by Robert Moeller
I feel fortunate that I can say that I was present at the inception of U.S. Africa Command (Africom), the U.S. military headquarters that oversees and coordinates U.S. military activities in Africa. Starting with just a handful of people sitting around a table nearly four years ago, we built an organization dedicated to the idea that U.S. security interests in Africa are best served by building long-term partnerships with African nations, regional organizations, and the African Union. At the same time, however, there has been a great deal of speculation and concern about Africom. We believe our work and accomplishments will continue to speak for themselves.
Still, many of these concerns raise important issues, and it is important to continue to address and clarify Africom's position on these issues. There is great work being done by and for Africa nations with Africom's assistance, and the success of the missions between these partner nations inevitably affects the security of the United States and the world as a whole. During our work in designing Africom and helping guide it through the early years of its existence, a number of lessons have helped inform our decisions and ensure we performed our job responsibly and effectively.
Lesson 1: Africom does not create policy.
One of the most serious criticisms leveled at Africom is that the organization represents a U.S. military takeover of the foreign-policy process. This is certainly not true, though I suspect some of our more outspoken critics have been so vocal about this that it is quite challenging for them to change course.