During a virtual meeting, earlier this week, with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari urged the United States to consider relocating the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) headquarters from Germany to Africa.

President Buhari said that given the lack of security in many areas and the continued efforts to expel militant Islamist groups, like Boko Haram, the U.S. should consider moving AFRICOM’s headquarters. This would better support African nations against the violence besetting the region.

“Considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel weighing heavily on Africa underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart in Germany to Africa, and near the theater of operations,” Buhari said, according to a State Department transcript. 

“The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impact it more negatively by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central, and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region,” he added.

Members of the State Department take part in a virtual meeting with Nigerian President Buhari. (Reuters photo)

“The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concern, cooperation, and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.” 

A Relocation That Has Never Fructified

Moving AFRICOM’s headquarters to Africa has been discussed and shot down by Congress and the Pentagon before. AFRICOM, founded in 2007, established its headquarters in Germany due to concerns within Africa about a heavy U.S. troop presence on the continent being construed as neo-colonialism. 

In 2013, Pentagon officials decided to leave AFRICOM’s headquarters in Stuttgart after a long review of other potential sites, including the United States. At the time, DoD said Germany best met the “operational needs” of the Africa-based missions.

Back in 2018, then-AFRICOM Commander Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, said moving the headquarters, and the approximately 1,200 DoD employees, would be a significant cost with questionable return.