Washington, D.C. — The U.S. military will establish a separate U.S. Africa Command to oversee military operations on the African continent, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced during Congressional testimony today.
"The president has decided to stand-up a new unified, combatant command, Africa Command, to oversee security cooperation, building partnership capability, defense support to non-military missions, and, if directed, military operations on the African continent," Gates said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The command will enable the U.S. military to have a more effective and integrated approach than the current command setup, Gates said.
Responsibility for operations on the African continent is currently divided among three combatant commands: U.S. European Command, which has responsibility for most of the nations in the African mainland except in the Horn of Africa; U.S. Central Command, which has responsibility for Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya; and U.S. Pacific Command, which has responsibility for Madagascar, the Seychelles and the Indian Ocean area off the African coast.
Gates called this arrangement an "outdated arrangement left over from the Cold War."
He added that DoD will consult closely with Congress and European and African allies to implement the effort.