CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott (R-SC) on Monday wrote to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper offering Joint Base Charleston (JBC) as the new United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) Headquarters, should a “suitable location” not be found in Africa.
Currently, AFRICOM HQ is stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, however the Department of Defense (DoD) is working on a relocation.
The SC Senators argued the merits of JBC based on three major factors: existing infrastructure, geostrategic location, and fiscal viability.
Graham and Scott acknowledged that “AFRICOM will require access to an established infrastructure network.” JBC has the necessary infrastructure, and will not need significant investment to meet AFRICOM’s needs.
JBC “offers direct airlift and sealift to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, as well as road and rail assets to provide a rapid response should immediate actions be required.” JBC is also home to the Air Force’s largest fleet of C-17s.
In addition to being geostrategically positioned, Graham and Scott argue that “the community of Charleston itself is another promising aspect of relocating AFRICOM to JBC,” as the area offers “a diverse range of options for housing, educational opportunities, and spousal employment.”
Finally, relocating AFRICOM HQ to JBC would reduce costs on multiple fronts: the existing infrastructure provides “cost saving opportunities,” as well as a “lower cost of living” for personnel and their dependents.
These factors led Graham and Scott to “believe that the benefits to the mission and the national security of the United States by positioning AFRICOM at a secure and established instillation, such as JBC, are substantial.”
According to its website, AFRICOM “is responsible for all U.S. DoD operations, exercises, and security cooperation on the African continent, its island nations, and surrounding waters.”
AFRICOM, “with partners, counters transnational threats and malign actors, strengthens security forces, and responds to crises in order to advance U.S. national interests and promote regional security, stability, and prosperity.”
There are around 2,000 military, federal civilian, and contracted personnel assigned to AFRICOM, roughly 1,400 of whom work at the current HQ in Germany.
It is unclear whether all of those personnel currently stationed in Germany would relocate to JBC.
A spokesperson for JBC said that JBC “is unable to provide a statement at this time regarding any strategic basing decisions.”