Mark P. Francher writes:
Army Times news service reported that the U.S. is expected to deploy more than 3,000 soldiers to Africa in 2013. They will be assigned to every part of the continent. Major General David R. Hogg mused: “As far as our mission goes, it’s uncharted territory.” But the presence of U.S. soldiers in Africa is nothing new, and even though Hogg is unwilling to admit it, the obvious mission is to lock down the entire continent.
The U.S. military has at least a dozen ongoing major operations in Africa that require hands-on involvement by U.S. troops. By ensuring that U.S. troops will be found in every corner of Africa, there will be little risk that any regions where U.S. interests are threatened will be left uncovered. For example, Mali has oil reserves and is strategically located, but it has been destabilized by a growing secessionist movement in the north. Conveniently, Mali has also been the site of a U.S. military exercise called “Atlas Accord 12” which provided training to Mali’s military in aerial delivery.
During this year, there have been other operations in other parts of the continent that were comparable in scale if not in substance.
"Cutlass Express” was a U.S. naval exercise that focused on what is purported to be “piracy” in the Somali Basin region.
“Africa Endeavor 2012” was based in Cameroon and involved coordination and training in military communications.
“Obangame Express 2012” was a naval exercise designed to ensure a presence in the Gulf of Guinea, an area that is in the heart of West Africa’s oil operations.
“Southern Accord 12” was based in Botswana and its objective was to establish a military working relationship between southern African military forces and the U.S.
“Western Accord 2012” was an exercise in Senegal that involved every type of military operation from live fire exercises to intelligence gathering to combat marksmanship.
There have been a number of other comparable exercises with names like: “African Lion,” “Flintlock,” and “Phoenix Express.” In addition, U.S. National Guard units from around the country have been rotating in and out of countries that include, among others: South Africa, Morocco, Ghana, Tunisia, Nigeria and Liberia.
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Though U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) suggests that the pending militarization of Africa by U.S. forces is mutually beneficial for all parties, it seems to have a more familiar purpose — oil exploitation exploration.
“[A] Congressional Research Service report made available by WikiLeaks. It says: “In spite of conflict in the Niger Delta and other oil producing areas, the potential for deep water drilling in the Gulf of Guinea is high, and analysts estimate that Africa may supply as much as 25 percent of all U.S. oil imports by 2015.” The document quotes a U.S. Defense Department official as saying: “…a key mission for U.S. forces (in Africa) would be to ensure that Nigeria’s oil fields…are secure.”
The motives of AFRICOM have long been held in contempt by many African nations.
It’s mission statement reads as follows:
Africa Command protects and defends the national security interests of the United States by strengthening the defense capabilities of African states and regional organizations and, when directed, conducts military operations, in order to deter and defeat transnational threats and to provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development.
The Resist Africom movement’s position is that the stabilization efforts will actually cause the opposite. Though U.S interests will be protected and emboldened in the face of growing investments from China, the continent will be bled dry, poverty will increase, and it will become even more dependent on the United States.
Before the untimely death of Muammar Gaddafi, he was a staunch opponent of AFRICOM. According to The Guardian UK, he invested “$150 billion worth of investment in Africa – often in social infrastructure and development projects,” in efforts to strengthen Africa and secure it’s independence.
Though AFRICOM faced strong opposition before Gadaffi was killed by U.S. led NATO forces, it has flourished since his death. President Obama infamously circumvented congress to invade Libya and faced massive criticism from both the left and the right — with some wondering if he were displaying the same cowboy political tendencies as his predecessor, George W. Bush.
Time will tell if the expanding relationship between AFRICOM and Africa will in fact benefit all equally, or if the Motherland will be reduced to another notch under the United States’ global belt.