Major focus on Africa by US Military
The United States is playing a growing role in Africa’s military battles, using special forces advisers, drones and tens of millions of dollars in military aid.
Once again, the focus is Somalia, the lawless nation that was the site of America’s last large-scale military intervention in Africa in the early 1990s.
This time the United States is playing a less visible role, providing intelligence and training to fight militants across the continent, from Mauritania in the west along the Atlantic coast, to Somalia in the east along the Indian Ocean. Most worrisome to the United States is al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked group in Somalia that has recruited dozens of Americans, most of Somali descent.
The U.S. also announced this month it is sending 100 advisers, most of them special forces, to help direct the fight against the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa.
America has given Kenya $24 million in aid this year “to counter terrorists and participate in peacekeeping operations,” the U.S. Embassy said.
The U.S. is conducting counterterrorism training and equipping militaries in countries including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia to “preclude terrorists from establishing sanctuaries,” according to the U.S. Africa Command.
In Somalia, the U.S. helps support 9,000 troops from Uganda and Burundi to fight militants in Mogadishu, the Somali capital. In June, the Pentagon moved to send nearly $45 million in military equipment, including four drones, body armor and night-vision and communications gear.
U.S. drones launched from the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean also provide intelligence, and the pilotless planes are capable of being armed.
“The U.S. has really developed an interest in Africa that we just have never seen before,” John Pike of the Globalsecurity.org said. “Since I think an awful lot of it is being run out of Special Operations Command and out of (the CIA), I think it probably far larger than anyone imagines.”