U.K. site could become support base for AFRICOM
Stars and Stripes May 8, 2008
A U.S. base in England that houses two global intelligence hubs is among the sites being considered for a planned intelligence support center for U.S. Africa Command.
“At this time, a number of location options are being considered,” AFRICOM spokesman Vince Crawley said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes on Tuesday. “However, no decisions on locations for such a center have been made.”
If England is chosen, the “cyber command” element likely would be housed at RAF Molesworth, site of the NATO-centered and U.S.-led Intelligence Fusion Center and the U.S. European Command’s Joint Analysis Center, two autonomous operations.
Some intelligence operations for AFRICOM already are under way at the JAC and will continue there until the location of the main hub is determined, Crawley said.
The United Kingdom-based 501st Combat Support Wing determined it could handle an influx of up to 500 AFRICOM intelligence personnel and their dependents after officials from the Defense Department and AFRICOM recently posed the question, said Col. Kimberly Toney, commander of the 501st.
Headquartered at RAF Alconbury, the 501st encompasses Molesworth, a cluster of six other bases and remote units in England and Norway.
Toney said she did not know the other locations under consideration for the fledgling command’s intelligence component, besides AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. High-level officials were expected to make the decision late last month but had to reschedule the meeting, Toney said.
“It’s way over our heads at this point,” she said. “We just said, ‘Yes, we can accommodate that.’”
But the growth of AFRICOM — formally established in 2007 mainly as a stability-enhancing force and humanitarian-aid provider on the massive continent — has recently shown signs of slowing down.
AFRICOM just shelved plans to build a new operations center in Africa, deciding instead to place staff there as needed. Officials have said they are now focused on organizing and building the 1,300-person command from Germany.