Monday, January 10, 2011
As it is in Afghanistan, so be it with Africa?
Early in December the commander of U.S. Army Africa, Major General David Hogg, visited Algeria to meet with senior military and government officials to discuss “bilateral relations and regional issues,” including joint reconnaissance and training activities and “a future visit by Algerian soldiers to the United States to investigate how the Army integrates its lessons learned center into its training regime.”
U.S. Army Africa is the Army’s newest service component command and is based in Vicenza, Italy, assigned to AFRICOM and tasked with “developing relationships with land forces in Africa and supporting U.S. Army efforts on the African continent.”
The regional issues deliberated on by the American general and his Algerian counterparts relate to Algeria’s military campaign against Salafist insurgents and similar counterinsurgency operations throughout the Sahel, which consists of parts of Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia and Sudan.
At the end of last month U.S. military personnel assigned to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa and Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti participated in a combat casualty course in Burundi as part of a U.S. State Department-sponsored program. According to James Cobb, State Department program country manager in Burundi, “The course is part of a U.S. Department of State initiative to provide African armies an opportunity to partner with American defense forces to develop their peacekeeping skills for operations throughout Africa.”
In December the defense chief of Djibouti, Major General Fathi Ahmed Houssein, met with AFRICOM commander General William Ward at AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart to discuss “joint security cooperation activities and potential areas of further cooperation…in East Africa and throughout the continent.”
As the AFRICOM website puts it:
“Djibouti hosts approximately 3,000 U.S. and allied personnel at Camp Lemonnier, which is the only major U.S. military facility in Africa, though small teams of U.S. personnel work across the continent on short-term assignments. The main military organization at Camp Lemonnier is the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). A component of U.S. AFRICOM, CJTF-HOA sends teams throughout the East Africa region [to] protect U.S. and coalition interests.”
Among several joint programs, the generals elaborated plans for “Support to Djiboutian armed forces in the Eastern African Standby Brigade (EASBRIG) field training exercise, aimed to assess the readiness and capability of EASBRIG, a component of the African Union’s Africa Standby Force….”
And expansion of the “International Military Education and Training, a program that invites foreign military officers to attend military schools in the United States, and provides funding for trainers to provide specific, localized training in African countries.”
As well as the continuation of the “Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program, designed to improve African militaries’ capabilities by providing selected training and equipment required to execute multinational…operations.”
Ward and Houssein also discussed “other ways to increase support in building partner capacity in the Horn of Africa through the U.S. Defense Department’s 1206 program [to train and equip foreign militaries for "counterterrorism or stability operations"] and the U.S. State Department’s Partnership Regional East African Counter-Terrorism program,” especially in regard to Ugandan-Burundian AMISOM operations in Somalia.
Last month the defense chiefs of the twelve members of EASBRIG (presumably Eritrea was absent) met in the capital of Burundi to discuss “the Policy Framework for the Establishment of the Eastern Africa Standby Force [EASF] and the Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation between the Eastern Africa Standby Force Coordination Mechanism [EASBRICOM] and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development [IGAD] that aims to harmonise the relations of both institutions….”
NATO, which has been training African Standby Force staff officers at its training center in Oberammergau, Germany, has designated the NATO Joint Command Lisbon to implement the bloc’s military cooperation with Africa. Joint Command Lisbon has what it identifies as a Senior Military Liaison Officer at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (The territory of every nation in Africa except for Liberia, founded by the American Colonization Society in 1821-1822, was formerly ruled by nations that joined NATO: Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.)
On September 5, 2007 “the North Atlantic Council – NATO’s top political decision making body – agreed to provide assistance to the African Union with a study on the assessment of the operational readiness of the African Standby Force brigades,” according to the NATO website.
In the west of Africa, the Economic Community of West African States Standby Force brigade is being readied to intervene in Ivory Coast to depose President Laurent Gbagbo as the Dutch Defense Ministry announced last week that one of its ships was “heading for the coast of Cote d’Ivoire to provide supplies for French warships stationed there.”
U.S. Naval Forces Europe – U.S. Naval Forces Africa, which is headquartered in Naples, Italy and directs its operations through the U.S. Sixth Fleet, also headquartered in Italy, launched the Africa Partnership Station in 2007 as a naval component of AFRICOM. Warships assigned to it have visited several African nations on the east, west and south ends of the continent, among them Angola, Cameroon, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Reunion, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania and Togo.
Last month the Pentagon’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa Vicki Huddleston and the State Department’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto (who was ambassador to Ethiopia when it invaded Somalia in 2006) visited U.S. Africa Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. While there the Defense Department’s Huddleston asserted that “East Africa becomes extremely high for DOD [the Department of Defense] in terms of priority. So the highest priority for DOD, and therefore AFRICOM, becomes East Africa because of Somalia and then West (Africa), North Africa….”
Air strikes, drone and cruise missile attacks, special forces operations, helicopter gunship raids, counterinsurgency campaigns, multinational armed interventions, cluster bomb and depleted uranium weapons use, and the entire panoply of military actions associated with the Afghanistan-Pakistan war are already being conducted in Africa and will only be increased.