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.
You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests. This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. It’s really 19th century behavior in the 21st century.
John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, about Russia’s response to the fascist coup in Ukraine, on NBC’s Meet the Press, March 2, 2014
JOKE OF THE WEEK from the mouthpiece of the the U.S. administration that invaded Libya, threatens to bomb Syria, regularly massacres civilians with drones, proclaims its right to assassinate anyone anywhere anytime, is re-colonizing Africa, continues to occupy Afghanistan, etc.
Thanks to Tanya Gilbert
I wonder if Kerry’s speechwriters realize that they just wrote his epitaph…
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.”
No one expects Obama to offer anything on this trip that will reverse America’s declining share of the African market. That’s because the U.S. is not in the business of fair and mutually beneficial trade – it’s about the business of imperialism, which is another matter, entirely. The Americans ensure their access to African natural resources through the barrel of a gun. So, while the Chinese and Indians and Brazilians and other economic powerhouses play by the rules of give and take, the U.S. tightens its military grip on the continent through its ever-expanding military command, AFRICOM.
African Flag Officer Pins Former USARAF Soldier with Meritorious Service Medal
For soldiers, receiving a Meritorious Service Medal is a special if not fairly rare occasion. For Staff Sergeant Piedad Garcia, earning the MSM was coupled with an additional honor: Garcia’s award was presented by Brigadier General Joseph Kwankye, director general of Defence Communications and Information Systems of the Ghanaian Army in September 2011.