Posts Tagged 'department of State'

Maritime Security and Economic Development

The following blog is by Phillip J. Heyl, chief of the Air and Maritime Security Branch in the Strategy, Plans and Programs Directorate, U.S. Africa Command:

I just returned from a Consultative Workshop to develop a Maritime Security Strategy for Africa. The workshop focused on the role of Maritime Security on economic development: Not only in deterring threats to security from illegal activities such as illicit trafficking in drugs, arms and humans, and illegal fishing, but also on the positive effects of effective port security and extractive resource security in the maritime domain.

This workshop was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the discussion was led by the African Center for Strategic Studies and hosted by The Brenthurst Foundation. The Brenthurst Foundation is a Johannesburg-based think-tank focused on African development. Included were senior military and civilian leaders from Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Africa. We were also joined by our partners from Department of State, DoD(policy), U.S. Naval Forces Africa, and Institute for Strategic Studies (South Africa).

The working group will report its recommendations for a comprehensive Maritime Strategy to the African Union by the first of April 2010.

http://www.africom.mil/africomDialogue.asp?entry=1127

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Improving NCO Leadership Capability and Capacity

On 3/8/2010 4:22:57 PM Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka wrote:

I just returned from a trip to Africa where I visited with partner nation military leaders in Uganda, Kenya, and Senegal. At each location and during each engagement I was encouraged by the willingness of partner nations to improve their security related capabilities and capacities; and by the enthusiasm of U.S. trainers–both military and contractors–to conduct security related training activities in a way which contributes to overall stability in Africa.
By now, anyone who has been following my travels knows that my focus has been assisting partner nation militaries improve warrant officer (WO) and noncommissioned officer (NCO) capability and capacity in a way that improves the overall effectiveness of a force.

I am always reminded by the Department of State lessons learned and the should-be themes of our US engagements:

1. Personal relationships are crucial. Everything is personal and this means being on the ground in Africa among Africans.
2.Listen, listen, listen…talk is cheap. Listening is golden.
3.It’s for the long-term, not short term rotations or arbitrary timelines. Nothing happens quickly in Africa. Much will go wrong. Commitments and perseverance are essential.
4.Understand that actions speak louder than words. The image of America in much of Africa is that of a 20 year old Peace Corps volunteer who lives among the Africans, learns their language, earns little, and is eager to learn.

And so, the above is my mental framework for each of my engagements. As hard as I try, I don’t get it right all the time and often–due to the nature of my engagements–I don’t even get an opportunity to employ all the lessons learned. But I persevere. So let’s get on with my most recent engagements.

In Uganda we attended a Ugandan NCO Peace Support Operations (PSO) course graduation. The course was administered by the French Foreign Legion based out of Djibouti. Upon graduation the NCO graduates transition to additional PSO training delivered by US personnel; finally, the British Army will close out the PSO training with a field training exercise. This training evolution is the type of partnering which demonstrates the level of international commitment to preparing peacekeeping forces in Africa.

Our next stop in Uganda was in Kasenyi where the 1st Battalion, 65th Infantry from the Puerto Rico National Guard was partnering with Ugandan military instructors delivering additional training to Ugandan forces. Ugandan Peoples Defense Force (UPDF) is one of two countries participating in the current African Union Mission in Somalia and at the same time the UPDF are engaged in defeating the Lord’s Resistance Army. Our training and partnering event in Kasenyi is designed to hone existing skills and add additional capacity to support the UPDF in its current operations. For the US NCOs, it’s about teaching and coaching–as well as listening and learning from the UPDF NCOs and soldiers!

In Kenya, the Defense Sergeant Major (DSM) and I re-established and strengthened our relationship from the previous year’s engagement. We continued to discuss ways ahead regarding WO and NCO leader development opportunities in 2010. The DSM accompanied our delegation to Isiolo. Isiolo is the Kenyan Army Infantry Training Center. At Isiolo, USAFRICOM’s Special Operations Command is leading the training of two Kenyan Army Ranger Companies over the next several months. The DSM was grateful for the informative trip and we were grateful because we were able to listen and learn from the KAF’s most senior Warrant Officer who works directly for the Chief of the Defense Force. As always, the DSM and I promised to stay in contact with each other.

