FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

2 Hippies: Bring Africa Command Home! or "2014 is the over/under"

I don't know for sure that the two academics who penned this Defense News article are hippies, but it sure is a fun name to call people who are so sure they are right and the smartest people in the whole wide world decidely assured in their convictions/opinions.   I have cut and pasted some choice quotes from their article below:

"The Pentagon is seeking a new home for Africa Command, the military headquarters created for the continent in 2007. It is now housed at a base in Stuttgart, Germany, an area The Economist aptly calls "perhaps the least African place in the world.""

"AFRICOM's busy work has no real impact on our security."

"European Command ran out of enemies in the 1990s. Even Central Command (the Middle-East) and Pacific Command (Asia), which at least have real threats to hype, largely replicate capacity in the Pentagon or the commands we stand up in the countries where we fight. We should close them all."

(Benjamin Friedman is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and a doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Harvey Sapolsky is a professor emeritus of public policy and organization at MIT)


  1. Clearly a biased, incomplete assessment not based in fact or outcomes. Mr. Friedman's lack of understanding of the echelons of command is especially dangerous and obviously contributed to his poor analysis.

    The fact that this assessment appeared in Defense News is disturbing. If it has made its appearance on Salon of the Huffington Post, I might understand.

    EUCOM did not "run out of enemies" in the 1990s. Bosnia, Coatia, Serbia, Kosovo, east European integration into the NATO security umbrella, Rwanda, Liberia, the list of operations and conflicts under the command and control of EUCOM goes on and on.

    As far as Africa Command's "busy work," the gentlemen is very confused or uninformed. Having just completed back to back tours on the continent I am more than happy to debate this canard.

    Good or bad, right or wrong, Africa Command's impact on security is genuine and enduring.

  2. Sir, thank you for your comments, I couldn't agree with you more! I have only recently become a Navy Africa FAO (working an Africa FAO job for the past year) but when I read the Defense News article, I was dumbfounded DF would publish something so ill-informed.

  3. I'll ignore the leanings of the writers. The question is valid.

    I think USAFRICOM could be CONUS-based (Hampton Roads, VA specifically) and remain effective. If you have a CCMD that is based on leveraging/linking to the non-DOD interagency, it makes more sense to be 3 hours away than 3 time zones away. Also, there's no place in Europe (or even on the African Continent) that puts you closer to than any other. The Continent is just so large. The Service Components can remain where they are; there are some equities with European presence for them. But since there aren't a lot of forces apportioned to USAFRICOM it's a wash.