Members of the U.S. Africa Command’s North and West Africa Response Force conducted a series of crisis response training exercises in multiple locations throughout Italy, Feb. 16-20. Soldiers of the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) and U.S. Army Southern European Task Force-Africa joined with U.S. Marines from Naval Air Station Sigonella, and U.S. Airmen from Aviano to improve crisis response capabilities. The NARF supports USAFRICOM requirement to respond to crises and contingencies on a moment’s notice in North and West Africa.
Regular exercises ensure the joint team’s capability to marshal and deploy with a scalable force package in support of U.S. persons, facilities and interests in Africa. The training included water survival drills in Vicenza; air load and transit operations in Aviano and in Sicily with Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps air assets. Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines of the NARF routinely conduct crisis and contingency response exercises both in Europe and Africa, improving joint operational capability across a variety of mission sets.
The United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM, U.S. AFRICOM, and AFRICOM), is one of the eleven unified combatant commands of the United States Department of Defense, headquartered at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany. It is responsible for U.S. military operations, including fighting regional conflicts and maintaining military relations with 53 African nations. Its area of responsibility covers all of Africa except Eritrea, which has denied interest of becoming a member for years. It also does not cover Egypt, which is within the area of responsibility of the United States Central Command. U.S. AFRICOM headquarters operating budget was $276 million in fiscal year 2012.
The Commander of U.S. AFRICOM reports to the Secretary of Defense. The current Commander of the U.S. Africa Command stated that the purpose of the command is to work alongside African military personnel to support their military operations. In individual countries, U.S. ambassadors continue to be the primary diplomatic representative for relations with host nations.