ACRI stands for Africa Crises Response Initiative and it was set up during the Bush Jnr Administration as a counterweight to the Nigeria led ECOWAS Monitoring Group on the Liberian Civil War or ECOMOG as it is more popularly known.
ACRI came to being from the secret reports and recommendations separately by the Africa-America Institute and the Brookings Institute commissioned by the Central Intelligence Agency, the American Government’s Directorate responsible for organizing foreign subversive activities, on the Liberian civil war and the intervention of ECOMOG.
Both reports zeroed in on the pivotal role Nigeria was playing in the ECOMOG initiative and noted pointedly the phenomenal success recorded by ECOMOG in containing the Liberian crisis without any significant role or intervention from any of the major western powers including the United States.
The report concluded that should ECOMOG be allowed to go the whole hog, the major beneficiary will be Nigeria and that might form the basis for a pax Nigeriana in the West African sub-region eclipsing the influence of former colonial powers France and Britain.
The reports also called on the United States Government to note that Liberia being its creation should not be allowed to fall into Nigerian hands with consequences to US strategic interests in the country and the region. Specifically both reports noted that should Nigeria be allowed to have a foothold in Liberia, it will further embolden Nigeria to challenge the US and the West in carving its own sphere of interest at their expense.
In this regard, the report further recalled Nigeria’s role in helping to liberate the southern African countries in the 70’s and 80’s in clear opposition and defiance to the interests of the United States and its western allies which resulted in setback for Western initiatives in Africa at the time.
Both concluded with a recommendation that the US Government in conjunction with its allies should seek to contain the growing influence of Nigeria in the sub-region by forming a parallel organization to ECOMOG. But in order not to unduly alarm and antagonize Nigeria which the report admitted still had considerable influence in the region, the US government was advised to go about this using quiet diplomacy.
During the secret congressional hearing organized to consider the reports by both institutes on Nigeria’s role in the ECOMOG, the interagency team comprising representatives from the CIA, Pentagon and State Department formed to push the case, endorsed the recommendation that Nigeria be kept out of the alternate arrangements on Liberia that was being proposed.
The strategy was to win away some key African countries from participation enthusiastically in the ECOMOG initiative. The sweeteners for this were the promise and delivery of military and humanitarian aid. This was the line the then US Secretary of State Warren Christopher pursued when he visited a number of African countries excluding Nigeria to sell the ACRI idea.
Thus ensued, the stalemate in ECOMOG operations with some of the participating countries foot dragging in their commitment to the force and operations. On the diplomatic front, the US along with its allies namely Britain and France using the engineered stalemate as cover, proceeded to sell the idea that the ECOMOG initiative needed to be reviewed and given a new direction.
The US and its allies then argued that the intervention of outside powers such as the US and its western allies was the tonic needed to move the ECOMOG operation forward. But in order to prevent any worldwide backlash against this blatant interference in what should be a regional African initiative, the US and its allies sought to present it under the auspices of the United Nations with a select Asian and Latin American countries participating.
By the time the tallies were counted, the US had achieved the one objective of all the diplomatic and strategic maneuvers; the containment of Nigeria led ECOMOG initiative to resolve the Liberian Crises.
It was on the platform of this surreptitious American intervention in the Liberian crisis that the US Africa Command or AFRICOM was formed.
Here’s a question for you: Can a military tiptoe onto a continent? It seems the unlikeliest of images, and yet it’s a reasonable enough description of what the U.S. military has been doing ever since the Pentagon created an Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007. It’s been slipping, sneaking, creeping into Africa, deploying ever more forces in ever more ways doing ever more things at ever more facilities in ever more countries — and in a fashion so quiet, so covert, that just about no American has any idea this is going on. One day, when an already destabilizing Africa explodes into various forms of violence, the U.S. military will be in the middle of it and Americans will suddenly wonder how in the world this could have happened.
Over the last few days I feel I have been swimming furiously against the #Kony2012 tide. The campaign launched by Invisible Children encourages Americans to lobby American cultural icons and policy makers into putting pressure on the US government to send troops to Uganda to capture leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Joseph Kony. Without a doubt Kony deserves his place on the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Most Wanted list. Under his leadership the LRA have terrorized Northern Uganda, maintaining a culture of institutionalized violence present in Uganda since its inception by the British Empire. Under the guise of spiritual conviction Joseph Kony and the LRA have waged a war that has resulted in the killing and physical mutilation of thousands and performed disgraceful acts of sexual violence including rape and recruiting young girls into sexual slavery. Abducting child soldiers into the LRA has played an important role in leveraging power in Northern Uganda and lawless border regions of the DRC, Central African Republic and South Sudan. So far all collaborative efforts from Ugandan, Congolese, Sudanese and Central African governments and pressure from the UN, ICC and other international bodies have failed to bring Kony to justice.
