AFRICOM headquarters in Africa…why not?

AFRICOM HQ building, from https://www.dabangasudan.org

The US military in Europe is in a bit of a shakeup. After years of tolerating Germany’s low military investment, President Trump announced that 12,000 troops would move out of Germany, many of them moving to Poland, which has been investing in its military. Because of the “Orange Man Bad” complex, somehow the fact that this saves us money over the long term, is part of continued investment in a country that will be purchasing more US energy resources, and places troops closer to Russia as a deterrent seems to be lost in the media. It’s a smart move economically and strategically.

The shift of forces includes moving the US European Command headquarters to Belgium and the US Africa Command headquarters to…somewhere. But not Africa, according to a few news sources. When AFRICOM stood up, placing it in Stuttgart initially made sense, since many of the staff members came from the EUCOM staff. But AFRICOM’s lack of presence in Africa isn’t smart long term. The US should be more invested in Africa, and moving AFRICOM to Africa would help that investment.

Where in Africa? The best spots are Nigeria, Morocco, Ethiopia or Liberia. Nigeria is a long-term powerhouse in Africa. Not only will it become one of the world’s most populous nations, but it has a positive view of the US and has a democratic government. Morocco was the first nation in the world to recognize the US and we’ve maintained friendly relations for most of our countries history. Ethiopia is another democratic powerhouse in Africa. Liberia, while not as developed as the other three, is still a good choice given its close history with the US.

There is some concern about “militarizing” Africa, but I contend that’s a poor argument. Did we militarize Europe by stationing troops there, or did we stop a continued trend of larger and larger wars that seemed to erupt between European powers? We’ve had a longer peace since the US stationed troops in Europe. Other nations are directly moving into Africa, and while some seem altruistic (like France), others are not aligned with the US (Russia and China). We can’t counter these large investments with minimal footprints.

There are plenty of good options for AFRICOM to be in Africa. Africa is only going to get more important in coming years. We’re either all in on Africa, or we cede that ground to China.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

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