STUTTGART, Germany — When U.S. Africa Command stood up in 2008, it was touted as a military combatant command unlike the others. Rather than warfighting, AFRICOM’s focus was to be security cooperation with its partners in Africa. With nearly half of its headquarters staff composed of civilians, AFRICOM also was designed to improve how a military command coordinates with other elements of the U.S. government.
So when Operation Odyssey Dawn launched in March 2011, AFRICOM found itself in an unlikely role: leading a kinetic military operation on the African continent. While the no-fly zone mission over Libya eventually proved to be a success, AFRICOM's unique structure complicated U.S. efforts, particularly during the early stages of the mission, according to an article in the March edition of PRISM, a National Defense University security studies journal.