The United States (U.S.) Africa Command (AFRICOM) has clocked 13 years of engagement with partners on the continent, building capacity and pursuing U.S. security interests in Africa.
The U.S. established the command in 2007 after a directive from George W. Bush, the U.S. President at the time, following years of deliberation within the Department of Defense (DoD), according to a statement from AFRICOM to mark the event.
The command with headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany began fully operational on Oct. 1, 2008, with several mission components such as the U.S. Army Africa, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Africa, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, and Special Operations Command Africa.
AFRICOM carries out DoD operations, exercises, and security cooperation in Africa including counter-terrorism operations against Islamic State and Al Qaeda based terror groups in areas such as the Sahel and Somalia alongside building the capacity of the militaries of partner states through training programmes and exercises to confront a wide range of regional and national security threats including piracy.
An example of AFRICOM capacity-building efforts is the Flintlock and Obangame Express exercises attended by the Nigerian military personnel, designed to strengthen the capacity of special operations forces and Naval units.
On April 27, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, in a virtual meeting with U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, requested for the U.S. to move the Command from Germany to Africa, nearer the Theatre of Operation.
“Considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters… near the theatre of operation,” Buhari said according to a statement from the presidency.
Earlier in February, U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander visited Nigeria as part of his three-day tour of West Africa, to further partnership and security cooperation between the two nations. Townsend also participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery.
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