Our last engagement of this trip took us to Senegal. The timing of this engagement was propitious because USAFRICOM, the week before, had hosted a delegation from the Senegalese Armed Forces in Stuttgart for staff to staff talks. GEN Ward and LTGEN Fall, the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) closed out the week’s activities by receiving various staff briefings. Interestingly enough, one of the themes that were integrated in many of the areas discussed was NCO leadership development. So those discussions set favorable conditions for our engagement.

Another positive aspect of this engagement was the integration of the Vermont National Guard. The Vermont National Guard is Senegal’s State Partnership Program partner. The Vermont National Guard, for the past several years, has been conducting several partnership events with the Senegalese Armed Forces.

We started the week’s engagement at the Senegalese Armed Forces (SAF) HQs at Dial Diop where our delegation conducted talks with LTGEN Fall’s assistant CDF and various SAF senior staff members. We were provided the opportunity to deliver the “Improving NCO Leadership Capability and Capacity” briefing to the SAF senior leadership. By the end of the week we had provided that briefing six times; we also conducted two desk-side discussion briefings.

Clearly one of the highlights of the week was our visit to the NCO Academy in Kaolack–a 3.5 hour drive west of Dakar. The Senegalese NCO Academy is a two-year curriculum designed to graduate leaders who are prepared to assume the duties as SGTs in the SAF. The 2009 class is the first class to include females; additionally, each class includes a number of other Francophone country SGTs-to-be.

While in Kaolack, we also met Viola Vaughn, Ed. D, who is the Executive Director of Women’s Health Education and Prevention Strategies Alliance (WHEPSA) and 10K Girls Program team. WHEPSA focuses its efforts in educational development, small business development, and environmental development-all targeted at girls.

WHEPSA started in 2001 with 4 girls; today WHEPSA has 2500 girls enrolled in the regions of Kaolack and Kaffrine. The program targets girls and applies resources which focus on keeping them in school by providing tutoring services. The tutoring and after-school services have resulted in an 82% government education exam pass rate for rural girls enrolled in the WHEPSA, compared to a 28% pass rate for non-enrollees. The idea is to create opportunities for the girls to further their education in order to become productive contributors to their community and economy. Noteworthy, is the fact that WHEPSA has the support of religious leaders as well as social leaders. We were all pretty charged after that discussion…

The remainder of the week consisted of meetings and discussions with senior leadership of the Gendarmerie, various Zone Commanders, Home of the Senegalese Army Infantry in Thies, Senegalese Navy, Senegalese Air Force, and the Senegalese Army. We closed out the week with a final out-brief with the Assistant CDF. The Assistant CDF was appreciative of the week’s activities and once again restated how clear and simple our message had been all week. As the Senegalese look to improve their NCO leadership capability and capacity they will proceed at a measured pace; it will be a step-by-step process.

I have said time and again, “don’t sacrifice sustainability for speed”; so their measured pace approach is absolutely the right approach. And now, we must be as patience as our partners. They must know that we are the trusted and reliable partners we say we are…

Once again, I’ll go back to the four lessons learned stated in this blog and ask myself did I apply them? Did I apply them with purity of intention? I think I did, but time will tell and we must be patient.

http://www.africom.mil/africomDialogue.asp?entry=1056

Command Sergeant Major Mark S. Ripka became United States Africa Command’s senior enlisted leader in November 2007. He previously served as command sergeant major of United States Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia. Command Sergeant Major Ripka holds the highest-ranking enlisted position in the command, serving as the principal enlisted advisor to the commander. You can learn more about CSM Ripka at http://www.africom.mil/ripka.asp.

Hard Question to our Website – AFRICOM and DRC

Posted on Vince Crawley’s Africa Blog on February 24, 2010: http://vincecrawley.wordpress.com

When AFRICOM Works with DRC Troops, How Do We Know Our Training Won’t be Used Against Civilian Population?

U.S. Africa Command recently began working with the Light Infantry Battalion program in the DRC, with the goal of training a model battalion for the DRC military (known as the FARDC). This is an initiative by the U.S. Department of State, with the U.S. military in support.

