AFRICOM: The US Military’s Growing Role in Africa

Few people are aware of the existence of AFRICOM, at least not in the United States. AFRICOM stand for United States Africa Command, and it is part of the foreign policy legacy of former US President George W. Bush. The neocon ideology of global US empire, prevalent during the Bush era, was at play in the creation of AFRICOM. But AFRICOM is still going strong today, illustrating that the same philosophy prevails under the Obama administration.


AFRICOM’s official mission

On February 6, 2007, George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced the creation of US Africa Command. According to the Department of Defense, the decision to create AFRICOM was “the culmination of a 10-year thought process within the DOD acknowledging the emerging strategic importance of Africa, and recognizing that peace and stability on the continent impact not only Africans, but the interests of the US and the international community as well.”

The statement above, from AFRICOM’s web site, reflects a cornerstone of the neocon ideology, which advocates an expansion of the American empire under the pretense of  promoting peace and stability. Under the Obama administration, AFRICOM still tries to present itself almost as a humanitarian organization.


“The designer of US Africa Command clearly understood the relationship between security, development, diplomacy and prosperity in Africa. As a result, AFRICOM reflects a much more integrated staff structure, one that includes significant management and staff representation of the State Department, USAID, and other government agencies involved in Africa.”

In May 2008, Robert Gates approved the following mission statement for AFRICOM:

“US Africa Command, in concert with other US government agencies and international partners conducts sustained security engagements through military-to-military programs, military sponsored activities, and other military operations as directed to promote a stable and secure African environment in support of US foreign policy.”

What is the US military really doing in Africa?

The last phrase in  AFRICOM’s mission statement, approved by Secretary of Defense Gates, gives us a clue about AFRICOM’s real mission: promoting “peace and stability” for Africans is a pretext to justify the real mission, which is to defend US interests on the African continent and advance the US’ global foreign policy goals.

With the creation of AFRICOM, the Pentagon has set out to increase its access to Africa’s oil and other valuable mineral resources and to open a new front on the so-called global war on terror, without much regard for the needs and desires of African people. AFRICOM is nothing less than the latest frontier of US global military expansionism.


The three main real goals of AFRICOM are quite obvious: 1. To counter resource nationalism on African soil as part of the so-called global war on terror, 2. To take over the protection of oil resources, recognizing that the US currently purchases 24 percent of its oil from Africa, 3. To counter China’s growing influence in Africa.

Africans are expressing grave concerns over the political and economic interests behind a US military presence on the continent. An African action resource provides many examples of statements from African leaders who stand opposed to AFRICOM.



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