/ 8 October 2008

US says no Africom headquarters in Africa

A top Pentagon official for African affairs insisted on Wednesday that no country on the continent had been asked to host the new United States military command for Africa (Africom), as she began a three-day visit to Angola.

“We actually have not asked any country to host the new Africa command. There has been some misinformation that we have asked some countries — we have not,” Theresa Whelan told reporters in Luanda.

“Our discussions with Angola are about US-Angola military defence cooperation,” Whelan said.

Africom — based in Stuttgart, Germany, with about 1 300 military and civilian personnel — began operating one week ago.

The United States announced the new command early in the year, saying it would coordinate all American military and security interests throughout the continent.

Some African critics have sought to link the Africom project to the increasing reliance of the United States on oil imports from Africa, especially the crude-rich Gulf of Guinea.

Angola recently overtook Nigeria as the continent’s largest oil producer.

Whelan said her talks in Angola aimed to deepen existing cooperation, especially in maritime security. Most of Angola’s oil production is offshore. — AFP