A couple of days ago, an anonymous visitor posted a newspaper article on our Website about human rights abuses by militaries in the Congo. After the article, our visitor added,

I read this article and thought to myself, why are more people not getting involved?. The USA protects most other countries from things like this. Why do we Americans just turn our heads and look the other way? These people are dieing, suffering from hunger, disease, and the people that are ment to protect them are murdering them.”

Shortly after this posting came into our Website, we had a group of African journalists visiting us in Stuttgart. One of their main questions was, If the United States trains African militaries and improves their capability, how can we guarantee these well-trained troops won’t attack civilian populations or overthrow their government?

There are no easy answers, and these questions deserve thoughtful response. So, in consultation with the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, as well as with officials in Washington, we crafted an answer to the question and posted it on our website.

The question was in response to an article about U.S. Africa Command’s General Ward visiting the DRC in April 2009. http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=2940&lang=0– When the public provides feedback to our articles, the feedback appears directly below the main article, and our Public Affairs response then appears below the question.

The public feedback on our site read as follows, beginning with a story in the U.K. Guardian newspaper told through the eyes of a victim of violence in the DRC:

On 2/22/2010 10:24:49 PM, Anonymous in Unspecified said:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/05/congo-woman-recalls-war-crimes

Congo: “The soldiers meant to protect us are the same ones killing people”

Mupole Natabaro, 30, from Musurundi, recalls being gang-raped and left for dead by government troops who killed her family.
(by David Smith in Goma guardian.co.uk, Friday 5 February 2010 19.03 GMT)

One day the FDLR rebels attacked the government soldiers’ positions. They fought but the FDLR was not strong enough so they ran into the forest.
Then the government army came to the village. They said they were coming to protect us but they were nervous and their behaviour changed. They raped and killed people and burned them in their houses. Many died that day.
I was hiding in the bush near the village. I heard that my parents, younger brothers and three sons were killed on the same day.
I was running in the forest and met a government soldier. He took me and raped me. After that he went to call his colleagues to do the same thing. Five of them raped me. I felt bad. I was hurt in my stomach.
The soldiers took off all my clothes and left me in the forest. To the people who found me, I was like a dead person. They carried me to a nearby village and took care of me.
When my husband heard about what happened to me he said he could not live with me any more he could not be my husband any more. When I heard that I was really shocked. I have no parents, no children, no husband. It’s a bad situation. I’m not even able to buy soap.
I was shocked that the soldiers who came to protect us did this. If it was the FDLR I could understand better, but with the government army, it’s insane. They were former CNDP [another armed rebel group].
It’s not wrong for the UN to support government soldiers, but the soldiers meant to protect us are the same ones killing people.
It seems like this is the end of my life. I don’t know if I will survive after this. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I have hope in God. Only God knows the future. Maybe God can send good people to help me get better.
I still think about that day. When I think of my parents and sons and the poverty and misery I now live in, I don’t have peace. When I think about those government soldiers I’m angry, but at church they teach us to forgive. I sometimes say to God: Forgive those guys. [END of ARTICLE]

I read this article and thought to myself, why are more people not getting involved?. The USA protects most other countries from things like this. Why do we Americans just turn our heads and look the other way? These people are dieing, suffering from hunger, disease, and the people that are ment to protect them are murdering them. Anyone on this planet that can just forget what is goin on in the Ccongo and not say their peace, or do something to help is just as bad as the murderers and rapists. I watched a viedo of a man 19 years old that was from Rowanda say that if at time of war it is ok to rape the women. What are we teaching our children? In any country, this is wrong.

Our reply is below. Ordinarily I sign these answers myself, but this really was a team effort, including thoughtful input from several people.

On 2/24/2010 5:37:26 PM, AFRICOM Public Affairs responded

Thank you for sharing this poignant article and furthering awareness of this issue. Tragic stories like these, involving women and children, are an unfortunate reality in the DRC.

It is our mission at U.S. Africa Command to work with the DRC and other African partners to, over time, prevent conflict and instability that lead to violence, destruction, and reduce the quality of life of people throughout Africa. We are partnering with African militaries to create more stable environments in which democratic institutions can develop and assistance can reach those who need it the most. A key part to this objective is the reform of the country’s military to ensure it protects, rather than preys upon, its people.

