AFRICOM: Motivations Behind the United States’ Newest Combatant Command and What to Expect

By Benjamin Mansbach
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

As the world's largest consumer of oil, the United States (U.S.) is continually hunting for this resources to meet its massive demand. The search has led the U.S. to attach a new importance to Africa, one of the few continents where oil output is growing. The optimism that Africa's massive oil reserves generate is tempered by the reality that the continent is plagued by chronic instability. Reflecting on the experiences of extracting oil from unstable regions across the globe, such as the Middle East, the U.S. has introduced a new strategic paradigm for Africa that seeks to prevent violence and facilitate development. The new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is leading this effort. While a military-led approach carries risks, most notably for the African people and especially in the face of competition from China, AFRICOM has the potential to engage positively in Africa by bolstering much needed security while achieving American strategic objectives.

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