Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa [July 22, 2011] [open pdf - 471KB]
"In recent years, analysts and U.S. policymakers have noted Africa's growing strategic importance to U.S. interests. Among those interests are the increasing importance of Africa's natural resources, particularly energy resources, and mounting concern over violent extremist activities and other potential threats posed by under-governed spaces, such as maritime piracy and illicit trafficking. [...] On February 6, 2007, the Bush Administration announced the creation of a new unified combatant command, U.S. Africa Command or AFRICOM, to promote U.S. national security objectives in Africa and its surrounding waters. [...] As envisioned by the Department of Defense (DOD), AFRICOM aims to promote U.S. strategic objectives and protect U.S. interests in the region by working with African states and regional organizations to help strengthen their defense capabilities so that they are better able to contribute to regional stability and security. AFRICOM also has a mandate to conduct military operations, if so directed by national command authorities. [...] The 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa and more recent attacks have highlighted the threat of terrorism to U.S. interests on the continent. Political instability and civil wars have created vast under-governed spaces, areas in which some experts allege that terrorist groups may train and operate. The upsurge in piracy in the waters off the Horn of Africa has been directly attributed to ongoing instability in Somalia. Instability also heightens human suffering and retards economic development, which may in turn threaten U.S. economic interests. Africa's exports of crude oil to the United States are now roughly equal to those of the Middle East, further emphasizing the continent's strategic importance. This report provides a broad overview of U.S. strategic interests in Africa and the role of U.S. military efforts on the continent as they pertain to the creation of AFRICOM. A discussion of AFRICOM's mission, its coordination with other government agencies, and its basing and manpower requirements is included."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34003