Africa Command Relocation Update
The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Africa Command Relocation Task Force is continuing to push the Department of Defense to evaluate relocating the command from Stuttgart, Germany to a 30-acre site on Joint Base Charleston Weapons Station. There have been some new developments over the past few months.
The ARTF – which includes CDCA members Steve Amell and Buzz Buske – have continued to hone the proposal the community is offering to build the headquarters facility in a lease back arrangement in order to avoid any MILCON costs. The team, led by Mary Graham of the Chamber that also includes James Ward and Ken Ryan, estimates the cost savings to be in excess of $70 million in operating costs per year. In addition, the team estimates a 20% cost reduction in operations due to increased costs of operating in Germany versus the United States.
While the Department of Defense continues to cite a December 2013 decision by outgoing SECDEF Panetta to leave the facility in Germany, the GAO issued a study in the summer of 2013 which strongly suggests the cost savings far outweigh any benefits of remaining in Germany and the DoD should re-examine their decision.
As a result, the team will be meeting with the South Carolina Congressional delegation in early January in Washington to ask their help in persuading DoD to open the process again.
In 2009, when the initial location study was conducted, Charleston finished on top by a substantial margin because the Charleston region is the ideal home for AFRICOM.
Relocating AFRICOM Headquarters to the United States - in particular to Charleston - would be not only a significant cost savings at a time when DoD is struggling with its own budget, it would also provide increased effectiveness. The Charleston community can offer a headquarters location with airlift, sealift and prepositioning assets unrivaled for their proximity to Africa as well the indispensable, integrated role Naval Space and Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) Atlantic will play in meeting AFRICOM’s mission.