WHAT WE DO
AFRICOM Mission Statement
Africa Command protects and defends the national security interests of the United States by strengthening the defense capabilities of African states and regional organizations and, when directed, conducts military operations, in order to deter and defeat transnational threats and to provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development.
Our purpose is twofold: 1) to protect the U.S. homeland, American citizens abroad, and our national interests from transnational threats emanating from Africa; and 2) through sustained engagement, to enable our African partners to create a security environment that promotes stability, improved governance, and continued development. Should preventive or enabling efforts fail, we must always be prepared to prevail against any individual or organization that poses a threat to the United States, our national interests, or our allies and partners.
Africa Command’s activities, plans, and operations are centered on two guiding principles:
• A safe, secure, and stable Africa is in our national interest.
• Over the long run, it will be Africans who will best be able to address African security challenges and that AFRICOM most effectively advances U.S. security interests through focused security engagement with our African partners.
Our most important military tasks
- Deter or defeat al-Qa'ida and other violent extremist organizations operating in Africa and deny them safe haven.
Strengthen the defense capabilities of key African states and regional partners.
- Through enduring and tailored engagement, help them build defense institutions and military forces that are capable, sustainable, subordinate to civilian authority, respectful of the rule of law, and committed to the well-being of their fellow citizens.
- Increase the capacity of key states to contribute to regional and international military activities aimed at preserving peace and combating transnational threats to security.
- Ensure U.S. access to and through Africa in support of global requirements.
- Be prepared, as part of a whole of government approach, to help protect Africans from mass atrocities. The most effective way in which we do this is through our sustained engagement with African militaries.
- When directed, provide military support to humanitarian assistance efforts.
U.S. Africa Command most effectively advances U.S. national security interests through focused, sustained engagement with partners in support of our shared security objectives. The command's operations, exercises, and security cooperation assistance programs support U.S. Government foreign policy and do so primarily through military-to-military activities and assistance programs. These activities build strong, enduring partnerships with African nations, regional and international organizations, such as ECOWAS and the African Union, and other states that are committed to improving security in Africa.
Our core mission of assisting African states and regional organizations to strengthen their defense capabilities better enables Africans to address their security threats and reduces threats to U.S. interests. We concentrate our efforts on contributing to the development of capable and professional militaries that respect human rights, adhere to the rule of law, and more effectively contribute to stability in Africa.
Our work is guided by the U.S. National Security Strategy, the National Military Strategy, and others such as the Presidential Policy Directive for Sub-Saharan Africa and the U.S. Defense Strategic Guidance. As part of a comprehensive approach to complex security challenges in Africa, AFRICOM works closely with African, U.S. interagency, and international partners to develop capabilities necessary to ensure Africans are best able to address regional security challenges.
Operations are conducted in close cooperation with other U.S. government agencies, African partners, allies, and other international and intergovernmental organizations. In most operations, Africa Command plays a supporting role, such as in Operation ONWARD LIBERTY in Liberia, which supports U.S. Security Sector Reform efforts by mentoring and advising the Armed Forces of Liberia, or Operation OBSERVANT COMPASS, the U.S. military advise and assist mission to better enable African militaries of the region to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army. In other cases the command will lead, such as Operation ODYSSEY DAWN, the air campaign over Libya in March 19-31, 2011. In all cases, operations are executed as part of a whole of U.S. government approach to achieve U.S. national objectives.
U.S. Africa Command sponsored exercises enhance AFRICOM, partner, and allied capability and inter-operability, and encourage the development of partner security capabilities and the instilling of professional ethos among African military elements. U.S. military forces serve as examples of military professionalism and U.S. core national values during the command’s joint exercises.
For example, Exercise FLINTLOCK is an annual exercise training small units of Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership nations in North and West Africa. Exercise AFRICA ENDEAVOR is a communications exercise focusing on interoperability and information sharing among African partners with the goal of developing command, control, and communication tactics, techniques, and procedures that can be used by the African Union in support of peacekeeping operations.
Exercise CUTLASS EXPRESS is an East African maritime exercise addressing counter-piracy, counter-narcotics and illegal fishing, focusing on information sharing and coordinated operations among international navies.
Security Cooperation Programs
AFRICOM’s Theater Security Cooperation programs (TSCP) remain the cornerstone of our sustained security engagement with African partners, are focused on building operational and institutional capacity and developing human capital, and provide a framework within which the command engages with regional partners in cooperative military activities and development.
These activities complement and reinforce other U.S. government agency programs, such as the Department of State-led and funded Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program. This initiative is designed to improve African militaries’ capabilities by providing selected training and equipment necessary for multinational peace support operations. U.S. Africa Command supports the ACOTA program by providing military mentors, trainers, and advisors at the request of State Department. ACOTA has been a key enabler of successful Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) operations.
In the maritime arena, Africa Partnership Station (APS) is U.S. Naval Forces Africa’s (NAVAF) flagship maritime security cooperation program. The focus of APS is to build maritime safety and security by increasing maritime awareness, response capabilities and infrastructure. Through APS, U.S. Africa Command and NAVAF conduct engagement activities with international partners and governmental/non-governmental organizations to enhance African partner nations’ self sustaining capability to effectively maintain maritime security within their inland waterways, territorial waters, and exclusive economic zones. APS provides sustained engagement using mobile training teams, interagency, and international trainers, working from U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and international partner nations’ vessels. Last year, APS began the construct of “training African trainers” to enable African maritime forces to provide the same level of instruction without U.S. personnel.
Conditions for success of our security cooperation programs and activities on the continent are established through hundreds of engagements supporting a wide range of activities, such as familiarization of fundamental military skills, education and professional development, humanitarian assistance such as HIV/AIDS prevention, counternarcotics assistance, and foreign military financing.
During many of his public addresses, General Carter Ham, former Commander of U.S. Africa Command, clearly stated that military engagement combined with efforts of government agencies, African partners, and other nations can have a positive impact on overall security. “Increasingly, as a result of our contributions, African partner nations are addressing important security issues in Africa now more than ever. As part of a broader U.S. whole of government approach, AFRICOM’s operations, exercises and engagements have resulted in strengthened African partner nation capabilities and improved cooperation among African nations, the African Union, and its regional economic organizations.”
These capacity building activities complement Department of State programs and are planned with the U.S. embassy country teams and partner nations. We focus on the development of professional militaries which are disciplined, capable, and responsible to civilian authorities and committed to the well being of their citizens and protecting human rights. Our efforts focus on increasing the capability and capacity of African partner nations to serve as trained, equipped agents of stability and security on the African continent.
In sum, the weight of AFRICOM’s effort is focused on building partner capacity and develops and conducts its activities to enhance safety, security and stability in Africa. Our strategy entails an effective and efficient application of our allocated resources, and collaboration with other U.S. Government agencies, African partners, international organizations and others in addressing the most pressing security challenges in an important region of the world.