AFRICOM Headquarters Could Move to US as Troops Pull Out of Germany

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AFRICOM staff get a bird’s eye view inside AFRICOM’s joint operations center.
AFRICOM staff get a bird’s eye view inside AFRICOM’s joint operations center during open house event, Feb. 5, 2016, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, Germany. (U.S. Africa Command/Brenda Law)

The headquarters of U.S. Africa Command could move back to the U.S. under the controversial plan to pull nearly 12,000 troops out of Germany, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

AFRICOM headquarters, now based in Stuttgart, will be moving out of Germany "to a different location to be determined" based on the costs involved and the "receptivity" of potential host nations to its presence, according to James Anderson, acting Defense Department policy chief.

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DoD is in the process of figuring out what would be involved if the new headquarters were to be in Europe or Africa, "or if it were to move back to the United States, which is yet another possibility," Anderson said at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Penn., questioned whether the decision to move AFRICOM headquarters out of Germany was being made in haste without considering the costs or the impact on the U.S. presence in Africa.

"You mentioned specifically maybe moving to the U.S., which sort of doesn't seem like a sensible solution," Houlahan told Anderson.

Earlier in the hearing, Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., also questioned why moving AFRICOM headquarters was part of the Pentagon's Germany withdrawal plan.

The decision to move AFRICOM headquarters out of Germany without any agreement on where it would be relocated "does not seem to make any sense," Smith said.

President Donald Trump initially gave the order in June to withdraw at least 9,500 U.S. troops from Germany. Defense Secretary Mark Esper in July said the number of troops to be withdrawn had increased to at least 11,900.

Anderson sought to assure the committee members that "the costs and operational efficiency and host nation permissions will be among the variables" considered by DoD in finding a new location for the headquarters.

He added that Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of AFRICOM, was "working with his staff" to develop options on where the headquarters with its current staff of about 1,400 troops and civilians might go.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

Related: 'They're Delinquent:' Trump Says Germany Will Have to Pay More to Keep US Troops

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