View Full Version : AFRICOM plus US involvement in Africa 2018 onwards

12-27-2017, 05:53 PM
This is a new thread to gather the various components of the USA's involvement in Africa, largely in the continent south of the Sahara.

The previous thread Africom Stands Up (Merged thread) (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/Africom Stands Up (Merged thread)) covers 2006-2017, with 392 posts and 156k views. There are a few other threads scattered around, in particular the thread on Niger, which includes the ambush of a US SOF team with Nigerien soldiers.

There is a separate, closed thread:AFRICOM and the perception mess (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/AFRICOM and the perception mess) which upon review defies merging; it had 161 posts and 52k views.

01-13-2018, 07:18 PM
The Enduring American Military Mission in Africa

Some questions to AFRICOM's Brigadier General Donald C. Bolduc.

01-14-2018, 05:09 PM
One must wonder how AFRICOM, let alone the USA, will be seen after President Trump's '#### hole' remarks that labeled all of Africa.

02-26-2018, 06:16 PM
This report needed a home even if this thread does not readily seem the best place. Well it does refer to the thread faced by AFRICOM and others.

'Evolving Terror The Development of Jihadist Operations Targeting Western Interests in Africa' by FDD's SME. It is 41 pgs and not read today.

02-27-2018, 03:42 PM
Hat tip to WoTR for a summary article by one of the report's authors and here is why it is important:
..between January 2007 and December 2011 — as the impact of the Arab Spring revolutions was just beginning to be felt — jihadists carried out 132 successful, thwarted, or failed attacks against Western interests in Africa. This figure nearly tripled to 358 attacks between January 2012 and October 2017.

03-13-2018, 11:06 PM
Sorry for the long hiatus. My response to this thread will be a bit off tangent, but let me make a few points with respect to Africa's evolution.

1. In Nigeria, youth under/unemployment is in the 40% range. Population growth rate is around 2.6%. There is no military solution for a looming demographic crisis - lack of jobs etc. So AFRICOM might be largely irrelevant in the scheme of things. The future will happen, with or without AFRICOM.

2. As youth unemployment rises, the ability of African Governments to provide public goods is on the decline. In Lagos, Nigeria, at least 40% (and probably more) of the primary school students attend private schools - for two main reasons - there are simply not enough public schools and public schools are of mediocre quality. Outside Lagos, public schools are even worse, but we are breeding a generation that has seen very few benefits from the State, and is very likely to grow up to challenge the State.

3. Trump (and his administration) do not believe in "Climate Change", but climate change is one of the major drivers of migration from the Sahel to the Middle Belt and Coastal regions. Climate change also led to the disappearance of Lake Chad (and if you guessed it, Boko Haram emerged from the Lake Chad Region).

4. The major internal security challenge in Nigeria is no longer Boko Haram, it is violent clashes between Fulani herders and local farmers (73 people were killed ON A SINGLE DAY in Benue State, early this year). This conflict hits at the very core of ethnic and religious differences. (There is also speculation that some Boko Haram veterans are involved in this ever expanding conflict).

5. It all boils down to a governance deficit. AFRICOM will support Idris Debby and Paul Biya (who are despised in their various nations, Biya cut off Internet access to the South West region for months, and he's done this several times). At the end of the day, you get no thanks for uncritically supporting dictators who have plied their trade for decades.

6. Africa had a difficult 19th and 20th Century. It will have a difficult 21st Century. I can't see AFRICOM as part of the solution to our deep seated problems. Some time in the 2030s (at the latest), US will pack their bags and leave. We either solve our economic and governance problems, or sink. (If you doubt me, check the poverty statistics on the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics website).

06-21-2018, 08:57 AM
Moderator adds

Four posts on recent events in Somalia, in July 2018, which include references to US activity, have been moved to the main thread on Somalia (ends).

A critical overview by a veteran Reuters journalist, which seeks to answer:
an important question: At a time when U.S. military engagement in Africa is growing rapidly, who exactly is doing the mythmaking and the lying?

The U.S. military obscures the nature of its actions in Africa through ambiguous language and outright secrecy. It limits the amount of information available about the objectives of its operations, how those operations are carried out, the facilities it uses, and how it partners with governments in the region. At times, this has involved subverting democratic processes in partner countries, an approach that runs counter to years of diplomatic engagement ostensibly designed to strengthen governance institutions.