On Feb. 17, 2009, U.S. and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) representatives gathered near Kisangani to mark the establishment of a light infantry battalion, which is intended to be a model unit for the future of the Congolese military. (See article at http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=4032&lang=0 .) The soldiers of this unit will undergo 6 to 8 months of training, as part of a U.S. government partnership with the DRC government. This training will support the DRC with its desire to transform its military into a professional, accountable and sustainable institution that provides meaningful security to the people of DRC. Human rights considerations and the respect for human rights in military operations will be incorporated into each aspect of the training, so as to prevent instances of rape and abuse described in the article you mention. In accordance with the Leahy Amendment of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, recipients of U.S. military training and assistance have been vetted through the U.S. Department of State for human rights abuses.

The main objective of the training is to develop a more professional DRC military force that respects civilian authority, protects its nation and citizenry, and contributes to regional stability.

In separate but related activities, US Africa Command legal experts have been involved with this issue for nearly three years now, primarily with the teaching of seminars through the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies. The goal of the many of the seminars is to address sex- and gender-based violence in the DRC by strengthening the capacities of the investigators and magistrates in the military justice system to investigate and prosecute these crimes, and in turn to move the FARDC closer to its goal of attaining professional, disciplined military standards.

We all hope that over time, stories like this one become less common, as the international community works together with the DRC, African nations and global partners towards a more stable, secure and prosperous DRC and Africa.

With deep respect,
The U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs team

For more on this issue, please see a group of articles I posted to our Website two years ago, in February 2008: U.S. Military Legal Experts Train DR Congo Military in Preventing, Prosecuting Sex Crimes
http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=1647&lang=0

This includes a U.S. Embassy press release about  a U.S. military workshop on gender-based violence issues, as well as a United Nation press release on the same issue.

Is AFRICOM Really Recolonising Africa?

Posted by Vince Crawley on January 12, 2010 in Vince Crawley’s Africa Blog at http://vincecrawley.wordpress.com.

A commentary by a South African political scientist has been getting wide circulation online the past few days. I’m posting it below in its entirety, in italics, with some of my own commentary.

Africom – Latest U.S. Bid to Recolonise Continent

January 7, 2010 by Tichaona Nhamoyebonde

http://allafrica.com/stories/201001070715.html

African revolutionaries now have to sleep with one eye open because the United States of America is not stopping at anything in its bid to establish Africom, a highly-equipped US army that will be permanently resident in Africa to oversee the country’s imperialist interests.

[U.S. Africa Command was established October 1, 2007, and assumed responsibility for all U.S. military activity in Africa on October 1, 2008, in a Pentagon ceremony attended by African diplomats posted to Washington, D.C. A follow-up ceremony October 17, 2008, in Stuttgart, Germany, was attended by representatives of the African Union (for example, see this transcript: http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=2215〈=. Thus, the command is well established and resident in Germany.]

Towards the end of last year, the US government intensified its efforts to bring a permanent army to settle in Africa, dubbed the African Command (Africom) as a latest tool for the subtle recolonisation of Africa.

[What actually happened was that the headquarters of U.S. Army Africa, subordinate to U.S. Africa Command, formally began its mission in late 2009. U.S. Army Africa is based in Vicenza, Italy, and its first major exercise was Natural Fire, based in northern Uganda.]

Just before end of last year, General William E. Garret, Commander US Army for Africa, met with defence attaches from all African embassies in Washington to lure them into selling the idea of an American army based in Africa to their governments.

[Just to clarify, Major General William B. Garrett III is commander of U.S. Army Africa, an Army-only headquarters based in Italy. His boss is General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), based in Stuttgart, Germany. There also is a U.S. Air Forces Africa, based in Ramstein, Germany; U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, , based in Naples, Italy; and U.S. Marine Forces Europe, based in Stuttgart. These all are planning headquarters with staff officers, not combat troops.]

