Stuttgart, at Least for Now

The Pentagon said yesterday Stuttgart, Germany, will remain for now the headquarters location of US Africa Command, apparently squashing the hopes of communities on the US East Coast hoping to attract the mission. “We certainly looked at a number of alternatives,” said Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman in a meeting with reporters. He continued, “But, at the end of the day, it was determined that for now, and into the foreseeable future, the best location was for it to remain in its current headquarters.” AFRICOM, which became a unified command Oct. 1, has been using former facilities of US European Command at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart as its HQ. While the command intends to be heavily engaged with partner nations in capacity-building activities on the African continent, it does not intend to establish a large, permanent presence there. Whitman’s comment’s that there is no rush to vacate Kelley came as a Georgia Congressional delegation began lobbying Defense Secretary Robert Gates to consider bases in their state to host the new command. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) and Rep. Tom Price (R), for example, sent Gates a letter Oct. 29, asking him to consider facilities in Marietta, including those at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. And, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported yesterday that Gingrey and Price had joined Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R), Sen. Johnny Isakson, and Rep, Jack Kingston in drafting another missive urging Gates to select Dobbins, Ft. McPheerson, or Ft. Gillem as the HQ. That letter was still collecting all of the signatures as of yesterday, according to Chambliss’ spokeswoman. Having a headquarters outside of a command’s area of operations is not unprecedented, as US Central Command and US Southern Command do in Tampa and Miami, respectively. (Includes AFPS report by John Kruzel)