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STUTTGART, Germany — Times have changed for the U.S. military, so it is building its new combatant command, Africa Command, in a different way.

The headquarters-type command, called AFRICOM, is creating departments that are different from the traditional J-code style, which dates to the 19th century and was designed for warfighting.

Theresa Whelan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs, said the command is being organized to address military training, development efforts and other issues on the continent.

“Recognizing that AFRICOM’s focus is on war prevention rather than warfighting, we are reorganizing the inner workings of the command,” Whelan recently told Congress. “[This is] to best position it for theater security cooperation activities and preventing problems before they become crises and preventing crises before they become catastrophes.”

Typically, a joint headquarters such as AFRICOM would be set up with six directorates: J1 (Personnel), J2 (Intelligence), J3 (Operations), J4 (Logistics), J5 (Planning) and J6 (Command and Control), with add-ons such as inspector general, public affairs and chaplaincy.

AFRICOM’s will have divisions called outreach, plans and programs, knowledge development, operations and logistics, and resources.

Army Col. Patrick Mackin, an AFRICOM spokesman, said he did not know if the divisions would be called directorates or something else.

“We fully anticipate the structure to evolve as we stand-up the command and start to work the issues,” Mackin said. “But we think this initial construct is a good start.”

The U.S. military has been conducting military exercises and training and humanitarian efforts such as medical missions on the African continent for years. It also has conducted operations such as airlifting peacekeeping troops into Sudan and securing the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia, during a 2003 uprising.

Military efforts on the continent are currently coordinated by three different geographically based commands: Stuttgart, Germany-based European Command, which covers most of the continent; Tampa-based Central Command, which covers seven eastern nations from Egypt south to Kenya; and Honolulu-based Pacific Command, which covers the island of Madagascar.

AFRICOM is scheduled to stand-up on Oct. 1, when it would begin coordinating at least some of the military’s activities on the continent. The command plans to be fully operational by October 2008. Army Gen. William E. Ward, the European Command’s deputy commander, has been nominated to become AFRICOM’s first commander.

“AFRICOM has a unique mission, and so we envision a unique structure,” Mackin said. “We started with the work we think needs to be done — much of it based on the great programs already taking place in Africa — and developed a headquarters design that best supports that work.”

While AFRICOM is currently forming up in Stuttgart, a headquarters and perhaps regional offices are being planned for somewhere on the continent. Mackin said no decision has been reached on the headquarters’ location or structure.


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