Latest reports from the White House this January indicate that 75 percent of the army’s establishment work has been done through a military unit based in Stuttgart, Germany, and that what is left is to get an African country to host the army and get things moving.

[The White House source of this is not clear, nor is it clear what the 75 percent refers to. U.S. AFRICOM is fully established. The manning, half military and half civilian, has not reached 100 percent, but is well over 75 percent. The rest of the sentence suggests that we need to have our staff based in an African country to be effective. That’s not accurate, with the Internet, satellite communications and the like, we are quite effective from Germany. U.S. AFRICOM is not looking for a host country in Africa. We have a base with about 2,000 personnel in Djibouti, and that is our only base. As President Obama said in Ghana in July 2009, AFRICOM “is focused not on establishing a foothold in the continent but on confronting these common challenges to advance the security in America, in Africa, and the world. (For a good overview of U.S. policy in Africa, see his whole speech at http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=3205&lang=.]

Liberia and Morocco have offered to host Africom while the Southern African Development Community (SADC)  has closed out any possibility of any of its member states hosting the US army.

[Liberia is the only country to have publicly offered to host U.S. AFRICOM. That was back in 2007 when there was much discussion on AFRICOM’s location. Approximately seven other African nations privately expressed some degree of interest in hosting the command. However, the decision was made in late 2007 for AFRICOM to remain in Germany indefinitely. The command has a mission to view Africa from a continental perspective, which would be particularly challenging if the command were based in a specific country. This is not unprecedented — our U.S. Pacific Command is based in Hawaii, our U.S. Southern Command (for Latin America) is based in Miami, Florida.]

Other individual countries have remained quiet.

Liberia has longstanding ties with the US due to its slave history while errant Morocco, which is not a member of the African Union and does not hold elections, might want the US army to assist it to suppress any future democratic uprising.

[Liberia’s complicated history is related more to freed slaves and free African-Americans. It also became a destination for men and women who were aboard interdicted slave ships in the 1800s, when the trans-Atlantic slave trade became illegal. U.S. Navy ships took part in these interdictions, though never in large numbers. (For more on Liberia, see http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/6618.htm). Morocco, a kingdom, is not the only country in Africa that does not hold elections for its head of state. However, the 2007 parliamentary elections were judged by international observers to be free and fair (see http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5431.htm).  Morocco holds a special place in U.S. foreign policy in that it was the first country in the world to seek diplomatic relations with the United States, back in 1777, when the U.S. was a rebel colony whose future independence was far from certain. Every year, Morocco hosts a military exercise with the U.S. Marine Corps, called African Lion. And every year, the Moroccan press prints articles suggesting that African Lion means the U.S. military wants to establish a permanent base in Morocco. The most cited location is Tan Tan. None of these press reports are accurate.]

SADC’s refusal is a small victory for the people of Africa in their struggle for total independence but the rest of the regional blocs in Africa are yet to come up with a common position. This is worrying.

[As befitting sovereign nations, the U.S. has different relationships with different regional blocs. For U.S. AFRICOM, the most significant regional organizations are the five regional Standby Brigades of the African Standby Force. We work most closely with the ECOWAS-based brigade, even having a liaison officer assigned to ECOWAS. The U.S. military recently provided support for an EASBRIG exercise in East Africa.]

The US itself wanted a more strategic country than Morocco and Liberia since the army will be the epicentre of influencing, articulating and safeguarding US foreign and economic policies. The other danger is that Africom will open up Africa as a battleground between America and anti-US terrorist groups.

[Under the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. military is subordinate to civilian leadership. AFRICOM does nothing in an African nation that is not approved by the U.S. ambassador in that nation. Secretary of State Clinton seems to me to be a very strong-willed diplomat who would not let herself be pushed around by the military.]

Africom is a smokescreen behind which America wants to hide its means to secure Africa’s oil and other natural resources, nothing more.

[Nothing more? Taken to its logical conclusion, this line of reasoning might suggest that Africa has no strategic importance other than its oil and natural resources. A military headquarters also isn’t a very logical “smokescreen” for a hidden agenda.]

African leaders must not forget that military might has been used by America and Europe again and again as the only effective way of accomplishing their agenda in ensuring that governments in each country are run by people who toe their line.

