A flurry of military coups across Africa has disrupted the U.S. strategy of enlisting local armies to counter Islamist extremists and other security threats. The U.S. has trained thousands of African soldiers, from infantrymen rehearsing counterterrorism raids on the edge of the Sahara to senior commanders attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The programs are a linchpin of U.S. policy on the continent, intended to help African allies professionalize their armed forces to fight armed opponents both foreign and domestic.
But U.S. commanders have watched with dismay over the past year as military leaders in several African allies—including officers with extensive American schooling—have overthrown civilian governments and seized power for themselves, triggering laws that forbid the U.S. government from providing them with weapons or training.
COLUMBUS, Ga. — It was a rare sight, especially on American soil. Seated around nested U-shaped tables in the heart of the city’s renovated ironworks were senior military officials representing nearly three-quarters of Africa’s 54 UN-recognized countries.
They were there last week for the African Land Forces Summit, a week-long, U.S.-brokered annual conference that brings together army officials from across the continent and other countries that maintain a presence in Africa.
After five years of negotiations, followed by years of construction delays, the new American airbase in Niger has been completed. Called Airbase 201, it cost $110 million and is one of the most expensive U.S. Air Force foreign airbase construction projects even undertaken. The main purpose of the base is to improve surveillance and intel collection about Islamic terrorists in the region. That will be accomplished by basing UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) there along with some manned aircraft.
Then-Gunnery Sgt. Jarad Stout was sleeping in the early morning hours of Nov. 20, 2015, when the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, was attacked by gunmen affiliated with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The armed militants were holding about 170 people hostage, including a dozen Americans.
But when the Marine Raider, who was serving as a liaison to the U.S. embassy at the time, received word of an “active shooter,” he and his team were “out the door in five minutes.” Stout had very little initial information regarding the attack, but he devised a plan and led his team, braving grenades and small arms fire, to help rescue hostages.
Many Americans first became aware of U.S. military operations in Africa in October 2017, after the Islamic State ambushed American troops near Tongo Tongo, Niger, killing four U.S. soldiers and wounding two others.
Days after President Trump declared the Islamic State’s caliphate had been eliminated in Syria, the prime minister ofone of West Africa’s most turbulent nations urged the United States to shift attention to a rising extremist threat in the Sahel.
Malian Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga visited Washington this week to ask U.S. officials to bolster support for his country’s fight against terrorism, warning that the weakened Islamic State in Iraq and Syria could jump-start the flow of extremists across the Sahel, Africa’s arid northwest, worsen the region’s security and jeopardize American interests there.
U.S. military teams could join the cyclone rescue effort in Mozambique, a representative of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said, according to the minutes of a humanitarian meeting published on Thursday.
The top U.S. commander in Africa met with African leaders in Washington D.C. recently to discuss U.S. Africa Command’s role in the new National Defense Strategy and the value of partner capacity.
Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser engaged with 21 defense attachés and the African Union Ambassador to the U.S. in a wide-ranging discussion at the Africa House, addressing various strategies and common challenges on the continent, Africa Command said.
The US Navy and Nigerian Navy have commenced a multinational maritime excercise code named, Obangame Express 2019, in Lagos, Nigeria.
The maritime excercise was preceded with the commissioning of a maritime domain awareness training school that was equipped by the United States Navy. The school was commissioned on Thursday, March 14 alongside the opening ceremony of the multinational maritime exercise, Obangame Express 2019
Where is the United States at war? It’s a hard question to answer. Inevitably though, at least in the last four years, this sentence has changed little: American troops are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. But with a steady stream of airstrikes, militant deaths, alleged civilian casualties and two American troops killed in Eastern Africa since 2017, another country has since crept onto the list: Somalia.
On Sunday, my colleagues Eric Schmitt and Charlie Savagepublished a story about the escalating war there against the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Shabab, and how the number of American airstrikes in the country have steadily increased under the Trump administration. In 2018 alone, there were 47 strikes that killed 326 people. And 2019 is already on pace to exceed last year’s tallies.
While the Trump administration has very visibly made and modified plans to reduce U.S. military intervention in Syria and Afghanistan, it has quietly escalated the fight in Somalia. U.S. airstrikes in the North African nation are on the rise,The New York Timesreported Sunday, and that higher pace of bombardment has contributed to increased civilian displacement and all the turmoil that comes with it.
This is a foreign policy failure in progress. If the last two decades of missteps in the Middle East and North Africa have demonstrated anything, it is that secretive wars of choice are prone to mission creep and rife with unintended consequences. Rather than expand, U.S. military intervention in Somalia should be shut down before it spirals into another needless generational conflict.
The United States has had some military presence in Somalia for the better part of three decades, and the current campaign began in 2007. But U.S. strikes were few—zero to three per year—until 2015, when former President Barack Obama started an upward trend the Trump team has continued. Last year, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) reported 47 strikes. The first two months of this year put us on track to triple that by December.
You must be logged in to post a comment.