The destruction of the LRA in Northern Uganda has led the region to be ostracized from relatively growing socio-economic prosperity in the South of Uganda. According to the World Health Organisation (2007) there are still an estimated 900,000 internally displaced Northern Ugandan’s with limited access to food, healthcare, water and sanitation. My maternal family is from Northern Uganda and although we are largely based in Kampala I decided to take a trip to Gulu in 2008 and I remember being taken aback by the sheer number of NGO’s operating in the region. You have NGO’s on every corner scrambling for the space in a similar manner to the way you have a Starbucks and McDonald’s on every corner in London. Behind the veneer of charity, you have real people and real communities who after a generation of civil war are in the process of rehabilitation. Kony and the LRA have not been active in Northern Uganda since 2006 and today the focus in the region is now on resettlement and reconstruction by providing access to education, psychological rehabilitation, training for young adults who were captured by the LRA as children, community reconciliation and emotional and spiritual empowerment. #Kony2012 is not a campaign that supports any of these objectives.
As a piece of neo-colonialist marketing #Kony2012 is brilliant. However, if you are concerned with accuracy and content it is disturbing. Taking Joseph Kony and the LRA outside of a national, geo-political and historical context and excluding Ugandans from the advocacy process will not end the violence of the LRA or prevent future conflicts in Uganda. What the campaign does is simultaneously appeal to the ego and the heart of the international community and gives the impression that lobbying for US military presence in Uganda (despite Kony having fled) will dismantle the LRA – just like that, magic! A Twitter user captured the campaign perfectly when he said he never thought you could blend together the Heart of Darkness and Glee. Yet, traditional responses to the war in Northern Uganda have been military action from Museveni’s government and traditionally this has failed. For example, Museveni’s Operation Iron Fist in March 2002 where he attacked LRA bases in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan failed, leading to devastating attacks on civilians by the LRA. Recent peace in the region is considered a blessing and according to Professor Samuel Tindifa of Makerere University, requires a regionally specific solution that includes building a politically and ideologically mutually beneficial relationship between the government and the political leadership of the Acholi and Langi communities. A growing US military presence in Uganda is not on the list of needs to make the country a safer and better place. If money should be spent lobbying any government it should be on lobbying the governments of Uganda, South Sudan, DRC and Central African Republic to utilize their intelligence to capture Kony. The leadership of these governments must be held to account instead of sovereignty being outsourced to twitter and facebook enthusiasts who cannot point to Uganda on a map let alone engage with sustainable conflict resolution. The video itself does not mention Museveni which makes me question its viability as an awareness and advocacy tool.
So how many U.S. military bases are there in Africa? It’s a simple question with a simple answer. For years, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) gave a stock response: one. Camp Lemonnier in the tiny, sun-bleached nation of Djibouti was America’s only acknowledged “base” on the continent. It wasn’t true, of course, because there were camps, compounds, installations, and facilities elsewhere, but the military leaned hard on semantics.
Take a look at the Pentagon’s official list of bases, however, and the number grows. The 2015 report on the Department of Defense’s global property portfolio lists Camp Lemonnier and three other deep-rooted sites on or near the continent:U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 3, a medical research facility in Cairo, Egypt, that was established in 1946; Ascension Auxiliary Airfield, a spacecraft tracking station and airfield located 1,000 miles off the coast of West Africa that has been used by the U.S. since 1957; and warehouses at the airport and seaport in Mombasa, Kenya, that were built in the 1980s.
The Pentagon’s Africa Command will tell you there’s one military base on the entire continent. Don’t believe them.
To hear AFRICOM tell it, US military involvement on the continent ranges from the miniscule to the microscopic. The command is adamant that it has only a single “military base” in all of Africa: Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. The head of the command insists that the US military maintains a “small footprint” on the continent. AFRICOM’s chief spokesman has consistently minimized the scope of its operations and the number of facilities it maintains or shares with host nations, asserting that only “a small presence of personnel who conduct short-duration engagements” are operating from “several locations” on the continent at any given time.
