WASHINGTON — Virginia’s two US senators are championing an effort to move the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) headquarters from Germany to their state.
The pitch, made in a Tuesday letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, comes days after a Government Accountability Office report said a Defense Department assessment of moving the command to the United States was flawed.
Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine said AFRICOM could use facilities in Hampton Roads built for US Joint Forces Command, which DoD shuttered in 2011.
AFRICOM headquarters has been based at Stuttgart, Germany, since the command stood up in 2007. The location was considered temporary as DoD explored options for basing the headquarters in Africa. But “significant projected costs and sensitivities on the part of African countries” derailed that plan, GAO said,
A 2012 DoD analysis found moving the combatant command’s headquarters to the United States could save upward of $60 million per year, create more than 4,000 jobs and interject more than $350 million into the local economy each year, GAO said.
But in early 2013, DoD decided to keep the command in Germany because the commander believed it “would be more operationally effective” and could share resources with nearby US European Command, GAO said.
The Pentagon’s analysis “was not supported by a comprehensive and well-documented analysis that balanced the operational and cost benefits of the options available to DoD,” GAO said.
“Until the costs and benefits of maintaining AFRICOM in Germany are specified and weighed against the costs and benefits of relocating the command, the department may be missing an opportunity to accomplish its missions successfully at a lower cost,” the report stated.
GAO recommends DoD “conduct a more comprehensive and well-documented analysis of options” for moving AFRICOM’s headquarters.
The Pentagon has been looking to trim the sizes of headquarters staffs by 20 percent across the military. A Defense News analysis found staff sizes at the combatant commands, Joint Staff and Office of the Secretary of Defense grew by more than 15 percent from 2010 to 2012.