31 August 2012

Tanzania: Africom Says No Plans for African Base

Garmisch — THE US Africa Command (Africom) has assured that there are no immediate plans to establish its headquarters on the continent and has instead called for improvement in regional cooperation among African armies.

US Africom Commander, General Carter Ham, told a symposium on Wednesday that they are well served by the headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany and that there were also financial issues involved in relocation.

"Today there are no plans to move the headquarters to the continent. We have a huge presence in Djibouti and I don't think a large military agreement is needed in Africa. I am very satisfied with the agreement that we have today," he said.

There has been mounting speculation that the US army intends to establish a base for its Africa command on the continent, with some expressing fear that America plans a military takeover in Africa. According to General Ham, there has been a lot of discussion about where the headquarters should be and the decision was made that it was probably best to have the headquarters in Stuttgart.

There have been African countries that have shown willingness to talk about hosting the base, while at the same time some have been against the idea of having a base on the continent, he said. Among the challenges the command faces, he noted, is the need for improvement in the area of regional cooperation in the command's relationship with African militaries.

On terrorism, General Ham observed that no one country can successfully combat terrorism, thus the need for cooperation. "Terrorism is the most significant threat today and we do worry that terrorists may have the ability of operating beyond Africa," he said.

The commander further said that Mali is the most significant security challenge today, hinting that once the coup occurred US law forced them to cease all military engagement with the country. He said that the biggest question at the moment is how Mali will be able to restore a legitimate government which in turn will take back the parts of the country occupied by rebels.

The General also commended the African Union (AU) forces in Somalia (AMISOM) for the great job they were doing and the gains they are making in the fight against Al-Shabaab.

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