With the war in Iraq over and the conflict in Afghanistan winding down, the US military isdeploying its forces far beyond declared combat zones. In recent years, for example, Washington has very publicly proclaimed a “pivot to Asia,” a “rebalancing” of its military resources eastward, without actually carrying out wholesale policy changes. Elsewhere, however, from the Middle East to South America, the Pentagon is increasingly engaged inshadowy operations whose details emerge piecemeal and are rarely examined in a comprehensive way. Nowhere is this truer than in Africa. To the media and the American people, officials insist the US military is engaged in small-scale, innocuous operations there. Out of public earshot, officers running America’s secret wars say: “Africa is the battlefield of tomorrow, today.”
The US Military’s Pivot to Africa, 2012-13/TomDispatch/Google
The proof is in the details—a seemingly ceaseless string of projects, operations, and engagements. Each mission, as AFRICOM insists, may be relatively limited and each footprint might be “small” on its own, but taken as a whole, US military operations are sweeping and expansive. Evidence of an American pivot to Africa is almost everywhere on the continent. Few, however, have paid much notice.
If the proverbial picture is worth a thousand words, then what’s a map worth? Take, for instance, the one created by TomDispatch that documents US military outposts, construction, security cooperation, and deployments in Africa. It looks like a field of mushrooms after a monsoon. US Africa Command recognizes 54 countries on the continent, but refuses to say in which ones (or even in how many) it now conducts operations. An investigation byTomDispatch has found recent US military involvement with no fewer than 49 African nations.
In some, the US maintains bases, even if under other names. In others, it trains local partners and proxies to battle militants ranging from Somalia’s al-Shabaab and Nigeria’s Boko Haram to members of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Elsewhere, it is building facilities for its allies or infrastructure for locals. Many African nations are home to multiple US military projects. Despite what AFRICOM officials say, a careful reading of internal briefings, contracts, and other official documents, as well as open source information, including the command’s own press releases and news items, reveals that military operations in Africa are already vast and will be expanding for the foreseeable future.
A Base by Any Other Name…
What does the US military footprint in Africa look like? Colonel Tom Davis, AFRICOM’s Director of Public Affairs, is unequivocal: “Other than our base at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, we do not have military bases in Africa, nor do we have plans to establish any.” He admits only that the US has “temporary facilities elsewhere…that support much smaller numbers of personnel, usually for a specific activity."
AFRICOM’s chief of media engagement Benjamin Benson echoes this, telling me that it’s almost impossible to offer a list of forward operating bases. "Places that [US forces] might be, the range of possible locations can get really big, but can provide a really skewed image of where we are…versus other places where we have ongoing operations. So, in terms of providing a number, I’d be at a loss of how to quantify this."
A briefing prepared last year by Captain Rick Cook, the chief of AFRICOM’s Engineering Division, tells a different story, making reference to forward operating sites or FOSes (long-term locations), cooperative security locations or CSLs (which troops periodically rotate in and out of), and contingency locations or CLs (which are used only during ongoing operations). A separate briefing prepared last year by Lieutenant Colonel David Knellinger references seven cooperative security locations across Africa whose whereabouts are classified. A third briefing, produced in July of 2012 by US Army Africa, identifies one of the CSL sites as Entebbe, Uganda, a location from which US contractors have flown secret surveillance missions using innocuous-looking, white Pilatus PC-12 turboprop airplanes, according to an investigation by the Washington Post.
The 2012 US Army Africa briefing materials obtained by TomDispatch reference plans to build six new gates to the Entebbe compound, 11 new "containerized housing units,” new guard stations, new perimeter and security fencing, enhanced security lighting and new concrete access ramps, among other improvements. Satellite photos indicate that many, if not all, of these upgrades have, indeed, taken place.
A 2009 image (above left) shows a bare-bones compound of dirt and grass tucked away on a Ugandan air base with just a few aircraft surrounding it. A satellite photo of the compound from earlier this year (above right) shows a strikingly more built-up camp surrounded by a swarm of helicopters and white airplanes.
Initially, AFRICOM’s Benjamin Benson refused to comment on the construction or the number of aircraft, insisting that the command had no “public information” about it. Confronted with the 2013 satellite photo, Benson reviewed it and offered a reply that neither confirmed nor denied that the site was a US facility, but cautioned me about using “uncorroborated data.” (Benson failed to respond to my request to corroborate the data through a site visit.) “I have no way of knowing where the photo was taken and how it was modified,” he told me. “Assuming the location is Entebbe, as you suggest, I would again argue that the aircraft could belong to anyone…It would be irresponsible of me to speculate on the missions, roles, or ownership of these aircraft.” He went on to suggest, however, that the aircraft might belong to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) which does have a presence at the Entebbe air base. A request for comment from MONUSCO went unanswered before this article went to press.
