U.S. Africa Command 2007 - 2018
If you want to go farther, go together —African Proverb
For the past 10 years, U.S. Africa Command has worked by, with, and through our African partners to help establish a secure, stable, and prosperous African continent. In response to our expanding partnerships and interests on the African continent, the U.S. established USAFRICOM in 2007.
The single most important focus then, as it is today, was developing enduring partnerships. The creation of USAFRICOM has provided coherence to U.S. military efforts in support of the U.S. Strategy for Africa, enabling our nation to better focus efforts and resources on programs that make the most difference.
Much of what USAFRICOM has built is based on partnerships--with African nations and African regional organizations, with our allies in Europe and elsewhere, with multiple agencies and departments of the U.S. government, with non-governmental organizations, and with international organizations. USAFRICOM is committed to a whole-of-government approach, which is why we’ve worked to advance U.S. security and prosperity by helping African nations enhance their own security through our development across many sectors including governance and economic development for the past ten years.
As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we at USAFRICOM are proud of what we have accomplished and are excited to continue working by, with and through our African partners, continuing our journey of going further, together.”
For more information, read the U.S. Africa Command: The First Ten Years history book.
On February 6, 2007, U.S. President George W. Bush directed the creation of United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM). The decision was the culmination of several years of deliberation within the Department of Defense acknowledging the growing strategic importance of Africa. The new command would ensure the Department of Defense harmonized its efforts in Africa with those of U.S. Department of State as well as other U.S. governmental agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, Justice, and Homeland Security. The U.S. government anticipated that USAFRICOM would evolve and look different in the future as it gained better understanding through its work with others. The new command assumed responsibility for U.S. military activities in areas that had been part of three geographical commands previously and now included all of Africa except Egypt. USAFRICOM was chartered to conduct sustained security engagement to promote a stable and secure political environment in Africa in support of U.S. foreign policy.
Following the decision by President George W. Bush to establish a command to oversee all U.S. military activities in Africa, USAFRICOM began to organize as a sub-unified command of U.S. European Command. The reduction of U.S. military forces stationed in Europe made space available for a headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. U.S. European, Central, and Pacific Commands (which previously held this responsibility for different parts of the continent) transferred their missions to USAFRICOM. Because of the relationship between security, development, and diplomacy, the designers of the new command included management and staff members from the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of Treasury, and other U.S. government agencies involved in Africa.
On Oct. 1, USAFRICOM became a full-fledged command. Service components aligned under USAFRICOM (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) provided the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines to perform missions the new command assigned to them. Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, established in 2002, also transferred to USAFRICOM and continued its mission to strengthen the operational and institutional capabilities of East African partner nation militaries from a forward operating site in Djibouti.
The U.S. government announced the creation of USAFRICOM abruptly, and the first leaders of the new command engaged with African officials to allay their concerns. Offices of Security Cooperation increased from 9 to 40. By 2015 the number of Defense Attachés increased to better manage security cooperation programs in Africa.
While Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa began to support international efforts to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, USAFRICOM continued other maritime activities the United States had started before the creation of the new command. U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa facilitated exercises and security cooperation programs designed to improve maritime safety and security in Africa, especially in the Gulf of Guinea.
Through the USAFRICOM joint exercise program, U.S. forces continued to train with partner nations to increase the capability of African defense institutions to address regional security challenges. The ACCORD series, for example, focused on countries contributing forces to United Nations and African Union peace support operations, in which African forces increasingly shouldered the burden. The exercise program evolved under USAFRICOM. Events become fewer in number and more regional in focus, and host nations welcomed the participation of an ever-larger number of countries and international organizations. All participants benefited. The ongoing series of Medical Readiness Training Exercises allowed U.S. personnel, for example, to work with African medical professionals in remote areas.
U.S. military personnel deployed to central Africa to serve as advisors to forces of the African Union Regional Task Force, which worked to defeat Joseph Kony and other senior Lord’s Resistance Army leaders. The operation continued for several years in order to protect local populations. The U.S. also intervened to protect civilians in Libya. Because it was established primarily to focus on engagement and security assistance, USAFRICOM had few assigned forces to conduct operations in Libya. USAFRICOM therefore relied heavily on U.S. European Command and other commands for the necessary resources to carry out a non-combatant evacuation and military operations in cooperation with European allies and other partners.
Following the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya, USAFRICOM positioned additional personnel in Europe and Djibouti to respond to future crises. The East African Response Force and Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Africa rehearsed these operations regularly. In times of crisis, elements of these units deployed to Africa to enhance the security of a U.S. Embassy, or if necessary to assist with the departure of citizens and non-emergency staff.
In 2012 USAFRICOM also established a Women, Peace, and Security Working Group, which conducted seminars about the importance of recruitment, retention, and training of military women, as well as protecting civilians during peacekeeping operations.
The United States recognized the Federal Government of Somalia in January 2013 and resumed military-to-military engagement with Somali security forces. USAFRICOM continued to counter the terrorist threat posed by al-Qaida and al-Shabaab through direct military operations as well as by assisting troop contributing countries prepare their forces for deployment to the African Union Mission in Somalia. U.S. military personnel also deployed to support international stabilization missions in Mali.
