The United States has rejected calls that it should relocate its Africa Command from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other part of this continent.
The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) is one of the 11 unified combatant commands of the US Department of Defence, headquartered at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany.
The command partners, counters transnational threats and malign actors, strengthens security forces, and responds to crises in order to advance US national interests and promote regional security, stability, and prosperity.
Muhammadu Buhari at a virtual meeting with US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, on April 27, 2021, had, in addition to requesting US military assistance in the war against Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), asked for the relocation of AFRICOM headquarters to Africa.
Buhari had told Blinken during the meeting that:
The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.
Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.
The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.
In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.
But, in an emailed response to The PUNCH, Pentagon, the headquarters of US Department of Defence, Pentagon ruled out any plan to relocate AFRICOM from its current base in Germany.
The US government rejected the request due to the cost of such relocation from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any part of Africa.
Pentagon stated that previous studies have shown that the cost of relocating AFRICOM from Germany to Africa is very huge.
US Pentagon spokesperson, Ms Cindi King, said:
It would be inappropriate to speculate on any future actions. However, at this time, moving this headquarters (AFRICOM HQ) to Africa is not part of any plans. But USAFRICOM’s commitment to their mission, our African and other partners, remains as strong today as when we launched this command more than a decade ago.
King also ruled out any plan to consider Buhari’s request in an ongoing global US defence review, saying:
Although there is an ongoing Global Posture Review, the relocation of Combatant Command headquarters is outside the scope of its assessment. In the case of AFRICOM, previous studies have concluded that the cost associated with the relocation of this headquarters is significant and likely to incur the expense of other engagement opportunities and activities that more directly benefit our valued African partners.
We greatly value the partnership with Nigeria and appreciate President Buhari’s recognition of the United States’ positive contribution to African peace and security, as well as other regional partners that have made similar past pronouncements. The United States remains committed to continuing our close partnership with African countries and organisations to promote security and stability.