This buildup may only be the beginning for Entebbe CSL. Recent contracting documents examined by TomDispatch indicate that AFRICOM is considering an additional surge of air assets there—specifically hiring a private contractor to provide further “dedicated fixed-wing airlift services for movement of Department of Defense (DoD) personnel and cargo in the Central African Region.” This mercenary air force would keep as many as three planes in the air at the same time on any given day, logging a total of about 70 to 100 hours per week. If the military goes ahead with these plans, the aircraft would ferry troops, weapons, and other materiel within Uganda and to the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan.
Another key, if little noticed, US outpost in Africa is located in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. An airbase there serves as the home of a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment, as well as the Trans-Sahara Short Take-Off and Landing Airlift Support initiative. According to military documents, that “initiative” supports “high-risk activities” carried out by elite forces from Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara. Lieutenant Colonel Scott Rawlinson, a spokesman for Special Operations Command Africa, told me that it provides “emergency casualty evacuation support to small team engagements with partner nations throughout the Sahel,” although official documents note that such actions have historically accounted for only 10% of its monthly flight hours.
While Rawlinson demurred from discussing the scope of the program, citing operational security concerns, military documents again indicate that, whatever its goals, it is expanding rapidly. Between March and December 2012, for example, the initiative flew 233 sorties. In the first three months of this year, it carried out 193.
In July, Berry Aviation, a Texas-based longtime Pentagon contractor, was awarded a nearly $50 million contract to provide aircraft and personnel for “Trans-Sahara Short Take-Off and Landing services." Under the terms of the deal, Berry will "perform casualty evacuation, personnel airlift, cargo airlift, as well as personnel and cargo aerial delivery services throughout the Trans-Sahara of Africa,” according to a statement from the company. Contracting documents indicate that Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia are the “most likely locations for missions.”
Special Ops in Africa
Ouagadougou is just one site for expanding US air operations in Africa. Last year, the 435th Military Construction Flight (MCF)—a rapid-response mobile construction team—revitalized an airfield in South Sudan for Special Operations Command Africa, according to the unit’s commander, Air Force lieutenantAlexander Graboski. Before that, the team also “installed a runway lighting system to enable 24-hour operations” at the outpost. Graboski states that the Air Force’s 435th MCF “has been called upon many times by Special Operations Command Africa to send small teams to perform work in austere locations.” This trend looks as if it will continue. According to a briefing prepared earlier this year by Hugh Denny of the Army Corps of Engineers, plans have been drawn up for Special Operations Command Africa “operations support” facilities to be situated in “multiple locations."
AFRICOM spokesman Benjamin Benson refused to answer questions about SOCAFRICA facilities, and would not comment on the locations of missions by an elite, quick-response force known as Naval Special Warfare Unit 10 (NSWU 10). But according to Captain Robert Smith, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Group Two, NSWU 10 has been engaged "with strategic countries such as Uganda, Somalia, [and] Nigeria."
Captain J. Dane Thorleifson, NSWU 10’s outgoing commander, recently mentioned deployments in six "austere locations” in Africa and “every other month contingency operations—Libya, Tunisia, [and] POTUS,” evidently a reference to President Obama's three-nation trip to Africa in July. Thorleifson, who led the unit from July 2011 to July 2013, also said NSWU 10 had been involved in training “proxy” forces, specifically “building critical host nation security capacity; enabling, advising, and assisting our African CT [counterterror] partner forces so they can swiftly counter and destroy al-Shabab, AQIM [Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb], and Boko Haram.”
Nzara in South Sudan is one of a string of shadowy forward operating posts on the continent where US Special Operations Forces have been stationed in recent years. Other sites includeObo and Djema in the Central Africa Republic and Dungu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Lieutenant Colonel Guillaume Beaurpere, the commander of the 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, “advisory assistance at forward outposts was directly responsible for the establishment of combined operations fusion centers where military commanders, local security officials, and a host of international and non-governmental organizations could share information about regional insurgent activity and coordinate military activities with civil authorities.”