[There are many governments around the globe that do not agree with the United States, to include close allies and partners who disagree with aspects of U.S. policies. Some of the countries most opposed to the U.S. entry into Iraq, for example, were European powers that host U.S. military forces.]

By virtue of its being resident in Africa, Africom will ensure that America has its tentacles easily reaching every African country and influencing every event to the American advantage.

[It’s not clear how being based in any one African country, or even half a dozen African countries, would allow tentacles to reach every African country.]

By hosting the army, Africa will have sub-contracted its military independence to America and will have accepted the process that starts its recolonisation through an army that can subdue any attempts by Africa to show its own military prowess.

[There are limits to military power. A survey of recent headlines will show that the U.S. military has its hands more than full with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where both countries had militaries much weaker than the best African armies, in relatively open desert terrain. I haven’t seen any studies, but I imagine that attempts to invade a modern African country would entail extraordinary costs in time, money and human lives.]

The major question is: Who will remove Africom once it is established? By what means?

By its origin Africom will be technically and financially superior to any African country’s army and will dictate the pace for regime change in any country at will and also give depth, direction and impetus to the US natural resource exploitation scheme.

There is no doubt that as soon as the army gets operational in Africa, all the gains of independence will be reversed.

[In the two examples I cited above, Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. government, U.S. President, U.S. Congress and U.S. public all are searching for ways to disengage effectively and leave behind stable governments. A U.S. military force trying to operate in Africa, if opposed by the local people, would meet such intense local opposition and international public condemnation that the mission would have no conceivable chance of success. It simply wouldn’t be worth the cost. The price of oil would skyrocket. Business trade would halt. And the U.S. government would be obligated to spend billions of dollars. Would it not be better to seek long-term stability and prosperous, reliable trading partners?]

If the current leadership in Africa succumbs to the whims of the US and accept the operation of this army in Africa, they will go down in the annals of history as that generation of politicians who accepted the evil to prevail.

Even William Shakespeare would turn and twist in his grave and say: “I told you guys that it takes good men to do nothing for evil to prevail.”

[Shakespeare’s Sonnet 94 is among my favorites. It speaks to the awesome power of restraint, of demonstrating strength by choosing not to abuse power:

“They that have power to hurt and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow,
They rightly do inherit heaven’s graces
And husband nature’s riches from expense;
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
Others but stewards of their excellence.”]

We must not forget that Africans, who are still smarting from colonialism-induced humiliation, subjugation, brutality and inferiority complex, do not need to be taken back to another form of colonialism, albeit subtle.

[We are in general agreement here, though I’m not certain that I’d say Africans suffer from an inferiority complex. Perceptions of colonialism can be powerful. Even if colonialism, thankfully, no longer exists in its classic form, powerful nations can be seen as intimidating or even unstoppable. Still, African nations and regional organizations, as well as the African Union, have shown increasing collective political will and political maturity. I believe they are able to enter into partnerships with other nations in such a way that they are able to protect their sovereignty and national interests, while cooperating with partner nations on shared interests.]

Africom has been controversial on the continent ever since former US president George W. Bush first announced it in February 2007.

[That’s true. But the controversy has significantly diminished now that the command is better understood. U.S. AFRICOM’s leaders have spent the past two years meeting with leadership across Africa to explain what we do .]

African leaders must not forget that under the Barack Obama administration, US policy towards Africa and the rest of the developing world has not changed an inch. It remains militaristic and materialistic.

[U.S. policy in Africa is not led by the military. The Department of State’s Africa Bureau was established in 1958. AFRICOM arrived on the scene half a century later. Go to the Websites of the dozens of U.S. Embassies across Africa, and you will see robust civil sector programs that dwarf anything being attempted by our U.S. military. See for example http://southafrica.usembassy.gov/, I just looked there and saw an announcement for an additional $120 million in antiretroviral funding — that’s nearly half the entire annual operating budget for U.S. AFRICOM.  For the priorities of U.S. policy in Africa, see http://www.state.gov/p/af/rls/rm/2009/117326.htm. The priorities include: Providing security assistance programs that sustain a peaceful, African-led continent; promoting democratic systems and practices; supporting sustainable, market-led economic growth; and promoting health and social development. The take-away from President Obama’s July 2009 speech in Ghana is, “Africa’s future is up to Africans.”]

