Strengthening AFRICOM's Case
March 5, 2008
Over the past six months, the CSIS Africa and International Security Programs have closely tracked the development of U.S. Africa Command by interviewing key U.S. government officials, consulting expert opinion in the United States and internationally, and canvassing views from Africa. We had the opportunity to visit in late September 2007 with the AFRICOM transition team in Stuttgart, Germany, and have before and after that visit sustained a regular dialogue in Washington with visiting AFRICOM officials, other relevant administration and congressional players, and African experts.
The creation of a robust command dedicated to Africa can achieve substantial diplomatic and security results for both the United States and African nations. At the same time, there are policy difficulties and bureaucratic and operational obstacles that must be surmounted in order for this command to succeed in its delicate first year and beyond.
On March 11 and 13, General ‘Kip’ Ward, Commander of U.S. Africa Command, will present before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, respectively, the first free-standing posture statement on the U.S. security strategy for Africa. It is an historic moment. We believe the long-term answer to AFRICOM’s critics rests less on improved “strategic communications” and more upon actual performance. Performance will be measured not only by how well AFRICOM executes its missions but, more importantly, by how carefully missions are selected and defined at the outset.