Drone bases are also expanding. In February, the US announced the establishment of a new drone facility in Niger. Later in the spring, AFRICOM spokesman Benjamin Benson confirmed toTomDispatch that US air operations conducted from Base Aerienne 101 at Diori Hamani International Airport in Niamey, Niger’s capital, were providing “support for intelligence collection with French forces conducting operations in Mali and with other partners in the region." More recently, the New York Timesnoted that what began as the deployment of one Predator drone to Niger had expanded to encompass daily flights by one of two larger, more advanced Reaper remotely piloted aircraft, supported by 120 Air Force personnel. Additionally, the US hasflown drones out of the Seychelles Islands and Ethiopia’s Arba Minch Airport.
When it comes to expanding US outposts in Africa, the Navy has also been active. It maintains a forwardoperating location—manned mostly by Seabees, Civil Affairs personnel, and force-protection troops—known as Camp Gilbert in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. Since 2004, US troops have been stationed at a Kenyan naval base known as Camp Simba at Manda Bay. AFRICOM’s Benson portrayed operations there as relatively minor, typified by "short-term training and engagement activities." The 60 or so "core” troops stationed there, he said, are also primarily Civil Affairs, Seabees, and security personnel who take part in “military-to-military engagements with Kenyan forces and humanitarian initiatives."
An AFRICOM briefing earlier this year suggested, however, that the base is destined to be more than a backwater post. It called attention to improvements in water and power infrastructure and an extension of the runway at the airfield, as well as greater "surge capacity” for bringing in forces in the future. A second briefing, prepared by the Navy and obtained by TomDispatch, details nine key infrastructure upgrades that are on the drawing board, underway, or completed.
In addition to extending and improving that runway, they include providing more potable water storage, latrines, and lodgings to accommodate a future “surge” of troops, doubling the capacity of washer and dryer units, upgrading dining facilities, improving roadways and boat ramps, providing fuel storage, and installing a new generator to handle additional demands for power. In a March article in the National Journal, James Kitfield, who visited the base, shed additional light on expansion there. "Navy Seabee engineers,“ he wrote, "…have been working round-the-clock shifts for months to finish a runway extension before the rainy season arrives. Once completed, it will allow larger aircraft like C-130s to land and supply Americans or African Union troops.”
AFRICOM’s Benson tells TomDispatch that the US military also makes use of six buildings located on Kenyan military bases at the airport and seaport of Mombasa. In addition, he verified that it has used Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport in Senegal for refueling stops as well as the “transportation of teams participating in security cooperation activities” such as training missions. He confirmed a similar deal for the use of Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in Ethiopia.
While Benson refused additional comment, official documents indicate that the US has similar agreements for the use of Nsimalen Airport and Douala International Airport in Cameroon, Amílcar Cabral International Airport and Praia International Airport in Cape Verde, N'Djamena International Airport in Chad, Cairo International Airport in Egypt, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Moi International Airport in Kenya, Kotoka International Airport in Ghana, Marrakech-Menara Airport in Morocco, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Nigeria, Seychelles International Airport in the Seychelles, Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Botswana, Bamako-Senou International Airport in Mali, and Tunis-Carthage International Airport in Tunisia. All told, according to Sam Cooks, a liaison officer with the Defense Logistics Agency, the US military now has 29 agreements to use international airports in Africa as refueling centers.
In addition, US Africa Command has built a sophisticated logistics system, officially known as the AFRICOM Surface Distribution Network, but colloquially referred to as the “new spice route.” It connects posts in Manda Bay, Garissa, and Mombasa in Kenya, Kampala and Entebbe in Uganda, Dire Dawa in Ethiopia, as well as crucial port facilities used by the Navy’s CTF-53 (“Commander, Task Force, Five Three”) in Djibouti, which are collectively referred to as “the port of Djibouti” by the military. Other key ports on the continent, according to Lieutenant Colonel Wade Lawrence of US Transportation Command, include Ghana’s Tema and Senegal’s Dakar.
The US maintains 10 marine gas and oil bunker locations in eight African nations, according to the Defense Logistics Agency. AFRICOM’s Benjamin Benson refuses to name the countries, but recent military contracting documents list key fuel bunker locations in Douala, Cameroon; Mindelo, Cape Verde; Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire; Port Gentil, Gabon; Sekondi, Ghana; Mombasa, Kenya; Port Luis, Mauritius; Walvis Bay, Namibia; Lagos, Nigeria; Port Victoria, Seychelles; Durban, South Africa; and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
The US also continues to maintain a long-time Naval Medical Research Unit, known as NAMRU-3, in Cairo, Egypt. Another little-noticed medical investigation component, the US Army Research Unit-Kenya, operates from facilities in Kisumu and Kericho.
