"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 uncontrolled spaces, such as piracy and illicit trafficking. In addition, there is ongoing concern for Africa's many humanitarian crises, armed conflicts, and more general challenges, such as the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS. In 2006, Congress authorized a feasibility study on the creation of a new command for Africa to consolidate current operations and activities on the continent under one commander. Congress has closely monitored the command since its establishment. 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. Prior to AFRICOM's establishment, U.S. military involvement on the continent was divided among three commands: U.S. European Command (EUCOM), U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), and U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). The command's area of responsibility (AOR) includes all African countries except Egypt. AFRICOM was officially launched as a sub-unified command under EUCOM on October 1, 2007, and became a stand-alone command on October 1, 2008."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34003
U.S. Department of State: http://fpc.state.gov/