Introducing AFRICOM

AFRICOM draft area of responsibility

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: The Pentagon divides the world into big chunks of territory. It positions its bases kind of like the real-life game of Risk. There's CENTCOM which covers the Middle East, PACCOM, the Pacific Rim, and now for the first time, AFRICOM. As Eric Niiler reports, this signifies Africa's growing importance as an economic power.


ERIC NIILER: Officials say AFRICOM will help African countries fight terrorism, run humanitarian missions and protect economic interests.

Chevron, Shell and Marathon Oil all have big projects in Africa, which accounts for 15 percent of U.S. oil imports.

But Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Theresa Whelan said U.S. troops will act as advisors, not a police force.

THERESA WHELAN: AFRICOM isn't going to be used to protect natural resources in Africa.

Eurasia Group analyst Philippe De Pontet says oilfields off the West Coast of Africa are too important for the U.S. to ignore.

PHILIPPE DE PONTET: Clearly protecting offshore oil interests will be an important part of the mandate. It won't be the only thing.

India and China are also moving in to exploit African oil. No word yet on where the U.S. base will be located.

In Washington, I'm Eric Niiler for Marketplace.

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