U.S. Moving Forward on Africa Command, While Some Fear Backlash

U.S. Moving Forward on Africa Command, While Some Fear Backlash

WASHINGTON -- The United States is moving forward on plans to establish an Africa Command that will anchor military operations across a continent seen to be of increasing strategic importance and threatened by transnational terrorists. But critics argue the initiative could backfire and fuel radicalism in areas where it is not yet a problem.

The new force, known informally as AFRICOM, will preside over all countries on the continent except Egypt and is expected to be operational by the fall, according to Pentagon officials, who say it is needed to secure vast, lawless areas where terrorists have sought safe haven to regroup and strike at U.S. interests.

"Part of the rationale behind the development of this command is clearly the growing emergence of the strategic importance of Africa from a global . . . security and economic standpoint," Rear Adm. Robert Moeller, head of the Africa Command Transition Team, said last month. "This allows us to work more closely with our African partners to . . . enhance the stability across the continent."

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