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“Out of Sync” – U.S. Africa Command and Recent Interagency Challenges
by William Denn, J. J. Williams, and Devanie Johnson
U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), the Department of Defense’s (DoD) newest, geographic combatant command formed in 2007, exemplifies a bold, new experiment in whole-of-government interagency cooperation. Structured from the ground up to facilitate the integration of interagency partners, it was created with the best intentions of how twenty-first century U.S. government agencies could synchronize development, diplomacy, and defense objectives. Nine years later, however, there still exists problems in interagency policy synchronization and day-today coordination of operations. This article will highlight observations from some recent operations in Africa and propose recommendations for AFRICOM to continue to improve interagency coordination.
Historically, the African continent remained a low priority in both U.S. foreign and defense policies. It was not until 1952 when several North African countries fell under the U.S. European Command portfolio that Africa was included in the U.S. military command structure. In 1983, under the Goldwater Nichols Act’s restructuring of the geographic combatant commands, responsibility for Africa was divided among three different combatant commands: U.S. European Command (EUCOM), U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), and U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM).
It was not until post-September 11, 2001, however, that Africa grew in strategic importance to U.S. national security interests…
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Major William J. Denn is a U.S. Army military intelligence officer and a student at the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies. He holds a bachelor’s from the United States Military Academy, a M.P.P. from Harvard University, and a Master of Military Art and Science from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Denn is a recipient of the George C. Marshall Award. Major Jamaine J. Williams was the lead Anti-Terrorism Force Protection Officer for the 2013 Nairobi, Kenya Presidential elections and the 2014 Monrovia, Liberia Operations United Assistance Ebola response, Joint Task Force, United States Army Africa. He received his master’s from Webster University and his MMAS from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Major Devanie Johnson is a recent graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and West African Studies Scholars program. She formerly was the senior human resources officer for the staff and observer controller trainer at the Joint Readiness Training Center Operations Group. She deployed to Liberia as a United Nations Military Observer.
Posted: September 13, 2016 by Simons Center
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