Tag Archives: US Army Africa Command (Africom)

US Special Forces Wars: 2017

location of drone base in Niger

Yemen to Syria to Central Africa, the Trump administration is relying on Special Operations forces to intensify its promised fight against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups as senior officials embrace an Obama-era strategy to minimize the American military’s footprint overseas.

In Africa, President Trump is expected to soon approve a Pentagon proposal to remove constraints on Special Operations airstrikes and raids in parts of Somalia to target suspected militants with the Shabab, an extremist group linked to Al Qaeda. Critics say that the change — in one of the few rejections of President Barack Obama’s guidelines for the elite forces — would bypass rules that seek to prevent civilian deaths from drone attacks and commando operations.

The global reach of special operators is widening. During the peak of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly 13,000 Special Operations forces were deployed on missions across the globe, but a large majority were assigned to those two countries. Now, March 2017, more than half of the 8,600 elite troops overseas are posted outside the Middle East or South Asia, operating in 97 countries, according to the Special Operations Command.  Still, about one-third of the 6,000 American troops currently in Iraq and Syria are special operators, many of whom are advising local troops and militias on the front lines. About a quarter of the 8,400 American troops in Afghanistan are special operators.

In Africa, about one-third of the nearly 6,000 overall troops are Special Operations forces. The only permanent American installation on the continent is Camp Lemonnier [Djibouti], a sprawling base of 4,000 United States service members and civilians in Djibouti that serves as a hub for counterterrorism operations and training. The United States Air Force flies surveillance drones from small bases in Niger and Cameroon.

Elsewhere in Africa, the roles of special operators are varied, and their ranks are small, typically measured in the low dozens for specific missions. Between 200 and 300 Navy SEALs and other special operators work with African allies to hunt shadowy Shabab terrorists in Somalia. As many as 100 Special Forces soldiers help African troops pursue the notorious leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony. And Navy SEALs are training Nigerian commandos for action in the oil-rich delta.

The United States is building a $50 million drone base in Agadez, Niger, that is likely to open sometime in 2018 to monitor Islamic State insurgents in a vast area on the southern flank of the Sahara that stretches from Senegal to Chad.  Mr. Trump’s tough talk on terrorism has been well received in Chad, where American Special Operations and military instructors from several Western nations finished an annual three-week counterterrorism training exercise last week.

Excerpts from AERIC SCHMITT, Using Special Forces Against Terrorism, Trump Seeks to Avoid Big Ground Wars, Mar. 19, 20187

United States Wars in Africa: colonization and its logistics

SOCAFRICA_Logo.  Image from wikipedia

US Army Africa Command (Africom) wants private contractors to move military equipment and supplies from the US to Egypt and 55 other countries within its Area of Responsibility (AOR) starting this month (Sept. 2013).  This comes hard on the heels of a transport contract awarded by the US Army’s Transport Command (US-TRANSCOM) to Berry Aviation to provide to provide air transport service in support of operations in western and central Africa. This contract is reportedly worth $49 million.

A solicitation notice issued by Africom Surface Distribution Services (ASDS) from its contracting office in Vincenza, Italy, on August 5 seeks contractors who will provide “transportation services of intra-theatre cargo within the Africom Area of Responsibility (AOR) and Egypt.”  The solicitation adds: “The contractor shall provide all necessary resources including logistics support and management to perform surface transport and distribution of general cargo within all fifty five (55) nations of the Africom AOR and Egypt.  In the solicitation document, Africom says materials to be transported, “although normally general in nature will not include sensitive cargo but may include hazardous materials.”  The solicitation notice adds contractors will not be required to transport classified equipment and materials, gunpowder, ammunition or military weapons and explosives.  It also states the successful contractors will not be required to move military tanks, self-propelled armoured combat vehicles with weapons, aircraft and spacecraft including satellites, radar or radio devices for remote control of weapons and equipment.

These developments come when at least one American military watcher, Nick Turse of TomDispatch.com, maintains Africom is involved in the A to Z of Africa.  “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 US military is at work. Base construction, security co-operation engagements, training exercises, advisory deployments, special operations missions and a growing logistics network, all undeniable evidence of expansion—except at US Africa Command,” he wrote

Another solicitation notice (HTC711-13-R-R016) issued in July seeks dedicated fixed wing service for the deployment and extraction of US military personnel involved in operations in the central African region.  It specifies contractors must be able to transport personnel and willing to carry hazardous cargo including ammunitions for small arms, signal flares, smoke grenades, blasting caps, rockets, mines and explosive charges in the central African theatre of operations. “The contractor will be asked to routinely take off and land on improved and unimproved dirt airfields of a minimum of 1 800 feet in length to support resupply and personnel transportation requirements,” part of the solicitation note reads.  It said routine locations involved in the operations could include airfields such as Entebbe in Uganda, Obo and Djema in the Central African Republic. The operations will also support the training of counter-narcotics law enforcement agencies from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Niger, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Togo, Guinea and Mali.

Apart from these developments the US Military has been supporting construction all over Africa for its allies.  A report by Hugh Denny of the Army Corps of Engineers issued earlier this year references 79 such projects in 33 countries between 2011 and 2013 including Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia, The Gambia, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia with a reported price tag of $48 million.

In addition to creating or maintaining bases and engaging in military construction across the continent, the US is involved in near constant training and advisory missions. According to Davis, the command is slated to carry out 14 major bilateral and multilateral exercises by the end of this year. These include Saharan Express 2013, which brought together forces from Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Liberia, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, among other nations, for maritime security training; Obangame Express 2013, a counter-piracy exercise involving the armed forces of among others Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Togo; and Africa Endeavour 2013, in which the militaries of Djibouti, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia, and 34 other African nations took part.

And it’s not only on land and in the air that US forces are making their presence felt more. The Defense Logistics Agency is preparing to buy 65 000 metric tonnes of marine gas oil for Africom operations.

Written by Oscar Nkala and Kim Helfrich, US Army looking to contractors for African operations, defenceWeb. com  Sept. 17, 2013

See also Drone War in Africa (1), Drone War in Africa, US Trains Uganda Military