Craddock discusses Africa, European command changes

Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, commander of U.S. European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe

WASHINGTON — Establishing U.S. Africa Command will mean big changes to U.S. European Command, the top U.S. military commander in Europe said at a news roundtable here March 2. Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, commander of U.S. European Command and NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, said initial operating capability for U.S. Africa Command is tentatively set for Oct. 1, with full operational capability set for Oct. 1, 2008.

All the African nations currently under European Command will transfer to the new command. All the nations of the Horn of Africa will transfer from U.S. Central Command, and Madagascar and the Seychelles will transfer from U.S. Pacific Command.

The new command will be based in Stuttgart, Germany, for the time being. Officials ultimately hope the command will transfer its headquarters to Africa, Craddock said.

The teams working to set up AFRICOM are working in Washington and Stuttgart on the new command's manning, functions and missions. Craddock has taken the opportunity of the change to look at and refocus the mission of U.S. European Command.

"EUCOM has plenty of opportunities to look at," he said. "We've just got to be sure that we are arranged properly."

He said an enormous requirement will remain for the U.S. military to engage European and NATO nations. "NATO has 26 members and 23 partners," he said. "We have to look at the Trans-Caucusus area, (and) engagement with Russia. We've got to look at lines of communication. Sea lanes are important, (as is) energy security, which means different things to different nations."

Craddock said he sees the changes to both commands as a chance to reach out to other U.S. government agencies.

"I don't see Africa Command as a typical combatant command, as European Command or Southern Command of Pacific Command is today," he said. "I think given the roles and missions and challenges in Africa, it is going to have a little different scope."

Africa Command must be interagency from the start, he said, because of the challenges on the continent.

"We need to put together the organization to face the challenges of endemic disease, HIV/AIDS, agriculture, energy," he said. This will require people from the State Department, Health and Human Services, the Energy Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, to name a few.

If this approach is successful at Africa Command - and Craddock said he believes it will be - the general anticipates the changes would migrate to other geographic commands.

"The problem is there are so many different (agency) stovepipes," he said. "We've got to get these stovepipes connected horizontally.

"I think AFRICOM may be the spearhead - the pioneer here," he continued. "But I think there will be spin-offs and best practices we can use in re-crafting the combatant commands."

He said the model could be very much like that of the Joint Interagency Task Force South in Key West, Fla. That group is an interagency force that has people empowered to make decisions.

The members from different agencies do not have to reach back to Washington to make a decision or commit resources, Craddock said, adding that he could see something along those lines replacing the European Command's interagency coordinating group.

"We'd like to populate the interagency group with decisional authority rather than having them reach back to Washington for a decision," he said. "It would enable greater opportunities for fast decisions and be able to do things on a higher-tempo basis."

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