In 2007, in a post-9/11 political and psychological landscape, President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, then secretary of defense, launched U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), which oversees all Department of Defense military operations on the continent in order to “monitor and disrupt violent extremist organizations and protect U.S. interests” because of the continent’s growing strategic importance. Initially based in Stuttgart, Germany, AFRICOM was formed without the input or support of any African leaders, many of whom decried its formation and described it as an attempt to establish more U.S. military bases on the continent. In response, U.S. officials said AFRICOM was meant to provide humanitarian assistance and support peace and stability because “a safe, stable, and prosperous Africa is an enduring American interest.” But critics pointed out that Iraq and Afghanistan, twin targets of the war on terror, serve as clear examples of the disastrous consequences of the U.S.’s militarized “humanitarian” efforts.
AFRICOM has not created the “safety and stability” invoked by U.S. leaders, but it has expanded the U.S. military’s footprint. During the Obama administration, AFRICOM quickly expanded its reach and influence on the continent through military-to-military trainings, joint counterterrorism operations, foreign aid, and other surreptitious methods that created dependence on AFRICOM for the defense needs of African states. Despite the fact that the U.S. is not at war with any African country, there are 46 U.S. military bases and outposts spanning the continent, with the greatest concentration in the Horn of Africa. Camp Lemonnier, the U.S. base in Djibouti, a small East African nation with a poverty rate of 79 percent, serves as the current home to AFRICOM in the Horn. In 2014 the U.S. government secured a 20-year lease for $63,000,000 a year.
AFRICOM's presence has not led to a decrease in terrorist activity but has only caused increased instability in the region and enabled such violence to flourish. One thing AFRICOM has dramatically succeeded at is boosting corporate profits associated with the lucrative counterterrorism industry that the war on terror has made possible.