In the largest contingency operation it has led, USAFRICOM assisted USAID in responding to an Ebola outbreak in West Africa. USAFRICOM established Joint Force Command – United Assistance to provide logistics and engineering support, as well as to train health care workers. Liberia’s military worked effectively with U.S. forces, demonstrating the success of a multi-year program to rebuild the Armed Forces of Liberia. USAFRICOM also worked with countries in the region to improve their capacity to respond to future epidemics.
The new programs President Barack Obama had announced in 2014, the Counter-Terrorism Partnerships Fund, African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership, and Security Governance Initiative, ensured USAFRICOM had resources available to help partner nations combat terrorism within their borders and to improve their ability to deploy forces in support of United Nations peacekeeping and African Union peace support missions. The United States also provided defense equipment and services, as well as military education and training, to support the efforts of Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria to defeat Boko Haram through the Lake Chad Basin Commission’s Multi-National Joint Task Force. The State Partnership Program also expanded. USAFRICOM paired a U.S. National Guard organization with an African country in an enduring relationship designed to improve defense institutions’ ability to provide security, respond to disasters, and manage crises.
In cooperation with the Libyan Government of National Accord, USAFRICOM conducted nearly 500 precision airstrikes to help Libyan forces drive Islamic State (Daesh) terrorists from Sirte. The United States remained committed to working with Libya and other partners to counter the evolving threat of violent extremists in North Africa.
In other engagements, USAFRICOM continued to facilitate discussions among the United States, several African nations and other interested countries, the African Union, the European Union, and the United Nations on improving logistics at the Africa Logistics Forum in Accra, Ghana.
More than 2,000 military personnel from 24 African and other nations participated in the tenth annual Exercise Flintlock. African special operations forces and Special Operations Command Africa jointly planned and conducted the event, which was designed to strengthen security institutions, promote multilateral sharing of information, and develop interoperability among counter-terrorism partners.
Through its programs and exercises the command in cooperation with its partners continued its mission to disrupt and neutralize transnational threats, protect U.S. personnel and facilities, prevent and mitigate conflict, and build defense capability in order to promote regional stability and prosperity.
Military and diplomatic engagements were essential to the United States’ military strategy in Africa. Although the U.S. military had worked with African nations through American embassies and the U.S. European, Central, and Pacific Commands prior to 2008, the creation of a new Command for Africa was controversial. The first USAFRICOM Commander, General William E. “Kip” Ward, traveled widely in Africa to explain the purpose of the new organization and allay concerns. Subsequent Commanders and senior officials of USAFRICOM continued to meet with senior African political and military leaders to discuss U.S. military activities. The number of Defense Attachés and Offices of Security Cooperation working at United States embassies in Africa increased in order to better align security assistance with U.S. diplomatic and African goals.
USAFRICOM worked closely with American diplomats and development officials to ensure military, diplomatic, and development programs worked in harmony toward U.S. national goals. It is also important to note that the response forces assigned to U.S. Africa Command to protect United States personnel and facilities allowed the United States to maintain a diplomatic presence in countries experiencing violence and instability
The core mission of U.S. Africa Command remained to help African nations and regional organizations build capable and professional militaries that respect human rights, adhere to the rule of law, and contribute more effectively to stability in Africa. The primary tools for implementing this strategy were military-to-military engagements, security cooperation programs, exercises, and operations. USAFRICOM employed more than 20 distinct U.S. government programs totaling over 500 million dollars annually to support U.S. policy goals. Most of these programs required both military and diplomatic approval, so USAFRICOM worked closely with the U.S. Embassy in each country through defense attachés, offices of security cooperation, and with the country receiving the assistance.
- Support to Peacekeeping Operations
- Africa Partnership Station
- African Union Mission in Somalia
- African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP)
- Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (DHAPP)
- Operation Observant Compass (ended 2017)
- Counter-Boko Haram
- Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA)
- Africa Deployment Assistance Partnership Team (ADAPT)
- Counter-IED Training
- Foreign Military Sales
- International Military Education and Training
- Counter Narcotics
- Counter-Illicit Trafficking
- Medical Engagement
- National Guard State Partnership Program
- Pandemic Response Program
- Partnership for Integrated Logistics Operations and Tactics (PILOT)
- Pandemic Response Program
- West Africa Disaster Preparedness Initiative
- Veterinary Civil Action Program
Through United States Africa Command-sponsored exercises, United States military forces improved interoperability with African and European partner forces. The training validated that security cooperation programs had improved the effectiveness of African military forces. The exercises were divided into series. The Accord series, for example, prepared forces for peacekeeping operations. The number of exercises declined, but the number of participants increased. By 2016 participants included 41 African nations, 22 non-African nations, and 8 international and regional organizations. Exercises increasingly tested decision-making at the operational level rather than simply tactical proficiency.
A fundamental part of the mission of United States Africa Command was to respond to crises. In the first decade of the command’s history, it conducted contingency operations in Africa to protect civilians and defeat terrorist threats in Libya, support African Union operations in Somalia, Central Africa, and the Lake Chad Basin, and responded to the largest Ebola outbreak in recorded history. An enduring task was to protect United States embassies and citizens in the region.