Officials in both the Bush and Obama administrations argue that the major objective of Africom is to professionalise security forces in key countries across Africa.

However, both administrations do not attempt to address the impact of the setting up of Africom on minority parties, governments and strong leaders considered errant or whether the US will not use Africom to promote friendly dictators.

[Broadly speaking, U.S. Africa Command is most active in countries that share U.S. interests and goals, countries that often are regional, even global, leaders, or else long-time partners. The U.S. military has been working at this level in Africa for well over a decade. Our Department of State and U.S. Embassies determine the level of military engagement with each nation, and the process is watched over the U.S. Congress, which exercises its authority via control of annual funding. This is where the U.S. government is highly transparent. For example, the State Department’s annual foreign operations budget can be found at this link: http://www.state.gov/f/releases/iab/fy2010cbj/pdf/index.htm. Page 17 (xvii) of Volume One (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/123415.pdf) includes the following language with regard to U.S. diplomatic (nonmilitary) funding in Africa:

(From the U.S. Department of State)”Africa: The United States remains committed to doubling assistance to sub-Saharan Africa between 2004 and 2010 to $8.7 billion. The continued increases in funding for critical programs in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the overall trend of general increases in foreign assistance budget levels for the continent, clearly underscore an important message: Africa matters. The FY 2010 request places a priority on interventions critical to achieving sustainable progress and transformation in key African countries. Under the FY 2010 budget for Africa resources will be concentrated in countries critical to the continent’s stability, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Sudan. In addition, the request includes additional funds to address evolving needs in Somalia and Zimbabwe. Together, these key countries account for nearly half of the total request for the region. Recognizing that current investments in the region are heavily concentrated in the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other immediate health threats, the FY 2010 request also calls for significant increases in funding for democracy and governance, education, and economic growth. In particular, responding to growing food security concerns on the continent, the proposed budget substantially increases funding for agriculture. These resources complement the major U.S. investments in the health sector and the Millennium Challenge Corporation programs and help to ensure that these collective U.S. efforts lead to balanced and sustained long-term development progress throughout the region.”

Note the emphasis on non-military programs.]

(Back to the commentary by Tichaona Nhamoyebonde:)

Training and weapons programmes and arms transfers from Ukraine to Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Ethiopia and the transitional government in Somalia, clearly indicate the use of military might to maintain influence in governments in Africa, remains a priority of US foreign policy.

Ukraine’s current leadership was put into power by the US under the Orange Revolution and is being given a free role to supply weaponry in African conflicts.

[Ukraine’s largely peaceful Orange Revolution was far too complex to have been orchestrated by any outside power, and there were, in any case, competing outside powers. See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3211.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Revolution.]

African leaders must show solidarity and block every move by America to set up its bases in the motherland unless they want to see a new round of colonisation.

Kwame Nkrumah, Robert Mugabe, Sam Nujoma, Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, Kenneth Kaunda, Augustino Neto and Samora Machel, among others, will have fought liberation wars for nothing, if Africom is allowed a base in Africa.

[A remarkable list of names.]

Thousands of Africans who died in colonial prisons and in war fronts during the liberation struggles, will have shed their blood for nothing if Africa is recolonised.

[Thousands of Americans also died in our struggle against colonialism more than two centuries ago, so I well understand the sentiment and honor their sacrifice.]

Why should the current crop of African leaders accept systematic recolonisation when they have learnt a lot from colonialism, apartheid and racism? Why should the current crop of African leaders fail to stand measure for measure against the US administration and tell it straight in the face that Africa does not need a foreign army since the AU is working out its own army.

[Agreed. That’s why AFRICOM doesn’t want to set up any more bases in Africa, and why we work closely in support of the African Union.]

African leaders do not need prophets from Mars to know that US’s fascination with oil, the war on terrorism and the military will now be centred on Africa, after that escapade in Iraq.  

