The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) will relocate its headquarters and forces out of Germany following a directive issued by U.S. President Donald Trump.
AFRICOM’s headquarters have been stationed in the German city of Stuttgart since its establishment in 2008.
Last week, Defense Secretary Mike Esper announced that U.S. forces will leave Germany honouring a pledge by Trump to cut the number of troops in the European nation. While Esper said that the move was a strategic realignment of forces to counter Russia, Trump maintained that it was because Germany was not spending enough on defence.
In a statement released last week, AFRICOM said that it will first assess options elsewhere in Europe, but also it will consider options in the United States. A move to Africa is not being considered.
AFRICOM commander U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend said that the process to find viable areas to consider for relocation will be a lengthy one.
“U.S. Africa Command has been told to plan to move. While it will likely take several months to develop options, consider locations, and come to a decision, the command has started the process. We will ensure we continue to support our host nation and African partners and our families and forces throughout,” Townsend said.
Townsend added that the Command remained will continue to stand with its partners in Africa despite the enforced changes.
“It is important our African partners understand our commitment to them remains strong. U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with our African and other partners to address mutual interests.”
“We are very grateful to Germany for their partnership and serving as host to Headquarters U.S. Africa Command. International cooperation remains important to addressing mutual security challenges, especially in Africa,” Townsend added.
African governments have long held concerns about hosting AFRICOM headquarters as a possible indication that the United States was militarising its relations with Africa.
AFRICOM oversees all United States military operations, exercises, security cooperation, and conducts crisis response in Africa with the aim of advancing the United States’ interests and promoting regional security, stability, and prosperity.
AFRICOM has been instrumental in cooperating with the Federal Government of Somalia in disrupting the operations and degrading the capabilities of militant group Al-Shabaab in Somalia.