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STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. Africa Command on Monday declared itself to have initial operating capability and began bringing the military’s activities on the continent under its umbrella.

The announcement came on the day the command said it would, and just three days after Gen. William E. Ward was approved by the Senate to become AFRICOM’s first commander.

No formal ceremony took place to mark the moment, according to Vince Crawley, a spokesman at AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart. Instead, the command simply announced it would start taking over African-based programs from the European, Central and Pacific commands. Those joint commands, located in Stuttgart, Tampa and Honolulu, respectively, currently oversee programs on various parts of the continent, at least for now.

“The actual transfers of responsibility are expected to take place in a series of phases over the next 12 months,” Crawley said.

“I don’t know the timing of the handovers,” he added. “The schedules are being determined.”

AFRICOM is scheduled to become fully operational on Oct. 1, 2008. The command, which is expected to number approximately 800 to 1,000 people, including servicemembers, civilians and contractors, has been forming in Stuttgart since February. The command is planning to assimilate State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development and other government agencies into itself.

Programs to eventually fall under AFRICOM’s control include the Djibouti-based Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa; the 6th Fleet’s Global Fleet Station, in which the USS Fort McHenry will operate out of the Gulf of Guinea for six months; and the annual Flintlock multination exercise in northern Africa.

Military training and periodic humanitarian missions would be performed by the command.

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