Merged US Army Europe-Africa command boosts crisis response, general says
STUTTGART, Germany — The consolidation of U.S. Army Europe and Africa headquarters is a “very big advance” that will enable troops to move more rapidly between continents in times of crisis, the general in charge of Army missions on the two continents said Tuesday.
“It is a consolidation of our capabilities across Europe and Africa,” Gen. Christopher Cavoli, head of USAREUR-AF, told reporters by phone during a news conference.
Cavoli, who previously led U.S. Army Europe from his Wiesbaden, Germany office, now oversees all Army operations in Africa after his command was elevated in November to a combined four-star headquarters.
“The consolidation enables me to shift forces dynamically, and resources, from one theater to another — from one continent to another, which really improves significantly our regional contingency response times,” he said.
Speed of response in a crisis has been an area of concern for U.S. Africa Command since the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic site in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead. Capabilities such as a Marine quick reaction force based out of Spain have been added since then.
The Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade is expected to play a larger role in Africa, too. Earlier this year, the Vicenza, Italy-based brigade was sent on a six-week mission to East Africa to help AFRICOM reposition U.S. forces in Somalia.
In addition to its role as U.S. European Command’s quick reaction force, the brigade is now responsible for a similar mission in North and West Africa, according to Army officials.
Cavoli said security concerns in Europe and Africa are closely linked, which means the Army can now create a strategy across the entire hemisphere. The consolidation will also allow Cavoli to coordinate more closely with European militaries that have interests in Africa, he said.
“This is a very big advance, both north of the Mediterranean and south of the Mediterranean,” Cavoli said.