AFRICOM Evolving

Pentagon policy chief, Ryan Henry, and friends from the State Department and USAID for Africa, briefed reporters April 23 on their discussions with officials in several African countries about the new Africa Command. According to Henry, the visit to Africa enabled the US representatives to clear up some misunderstandings—no increased US troop presence and no “dramatic increase” in US resources to the African continent—and to engage in some “generally positive and very cordial” dialogue. Henry says that, while many details are still being worked out, there is no intent for AFRICOM to be an operational or combatant command; rather it will serve primarily to enhance security cooperation and build partnership capability. Unique among unified commands, it will have a civilian State Department official as “a deputy commander.” Henry emphasized “a deputy” because he said the civilian would not assume military chain of command responsibility. So, AFRICOM could have more than one deputy commander. The Pentagon plans to locate the headquarters on the African continent, but the details of size and specific location are still open.