Tichaona Nhamoyebonde is a political scientist based in Cape Town, South Africa

[To learn more about what the U.S. military does in Africa, see www.africom.mil or www.facebook.com/africom]

Vince Crawley, a former journalist, is deputy public affairs officer and a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). See also http://vincecrawley.wordpress.com & http://twitter.com/VinceCrawley.

AFRICOM-related news clips for 5 January 2010

Africa Command Revamps Multinational, Interagency Cooperation Strategies

SIGNAL Magazine – By Maryann Lawlor

January 2010

The latest combatant command to join the ranks in the U.S. Defense Department has set out on a different mission than its well-established brethren. From its very conception, the U.S. Africa Command has been designed to help the nations in its area of responsibility to help themselves. Since its inception two years later, it has been fulfilling that vision with assistance from other U.S. government agencies in an area that comprises 53 countries that include more than 800 ethnic groups who speak more than 1,000 languages. In essence, it is not a typical combatant command.

http://bit.ly/8Rd32b

Exercise in Africa Breaks Many Molds

SIGNAL Magazine – By Rita Boland

January 2010

African nations are overcoming the tyranny of distance posed by their massive continent through an exercise designed to increase command, control, communications and computer capacity. Representatives from more than two dozen African countries met in Gabon at the end of last September through the beginning of October to test technology compatibility. The event helps build relationships and enhance interoperability during disaster relief and peacekeeping missions. The most recent effort built off past exercises and included a variety of first-time occurrences. It also identified new areas of need such as the addition of an information assurance technical working group.

http://bit.ly/4y3jyX

U.S. Marine Corps weighs merits of Africa task force

World Sentinel – By non-attributed author

4 January 2010

Talks are underway to add a special-purpose Marine air-ground task force to U.S. Africa Command, a move that would center on expanding efforts to train African militaries, officials say. The plan is "purely in the conceptual phase," said Master Sgt. Grady Fontana, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Africa, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. "… It´s just something that people are talking about as a way that can help support Africa Command."

http://bit.ly/5nMKBT

Delta 4 assigned to deliver military satellite into orbit

Spaceflight Now – By Justin Ray

4 January 2010

The U.S. Air Force has tapped the Delta 4 as its rocket of choice to launch the fourth Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft two years from now, officials announced Monday.

http://bit.ly/8oQ7Nn

U.S. helping get Nigeria’s C-130s back off the ground

Stars and Stripes – By Jennifer H. Svan

5 January 2010

Mideast edition-As the United States looks to build strategic partnerships with African countries, it’s investing a lot of hope in Nigeria.

http://bit.ly/4xvFmI

Bomb attempt a wake-up call for Nigeria

CNN – By Princeton N. Lyman

4 January 2010

Washington, D.C. (CNN) — Americans were alarmed to learn of the attempt to bring down an American airliner over Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day. But Nigerians were especially shocked to learn that one of their own, Umar Farouk AbdulMuttalab, was the perpetrator.

http://bit.ly/4zy8j8

Nigeria Regrets Inclusion on US Screening List

Voice of America – By Gilbert Da Costa

4 January 2010

Nigeria wants the US to reconsider its inclusion on a list of countries whose air travelers will be subjected to enhanced security screening techniques. The new security measures come into effect in response to the Christmas Day bombing attempt on a US airliner.

http://bit.ly/6sLlf0

Kenya Seeks To Deport Muslim Cleric To Jamaica

New York Times – By Alan Cowell

4 January 2010

LONDON — The Kenyan authorities were reported on Monday to be planning to deport a Jamaican-born Muslim cleric, Abdullah el-Faisal, who may have helped inspire the Nigerian man accused of trying to bomb an American airliner headed to Detroit on Christmas Day.

http://bit.ly/68nnYj

UN News Service Africa Briefs

Full Articles on UN Website

31 December 2009 – 4 January 2010

http://bit.ly/50BxQb

*Uptick in attacks forces UN food agency to shut down programmes in Somalia

*UN helping to monitor volcanic eruption in eastern DR Congo

*UN envoy urges Sudan to work for stability, security in 2010

*DR Congo: UN rushes food to thousands displaced by ethnic fighting

*UNICEF speaks out against child deaths in northern Nigerian clashes


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