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American Forces Press Service

Work Salutes U.S. Africa Command's Efforts

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, April 17, 2015 – The men and women of U.S. Africa Command punch way above their weight class, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said during an interview at the end of his first visit to the command today.

Work visited with the command's logisticians and operators during a stop at its headquarters on Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. He also met with Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez, Africom's commander.

Work passed along his thanks and those of Defense Secretary Ash Carter for the hard work and sacrifices by the command during the Ebola crisis. He said President Barack Obama knows what the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and DoD civilians and contractors of the command did for the people of West Africa.

President 'Knows Your Effort'

The president "knows your effort and appreciates it," Work told Africom's troops and civilians.

Work said Africom is small and has an economy of force mission. DoD officials expected that Africom would get more equipment and capabilities once the missions ended in Iraq and Afghanistan. But events in those two countries, combined with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, and the behavior of Russia in illegally annexing Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and Russian actions in Eastern Ukraine forced the military to leave the capabilities in U.S. Central Command.

Africom continues to march and demonstrate how to do more with less, Work said. Africa is the second-largest continent, he said, and there is only one permanent long-term U.S. base in the region -- Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.

"There are no plans for any more [bases]," Work said during the interview.

Camp Lemonnier Supports Dual Missions

Camp Lemonnier has been successful in guarding the seam between Africom and U.S. Central Command. On the Africom side, the base provides assistance to the African Union force seeking to neutralize al Shabab -- a terror group based in Somalia. The base also supports U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command efforts in Yemen.

In the rest of Africa the U.S. footprint is much smaller, said Work, noting U.S. forces operate at cooperative security locations when needed.

"We have approved three [cooperative security locations] in Western Africa and it's very cost-effective way to do it," the deputy secretary said.

These bases are temporary, but they can be converted quickly, the deputy secretary said. Africom negotiated with countries for access to the sites and the infrastructure, he said, noting each base can hold between 100 to 200 people and has runways that can land C-17 and C-130 aircraft.

These are bare-bones bases and are only occupied when needed, the deputy secretary said.

"Africom has done such a remarkable job in the way they partnered with nations," Work said.

Overall, the command spends about $9 billion a year, with most of that money coming from the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the deputy secretary said.

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