The United States has said there is no plan to relocate its Africa Command from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other part of Africa despite the worsening state of insecurity in the region.
The US gave the response barely two weeks after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), appealed to the US government to consider relocating AFRICOM to Africa to assist Nigeria and other adjoining countries to combat worsening terrorism, banditry and other security crises.
Political thugs butchered my worker, dumped his body in casket –Lagos chairmanship aspirantThe President made the plea in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on April 27.Germany-based Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the US military headquarters that oversees its operations in Africa.
Buhari’s request followed a series of recent military casualties in Nigeria’s decade-long fight against Boko Haram terrorists, fresh expansion of the insurgents’ bases to Niger and Nasarawa States, and heavy waves of abductions and killings by bandits in the North.Buhari said,
“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.
”However, the US government on Thursday ruled out any plan to relocate AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any part of Africa.According to the United States Department of Defence’ Pentagon, previous studies have shown that the cost of relocating AFRICOM from Germany to Africa is very huge.
The Pentagon said although it would continue to value Nigeria and other countries in Africa as important partners, the American government would not consider relocating AFRICOM to any part of the African continent at the moment.
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,” US Pentagon spokesperson, Ms Cindi King, said. King also ruled out any plan to consider Buhari’s request in an ongoing global US defence review.She said,
“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 organisation Page, who was previously with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, further said, “I am sure the Biden administration was puzzled by President Buhari’s invitation, given that Nigeria has been a reluctant and difficult security partner for the United States.
The Nigerian Army has long viewed US military engagement in West Africa with deep suspicion, shunning deeper ties and ignoring Washington’s calls for security sector reform and human rights improvements. Inviting AFRICOM to relocate to Nigeria is the equivalent of proposing marriage before going on a first date.
”Nigeria, other African leaders must take responsibility for citizens’ security –ExpertHowever, a counter-terrorism expert and Senior Researcher for the Lake Chad Basin Programme at the Institute for Security Studies, Dakar, Senegal, Dr Akinola Olojo, has said that Buhari and other African leaders must take responsibility for the security of their citizens, noting that the entire burden cannot be pushed on foreign countries.
He spoke against a backdrop of Nigeria and African countries getting US help in the fight against terrorists and other criminals in the region.Olojo said, “
The relocation of the United States Africa Command from Germany to Africa would depend on a number of factors anchored on the foreign policy priorities of the US in the current period. Beyond this, however, is the need for Nigeria (and African countries) to be sincere with a self-interrogation regarding whether the relocation of an external entity such as AFRICOM will address Africa’s challenges of insecurity.
“The ultimate burden of responsibility for ensuring the human security of African citizens lies on the leadership or governments in Africa. The presence of French troops supporting the G5 Sahel Joint Force for nearly a decade has not really solved the fundamental or root causes of the crisis affecting Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with global partnerships when it comes to addressing insecurity. Besides, challenges such as violent extremism have a transnational character and in early 2020, the US and Kenya launched a joint terrorism task force. As long as such frameworks are mutually beneficial, this is good.
“However, the governments of Nigeria and countries in Africa must begin to live up to the responsibility entrusted to them by citizens. In other words, leadership in Africa must inspire and drive the process for implementing the different policy frameworks and national action plans which already exist on the continent.
”Meanwhile, a government official familiar with US operations said even if the US chose to relocate its AFRICOM to Nigeria or any part of the West Coast, it would come with its own challenges which might affect Nigeria or its neighbours adversely.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “Bringing AFRICOM to Africa or Nigeria will be a major problem for Nigeria and the African continent. Bringing AFRICOM to Nigeria, for example, will be tantamount to inviting or attracting all the enemies of the US, including global terrorist organisations, to the host country. Such a host country will become a subject of attack from terrorist organisations.
”President Joe Biden had in February stopped the planned withdrawal of US troops from Germany that was ordered last year by the Donald Trump administration but had never actually begun, Associated Press reported.
Biden said the troops’ pullout would be halted until the US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin did a review of America’s troops presence around the globe.Austin, he said, would ensure that “our military footprint is appropriately aligned with our foreign policy and national security priorities.”In a statement, Austin said the US Department of Defence would conduct “a global force posture review of U.S. military footprint, resources, strategy and missions.”