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USA/Africa: Africom vs. Peacekeeping

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Mar 14, 2008 (080314)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

The Bush administration budget for fiscal year 2009 (Oct 2008 to Sep 2009), yet to be approved by Congress, allocated $1,300 million for bilateral military programs related to Africa, including $400 million for the new AFRICOM military command, covering all of Africa except Egypt. In comparison, $1,497 million is proposed for the U.S. share of UN peacekeeping operations, leaving the U.S. $1,772 million in arrears on its UN peacekeeping obligations, in addition to some $700 million in arrears on the regular UN budget.

A coalition of U.S. NGOs is strongly opposing this acceleration of U.S. military involvement in Africa, with a campaign to Resist Africom ( But so far few Washington policymakers have challenged the administration's presentation of the command as necessary for anti-terrorism and useful in supporting peace and development.

Even though the U.S. bilateral budget does include some support for peacekeeping operations, critics say that the military bias will, as in the past, contribute to human rights abuses and ongoing conflict rather than promoting security based on African needs.

The record of U.S. bilateral military engagement, whether in Africa or elsewhere in the world, provides little evidence to support the view that the effects will be positive. Those who support AFRICOM should have the burden of proof to the contrary. If anyone can cite an example of successful U.S. bilateral military engagement in terms of promoting peace and reconstruction, in the period since the post-World War II reconstruction of Germany and Japan, AfricaFocus would welcome referrals to evidence of such cases.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a recent article on AFRICOM from Foreign Policy in Focus (, an update on the U.S. budget and UN peacekeeping from the Better World Campaign (, and an article by Daniel Volman on military aspects of the Bush administration budget proposals.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on related issues, see and

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

Militarizing Africa (Again)

Daniel Volman and Beth Tuckey | February 21, 2008

Editor: John Feffer,
Foreign Policy In Focus

FPIF analyst Daniel Volman is the director of the African Security Research Project in Washington, DC, and a member of the board of directors of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars. He is the author of numerous articles and research reports on U.S. military activities in Africa. FPIF Analyst Beth Tuckey is the associate director of Program Development and Policy at Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) in Washington, DC.

In February 2007, President Bush announced that the United States would create a new military command for Africa, to be known as the Africa Command or AFRICOM, to protect U.S. national security interests on the African continent. Previously, control over U.S. military operations in Africa was divided between three different commands: European Command, which oversaw North Africa and most of sub-Saharan Africa; Central Command, which had responsibility for Egypt and the Horn of Africa; and Pacific Command, which administered the Indian Ocean and Madagascar.

The new command set up shop in Stuttgart, Germany in October 2007, as a sub-command of the European Command, and is scheduled to become a separate, fully independent command in October 2008. The Pentagon intends to establish a headquarters or set of regional headquarters on the African continent. But Liberia is the only country that has publicly offered to host AFRICOM, and the issue remains unresolved.

The Pentagon claims that AFRICOM is all about integrating coordination and "building partner capacity." But the new structure is really about securing oil resources, countering terrorism, and rolling back Chinese influence. Given AFRICOM's emphasis on defense over diplomacy, resistance to the initiative is possible not only from civic movements but even the U.S. State Department.

Real Reasons for AFRICOM

Professional military officers have made it clear that the new Africa Command has three main purposes. First and foremost, the new command's main mission is to protect American access to Africa's oil and other resources, preferably by enhancing the ability of African allies to guard these resources themselves on behalf of the United States. But, to prepare for the day that Washington decides to try to use American troops in a desperate bid to keep them flowing, the United States is also acquiring access to local African military bases and dramatically expanding its naval presence off Africa's coastline, especially in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea region. Imports from Africa are expected to reach 25% by 2015, making Africa one of the largest future suppliers of U.S. oil - larger even than the Persian Gulf.

The new command will also expand and intensify counter-terrorism operations in Africa and will make the continent a central battlefield in the Global War on Terror. Through AFRICOM, the Pentagon will intensify and extend U.S. counter-terrorism operations in Africa as well as its involvement in counter-insurgency warfare and other internal security operations in African countries. American troops are already engaged in combat operations in Somalia where air and naval strikes aimed at alleged al-Qaeda members instead killed dozens of Somali civilians in January and June 2007 and U.S. troops were engaged in combat-support operations in Mali in September 2007.

Finally, the new command is designed to counter China's efforts to increase its influence and its access to African oil and other raw materials. The creation of AFRICOM is one element of a broad effort to develop a "grand strategy" on the part of the United States to compete with, and eventually restrain China's activities. It is also intended to demonstrate to Beijing that Washington will match China's actions, thus serving as a warning to Chinese leaders that they should restrain themselves or face possible consequences to their relationship with America as well as to their interests in Africa.


AFRICOM will take over the implementation of a growing and truly frightening array of military, security cooperation, and security assistance programs conducted either by the State Department or by the Defense Department (DoD). Through these programs, the United States provided more than $240 million worth of military equipment and training to African countries in FY 2006 and more than $500 million worth in FY 2007. AFRICOM will also take over operational control of two task forces. The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa based at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti is conducting raids into Somalia; the Joint Task Force Aztec Silence based in Sigonella, Italy is conducting intelligence, surveillance, and combat-support missions in North and West Africa. To support AFRICOM, the United States is also dramatically expanding its naval presence off Africa's coastlines, particularly in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea region, and has negotiated agreements with at least 10 African countries to ensure access to local military bases by U.S. troops in times of crisis.

