCOM for West Africa, CENTCOM for East Africa, PACOM for Indian Ocean waters and islands off the east coast of Africa). AFRICOM is commanded by U.S. Army General Carter Ham and is currently collocated with U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany—which, for the foreseeable future, is where it will remain.
AFRICOM's top four top priorities are to deter and defeat transnational threats, prevent future conflicts, support humanitarian and disaster relief efforts, and protect U.S. security interests in Africa. These priorities support the command's two guiding principles, "that a safe, secure, and stable Africa is in the United States' interests and that Africans are best suited to address African security challenges."
While there was some early discussion on where to base the command (continental United States, Africa, or Germany), its current location in Germany has the existing infrastructure, transportation links, housing, schools, and health facilities to support its personnel, employees, and family members. Additionally, collocating with U.S. European Command makes practical sense since it allows the two commands to continue a tradition of working together as they share forces, resources, and capabilities. Any future rebasing discussions will need to take into account a cost-benefit analysis—and in a time of fiscal uncertainty, the cost might be prohibitive.