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Creating Staff, not Finding Location, is AFRICOM's Goal, Deputy Says
U.S. Africa Command is focused on creating a staff of specialists to develop long-term relationships with African militaries, not on establishing presence on the African continent or responding to immediate crises, AFRICOM's civilian deputy
U.S. Africa Command is focused on creating a staff of specialists to develop long-term relationships with African militaries, not on establishing presence on the African continent or responding to immediate crises, AFRICOM's civilian deputy told reporters.

Officials from U.S. Africa Command are actively consulting with African regional organizations and nations, Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates said in a December 5 press roundtable at the State Department's Foreign Press Center in New York. Yates is deputy to the commander for civil-military activities. Yates spoke to reporters shortly after she and her co-deputy, Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller, returned from visits to Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Djibouti.

Consultations with U.S. Defense Department and other U.S. officials have primarily focused on explaining Africa Command, not on discussing the command's presence or headquarters location, Yates said.

For now, Africa Command is building its staff at an existing U.S. military office facility in Germany. If, at a later date, consultations lead to invitations, the idea "would be to have some sort of regional hub or offices," Yates said. She emphasized that Africa Command's staff will seek offices, not a military garrison.

Also, African Command's mission is not to respond to any current crisis in Africa, Yates said. Rather, the command has a long-term mission of continuing the U.S. military's ongoing work with African militaries, to promote regional stability so that economic and political development can continue.

"This is an effort to reorganize within the [Defense] Department so we can be more effective in our engagements," Yates told reporters. "That said, it is not being stood up as a separate command to respond to any set or immediate crises, because I think what we have learned is sustained engagement, sustained engagement with African militaries, listening to what their priorities are -- is what we want to be doing."

U.S. Africa Command also has no goal to intervene in local security problems, Yates said. "[T]hat is what the African Union has decided it will stand up and have the standby forces" to undertake regional security missions. "So our goal will be to work with the institutions that the African nations have decided to help in issues like that," Yates said.

"We have no plans or intention to work with militaries of repressive regimes," Yates added.

"[T]hose of us who have lived in Africa have seen great developments, and I think the militaries on the continent who have supplied peacekeepers are to be admired, I mean both in Darfur, in Somalia and the African peacekeeper who go out of Africa to other places in the world," Yates said. " -- [W]hat we're doing is trying to capitalize on the militaries who want to be professional soldiers and understand the respect for civilian authority."

The full transcript of Yate's news conference is posted on the U.S. Africa Command site at the following link:
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