Key to the Map of the US Military’s Pivot to Africa, 2012-2013
Green markers: US military training, advising, or tactical deployments during 2013 Yellow markers: US military training, advising, or tactical deployments during 2012 Purple marker: US “security cooperation” Red markers: Army National Guard partnerships Blue markers: US bases, forward operating sites (FOSes), contingency security locations (CSLs), contingency locations (CLs), airports with fueling agreements, and various shared facilities Green push pins: US military training/advising of indigenous troops carried out in a third country during 2013 Yellow push pins: US military training/advising of indigenous troops carried out in a third country during 2012
Niger has given permission for U.S. surveillance drones to be stationed on its territory to improve intelligence on al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters in northern Mali and the wider Sahara, a senior government source said.
The U.S. ambassador to Niger, Bisa Williams, made the request at a meeting on Monday with President Mahamadou Issoufou, who immediately accepted it, the source said.
“Niger has given the green light to accepting American surveillance drones on its soil to improve the collection of intelligence on Islamist movements,” said the source, who asked not to be identified.
The drones could be stationed in Niger’s northern desert region of Agadez, which borders Mali, Algeria and Libya, the source said.
A spokesperson for the United States’ African Command (AFRICOM) declined to comment.
During an interview, an AFRICOM spokesman once expressed his worry to me that even tabulating how many deployments the command has in Africa would offer a “skewed image” of U.S. efforts. Behind closed doors, however, AFRICOM’s officers speak quite a different language. They have repeatedly asserted that the continent is an American “battlefield” and that — make no bones about it — they are already embroiled in an actual “war.” According to recently released figures from U.S. Africa Command, the scope of that “war” grew dramatically in 2014. In its “posture statement,” AFRICOM reports that it conducted 68 operations last year, up from 55 the year before.
Who decided in 2007 that a U.S. Africa Command should be set up to begin a process of turning that continent into a web of U.S. bases and other operations? Who decided that every Islamist rebel group in Africa, no matter how local or locally focused, was a threat to the U.S., calling for a military response? Certainly not the American people, who know nothing about this, who were never asked if expanding the U.S. global military mission to Africa was something they favored, who never heard the slightest debate, or even a single peep from Washington on the subject.
Three of the dead were American commandos. The driver, a captain nicknamed “Whiskey Dan,” was the leader of a shadowy team of operatives never profiled in the media and rarely mentioned even in government publications. One of the passengers was from an even more secretive unit whose work is often integral to Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which conducts clandestine kill-and-capture missions overseas. Three of the others weren’t military personnel at all or even Americans. They were Moroccan women alternately described as barmaids or “prostitutes.”
During the past 150 years Africa has been thrust into conflict, divided, enslaved and pillaged for its natural resources Today we see the West and its allies use the guise of ‘humanitarian’ need in Africa in order successfully secure oil contracts as well as other precious rare earth minerals Through the AFRICOM mission the military has and will be used to provide the muscle for land and resource control throughout the continent we are witnessing an accelerated takeover through proxy wars and corrupt business deals this is - Neo-Colonialism
Under President Obama, in fact, operations in Africa have accelerated far beyond the more limited interventions of the Bush years: last year’s war in Libya; a regional drone campaign with missions run out of airports and bases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and the Indian Ocean archipelago nation of Seychelles; a flotilla of 30 ships in that ocean supporting regional operations; a multi-pronged military and CIA campaign against militants in Somalia, including intelligence operations, training for Somali agents, a secret prison, helicopter attacks, and U.S. commando raids; a massive influx of cash for counterterrorism operations across East Africa; a possible old-fashioned air war, carried out on the sly in the region using manned aircraft; tens of millions of dollars in arms for allied mercenaries and African troops; and a special ops expeditionary force (bolstered by State Department experts) dispatched to help capture or kill Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and his senior commanders. And this only begins to scratch the surface of Washington’s fast-expanding plans and activities in the region.
The Pentagon says the U.S. is using surveillance drones to aid in the search for the kidnapped Nigerian girls, and almost 300 Marines have been moved to a naval air station in Sicily in response to the growing unrest in Africa.
May 14, 2014 (AP) - A senior U.S. official says at least one Global Hawk surveillance drone is in use, in addition to manned MC-12 aircraft.
The official was not authorized to talk publicly about the types of drones and discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren says the Marines were moved from a special task force in Spain to Sicily at the State Department’s request.
They’re mainly there to respond to the deteriorating security in Africa.
