AFRICOM Looks to Expand Airlift Infrastructure

The Department of Defense has no plans to establish any permanent US presence on the continent of Africa at this time, outside of the forces currently stationed at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, Army Gen. William Ward, commander of US Africa Command, told reporters yesterday in Washington, D.C. However, an effort is under way to negotiate “cooperative security locations” across the continent that would serve as small logistical hubs for US airlift assets of the just-activated 17th Air Force, the air component of the new command, Ward said. “It would not be a permanent infrastructure,” he said. The CSLs would be locations where AFRICOM has standing agreements with host nations to get fuel and logistics support for aircraft as they conduct activities across the continent. Some locations already exist that would meet the command’s standards, like at Entebbe, Uganda, he noted. The locations would have a limited storage capacity, fuels infrastructure, maintenance capabilities, and some warehousing available. “We would look to enhance those where it might be suitable” if the host nations agree to it, Ward said. AFRICOM’s permanent air infrastructure will remain at Ramstein AB, Germany, but CSLs will be crucial due to the immense distance between Europe and the interior of Africa, he said. Exercising and training events would require these locations, and, due to the size of the continent, increasing the number of these sites would aid in performing missions such as humanitarian relief, Ward said. AFRICOM reached full operational status as a global unified combatant command Oct. 1. Camp Lemonier is home to Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, formerly a US Central Command-run effort that now falls under AFRICOM’s purview.