"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. 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. DOD signaled its intention to locate AFRICOM's headquarters on the continent early in the planning process, but such a move is unlikely to take place for several years, if at all. The command will operate from Stuttgart, Germany, for the foreseeable future. DOD has stressed that there are no plans to have a significant troop presence on the continent. The East African country of Djibouti, home to the Combined Joint Task Force--Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) at Camp Lemonnier, provides the U.S. military's only enduring infrastructure in Africa."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34003
U.S. Department of State: http://fpc.state.gov/