See? Drones are good! #BringBackOurGirls = #ImperialismMarchesIn
Africom was established under the George Bush administration, and commenced operations a few weeks before he left office. But it is under Barack Obama that Africom has truly come to life, establishing furtive but powerful bases in countries such as Uganda and Burkina Faso. However, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, which hosts several thousand US personnel and is undergoing steady and speedy expansion, is the only base on the continent that Africom officially recognises as such. For its part, Djibouti is already paying the price through a spate of drone crashes.
Drones are becoming a cornerstone of Africom’s strategy, especially for enhancing spy operations across the continent. A dedicated drone base was established in Niger this year, and drones have previously been distributed to countries for “fighting Islamists”. They are just one component of a larger supply of weaponry from Africom – such as fighter planes which, they caution, should arouse the least suspicion possible: “[We] don’t want covert aircraft, just friendly looking aircraft”.
In addition, Africom is currently soliciting contractors to transport “hazardous cargo including ammunitions…smoke grenades, blasting caps, rockets, mines and explosive charges” to various countries, and regularly conducts military-to-military exercises in conjunction with African troops across the continent. As summarised by Nick Turse, who has conducted the most comprehensive investigative journalism on Africom:
“They’re involved in Algeria and Angola, Benin and Botswana, Burkina Faso and Burundi, Cameroon and the Cape Verde Islands. And that’s just the ABCs of the situation. Skip to the end of the alphabet and the story remains the same: Senegal and the Seychelles, Togo and Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. From north to south, east to west, the Horn of Africa to the Sahel, the heart of the continent to the islands off its coasts, the U.S. military is at work. Base construction, security cooperation engagements, training exercises, advisory deployments, special operations missions, and a growing logistics network, all undeniable evidence of expansion – except at U.S. Africa Command. To hear AFRICOM tell it, U.S. military involvement on the continent ranges from the minuscule to the microscopic.”
Militarily Africa is fast becoming an American continent. Barack Obama, who has been president for all but the first year of AFRICOM’s existence, has succeeded in integrating U.S. fighting units, bases, training regimens, equipment and financing into the military structures of all but a handful of African nations and The great pan-Africanist and former Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah’s dream of a militarily united Africa has been all but realized with Americans and Europeans in charge and Under the guise of “humanitarian” intervention, Obama has vastly expanded Bill Clinton and George Bush’s African footprints, so that only a few patches on the continental map lie outside Washington’s sphere of operations Eritrea and Zimbabwe are the notable exceptions and therefore, future targets and Africa is occupied territory and The African Union doesn’t even pretend to be in charge of its own nominal peace-keeping missions, which are little more than opportunities for African militaries to get paid for doing the West’s bidding and China and Brazil may be garnering the lion’s share of trade with Africa, but the men with the guns are loyal to AFRICOM – the sugar daddy to the continent’s military class. U.S. troops now sleep in African barracks, brothers in arms with African officers who can determine who will sleep next week in the presidential mansion and The pace of U.S. penetration of West Africa has quickened dramatically since 2011 when Obama bombed Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan government out of existence, setting a flood of jihadists and weapons streaming east to Syria and south to destabilize the nations of the Sahel. Chaos ensued – beautiful chaos, if you are a U.S. military planner seeking justification for ever-larger missions and NATO’s aggression against Libya begat the sub-Saharan chaos that justified the French and U.S. occupation of Mali and Niger. Hyperactive North African jihadists, empowered by American bombs, weapons and money, trained and outfitted their brethren on the continent, including elements of Nigeria’s Boko Haram and The hausa-speaking Islamic warriors then bequeathed AFRICOM a priceless gift: nearly 300 schoolgirls in need of rescuing, perfect fodder for “humanitarian” intervention.Nobody had to ask twice that Obama “Do something!” and The heads of Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Benin and Cameroon were summoned to Paris (pretending it was their idea) where they declared “total war” on Boko Haram, as “observers” from the U.S., France, Britain and the European Union (Africa’s past and future stakeholders) looked on. French President Francois Hollande said “a global and regional action plan” would come out of the conference and Of course, the five African states have neither the money, training, equipment nor intelligence gathering capacity for such a plan. It will be a Euro-American plan for the defense and security of West Africa – against other Africans and Immediately, the U.S. sent 80 troops to Chad (whose military has long been a mercenary asset of France) to open up a new drone base, joining previously existing U.S. drone fields in Niger, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Somalia, the Seychelles Islands, Djibouti (home to a huge French and American base) and CIA sites that need not be disclosed and The new West