(Ends with)....this military-first focus comes at the expense of a more robust relationship with many African countries, one rooted in the democratic values Washington once claimed to prioritize across the continent. This means that while U.S. soldiers are becoming more vulnerable to attacks like the Niger ambush, their presence risks weakening the institutions of the states they’ve been sent to support.


08-03-2018, 12:25 AM
One must wonder how AFRICOM, let alone the USA, will be seen after President Trump's '#### hole' remarks that labeled all of Africa.

I don't think any African policy maker believes Trump is a friend of the continent, or takes the continent seriously or has anything apart from barely concealed disdain about the continent.

But that is not the most important issue; Trump slammed tariffs on Rwanda for banning the importation of second hand clothing from US and Trump is also threatening South Africa with tariffs and for voting against them in the UN - and not supporting the movement of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Any smart person knows that US considers Africa to be strategically irrelevant. Trump makes it painfully obvious.

You can't say US is thinking 10 - 20 years down the line with respect to its engagement with Africa. It is clear they don't think Africa has any role to play in America's future - especially with the shale boom and the end of US dependence on foreign energy supplies.

12-13-2018, 06:38 PM
A long article that tries to cover many issues and two passages:
National Security Advisor John Bolton is scheduled to unveil the Trump administration’s new strategy for the continent in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation on Thursday. It is expected to focus on countering near-peer adversaries rather than counterterrorism. The White House is not expected to ask for more funding for diplomacy, intelligence gathering or foreign aid, according to NBC News (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/trump-admin-looks-counter-china-russia-s-growing-power-africa-n945171).

The announcement comes just weeks after the Pentagon said it would be cutting 10 percent (https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/15/politics/us-reduce-troops-africa/index.html) of its troop presence in Africa over the next several years, including half of the counterterrorism forces operating in West Africa. The Defense Department said in a statement that the goal was to “realign our counter-terrorism resources and forces operating in Africa over the next several years in order to maintain a competitive posture worldwide.”
Link:https://www.defenseone.com/politics/2018/12/small-wars-great-power-trumps-africa-reset-could-change-us-militarys-role/153485/? (https://www.defenseone.com/politics/2018/12/small-wars-great-power-trumps-africa-reset-could-change-us-militarys-role/153485/?utm_source=RC+Defense+Morning+Recon&utm_campaign=8dd61497ea-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_12_13_09_40&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_694f73a8dc-8dd61497ea-81835773)

12-17-2018, 07:56 PM
Cross-posting a SWJ article as it is very relevant here and is by the former AFRICOM CO.

01-24-2019, 01:41 AM
Remember the air support delay (despite French alacrity) in the Niger SF ambush?

U.S. Africa Command is hoping to finish two new air bases in 2019, one in Niger and one in Somalia, to stage operations against militants in the region. Niger Air Base 201, a future hub for armed drones and other aircraft, was supposed to be completed this year. The region’s difficult weather and harsh conditions are pushing completion back to the middle of 2019, officials told Air Force Times.

Air Base 201 will eventually house the U.S. armed drone mission in Niger that currently operates out of Niger’s capital, Niamey.

In the Lower Shabelle region of southern Somalia, a former Soviet-built air base called Camp Baledogle is being refurbished and converted to better handle the evolving multinational mission in the country.


05-29-2019, 10:04 AM
A short commentary by Paul Rogers and the sub-title gives the context:
Where people have few life chances and little help from the government, the militants’ promise of order and basic services is winning recruits.

Adding this comment on Burkina Faso by a journalist:
The country’s poorest regions in the north and east have been neglected, with the government providing minimal health services, education, jobs and infrastructure. Locals have in response taken up arms and forged links with militant groups who promised, and delivered, more services than the state.

Added here as it provides the context for AFRICOM, even if it is reducing in size due to President Trump's decisions.

07-30-2019, 11:11 AM
IIRC the author is opinionated and critical of AFRICOM, but that caveat aside his article does pose questions. Notably:
since AFRICOM began, key indicators of security and stability in Africa have plummeted according to the Defense Department’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a Pentagon research institution. “Overall, militant Islamist group activity in Africa has doubled since 2012,” according to a recent analysis (https://africacenter.org/spotlight/fronts-fluctuate-in-battle-against-african-militant-islamist-groups/) by the Africa Center.

If AFRICOM's role is to help nation-states combat jihadist insurgencies then neither "roll-back" or containment appears to be working. The author contends, in part supported by the DoD analysis, it is making things worse.