GAO: Re-Examine AFRICOM’s Permanent Headquarters Location

The Defense Department did not base its decision in January to keep US Africa Command’s headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, on a comprehensive and well-documented analysis that balanced the operational and cost benefits of the various beddown options, according to Government Accountability Office auditors. Until that is done, “the department may be missing an opportunity to accomplish its missions successfully at a lower cost,” they wrote in GAO’s new report, issued on Sept 9. When DOD made the decision, it acknowledged that maintaining AFRICOM’s headquarters in Germany would cost up to $70 million more annually than having it in the United States, but would be “more operationally effective,” according to the report. However, DOD did not explain why the operational factors outweighed the cost savings and economic benefits of bringing the headquarters to the United States, said the auditors. For example, having a small, forward-deployed HQ element in the African theater—a similar approach that Florida-based US Central Command and US Southern Command use with their respective area of responsibilities—might mitigate operational concerns, said the auditors.