African security grouping became an instant imprint of NATO, an appendage to be shaped by imperial military planners to confront enemies chosen by Washington and Paris and What a miracle of humanitarian military momentum! The girls had only been missing for a month, and might not be rescued alive, but five neighboring African countries – one of them the biggest economy on the continent – had already been dragooned into a NATO-dominated military alliance with other subordinate African states and It soon turned out that AFRICOM already had a special relationship with the Nigerian military that was not announced until after the schoolgirls’ abduction. AFRICOM will train a battalion of Nigerian Rangers in counterinsurgency warfare, the first time that the Command has provided “full spectrum” training to Africans on such a scale and With the American public in a “Save our girls” interventionist frame of mind, operations that were secret suddenly became public andThe New York Times reveals that the U.S. has been running a secret program to train counterterrorism battalions for Niger and Mauritania.Elite Green Berets and Delta Force killers are instructing handpicked commandos in counterinsurgency in Mali, as well and The identity of one Times source leaves little doubt that the previously secret operations are designed to blanket the region with U.S. trained death squads and Michael Sheehan was until last year in charge of Special Operations at the Pentagon – Death Squads Central – where he pushed for more Special Ops trainers for African armies. Sheehan now holds the “distinguished chair” at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center and In the 1980s, he was a Special Forces commander in Latin America – which can only mean death squads. “AFRICOM will train a battalion of Nigerian Rangers in counterinsurgency warfare.” and U.S. Army Special Forces have always been political killers, most often operating with the CIA. The Phoenix Program, in Vietnam, which murdered between 26,000 and 41,000 people and tortured many more, was a CIA-Special Forces war crime and From 1975 to deep into the 80s, the CIA and its Special Forces muscle provided technical support and weapons to killers for Operation Condor, the death squads run by a consortium of military governments in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil, believed responsible for 60,000 murders and Sheehan was probably involved in Operation Condor and its Central American component, Operation Charly, and has perfected the art of political murder, ever since and If he is happy and feeling vindicated by events in Africa, then U.S.-trained death squads are about to proliferate in that part of the world. There is no question that Obama is enamored of Special Ops, since small unit murders by professional killers at midnight look less like war and can, if convenient, be blamed on (other) “terrorists.” and However, history – recent history – proves the U.S. can get away with almost limitless carnage in Africa. Ethiopia’s 2006 invasion of Somalia, backed by U.S. forces on land, air and sea, resulted in “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa” at the time, “worse than Darfur,” according to UN observers, with hundreds of thousands dead and The U.S. then withheld food aid to starve out Somali Shabaab fighters, leading to even more catastrophic loss of life But, most Americans are oblivious to such crimes against Black humanity and U.S. ally Ethiopia commits genocide against ethnic Somalis in its Ogaden region with absolute impunity and bars the international media from the region. Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama each of them with help from Susan Rice – have collectively killed six million Congolese since 1996 and The greatest genocide since World War Two was the premeditated result of the chaos deliberately imposed on mineral-rich Congo by the U.S. and its henchmen in neighboring Rwanda and Uganda Paul Kagame, the current leader of Rwanda, shot down a plane with two presidents aboard in 1994, sparking the mass killings that brought Kagame to power and started neighboring Congo on the road to hell and America celebrates Kagame as a hero, although the Tutsi tribal dictator sends death squads all over the world to snuff out those who oppose him and Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni, a friend of the U.S. since Ronald Reagan, committed genocidal acts against his rivals from the Acholi tribe, throwing them into concentration camps and Joseph Kony was one of these Acholis who apparently went crazy and Kony hasn’t been a threat to Uganda or any other country in the region for years but President Obama used a supposed sighting of remnants of his Lords Resistance Army to send 100 Green Berets to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan and South Sudan became independent, but it remained unstable – not a nation but a place with oil that the U.S. coveted and Many tens of thousands more are certain to die in fighting in South Sudan but few Americans will blame their own country As the carnage in Congo demonstrates, whole populations can be made to disappear in Africa without most people in the West noticing and The death squads the Americans are training in Nigeria, Niger, Mauretania and Mali and those that will soon be stalking victims in Cameroon and Benin, will not be limited to hunting Boko Haram and Death squads are, by definition, destabilizing; they poison the political and social environment beyond repair, as Central Americans who lived through the 80s can attest and Yet, that is U.S. imperialism’s preferred method of conquest in the non-white world. It’s what the Americans actually do, when folks demand that they “do something.”