This expansion of U.S. military operations in Africa is cause for serious alarm. The Bush administration has clearly given priority to defense above diplomacy - a power imbalance that is likely to result in further destabilization of the African continent. AFRICOM is a command designed to fulfill a short-sighted and ultimately self-destructive vision of U.S. global interests to expand the War on Terror and to satisfy America's hunger for oil and other resources. Such self-interested goals will be to the detriment of African civilians whose needs and concerns will be overshadowed by special interest groups like oil companies and private military contractors.

Africans are not asking for AFRICOM. In fact, most African civilians, governments, and many regional bodies have voiced a vehement "no" to the presence of an American military force in their backyard. Though there will always be exceptions to the rule, the Department of Defense has said it will not go where it is not welcome. Thus, a stance of opposition from the African Union (AU) would send a clear message to the Bush administration that its flawed command is not acceptable to the people or the nations of Africa.

Opposition Mounts

President Bush recently unveiled his Defense Budget for FY2009 a budget that is unsustainable and unnecessary for achieving true global security. Within it lies a line-item of $389 million for AFRICOM's current operations in Stuttgart, Germany. Embedded further is the budget for current U.S. defense engagements in Africa all of which will come under the AFRICOM heading. With pressure from the American people, the U.S. Congress can eliminate this ill-conceived Rumsfeld plan from the bloated budget.

It is also imperative that Congress be provided with recommendations for AFRICOM in order to shape the command in the most progressive way possible. Though total elimination of AFRICOM's budget is preferable, Congress can also utilize its power of oversight to ensure that the interests of Africans are upheld. Congress can set specific restrictions on AFRICOM finances to make certain that private defense contractors will never be used to carry out the mission of the command. It can also enact legislation that requires the Pentagon to submit regular reports to Congress on AFRICOM's activities, budget, and how military and civilian partnerships are evolving in the field.

Like Congress, the State Department can play a key role in the movement to oppose AFRICOM. Its duties and oversight are slowly being chipped away by a defense policy that encompasses civilian activities. Although AFRICOM staff argues that the State Department will remain central to African affairs, the inter-agency coordination of AFRICOM is structured to give unprecedented power to the Pentagon. Ambassadors and U.S. Agency for International Development personnel must remain at the head of U.S. foreign operations in Africa. They should feel empowered to demand an increased budget and a clear delineation of the command structure such that diplomatic efforts are not contingent upon the opinions of a military general.

Not only are the activities and structure of the command contentious, but the issue of erecting a headquarters on the continent is particularly alarming, especially to Africans. Liberia offered to host the command in the hopes that AFRICOM will generate jobs and infrastructural development for Liberia's struggling economy. Unfortunately, global examples show that U.S. military bases tend to offer relatively little to the communities where they are built and in fact are liable to increase instability or human rights abuses in the long term. In 2001, the United States constructed a base in Manta, Ecuador as a means of expanding U.S. involvement in the drug war and Plan Columbia. Many local Ecuadorians expressed deep, negative sentiments toward Plan Colombia because of the spillover violence and refugees onto their land. In Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the U.S. government has defended repressive dictators in order to maintain its military presence and access to oil, despite the negative impact on the people of the region. If history is any indication, the United States will prioritize its headquarters construction on what is in the strategic best interest of the United States, regardless of the consequences for democracy and human rights in Africa.

Many African governments and regional bodies have noted the potential for further militarization and have voiced objection to a headquarters on the continent. According to Southern African Development Community's (SADC) Defense Minister Mosiuoa Lekota, "Africa has to avoid the presence of foreign forces on its soil, particularly if any influx of soldiers might affect relations between sister African countries." SADC is comprised of 14 southern African nations and has adopted a regional stance against AFRICOM and foreign military presence. As such, the Pentagon has made a concerted effort to shift the rhetoric away from "base" or "headquarters" and toward "lilypad" or "office." Regardless of the language or the final outcome, AFRICOM will have access to several military bases on the continent and will use the surrounding waters to push Bush's defense agenda forward.

Ultimately, peace and democracy in Africa are elements that can be attained if the United States is willing to work in concert with Africans to determine their needs and desires. Washington can assist in boosting education, jobs, and health care on the continent. It can offer debt relief and an elimination of unjust trade policies. A new administration may provide a reprieve from the heavy-handed defense policy of President Bush, but resisting AFRICOM now is the best way to ensure a fair and just U.S. foreign policy. Once AFRICOM is set in place, it will be increasingly difficult to draw it back. Pushing a diplomatic strategy that relies on true partnership with African governments, the African Union (AU), and African Civil Society is the only approach that is truly in the mutual, long-term interests of the American people and the citizens of Africa's many nations.

On Eve of Rice Testimony and Presidential Trip to Africa, Better World Campaign Warns of Sharp Budget Shortfalls and Massive Unpaid Bills for UN Peacekeeping

Better World Campaign

February 13, 2008

Press contact: Katherine Miller UN Foundation/Better World Campaign (o) 202.887.9040 (e)

Washington, D.C. (February 13, 2008) In advance of U.S. President George W. Bush's upcoming trip to Africa and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's testimony on the Administration's fiscal 2009 international affairs budget request, the Better World Campaign today urged Congress to scrutinize the Administration's anemic funding request and growing mountain of unpaid bills for UN peacekeeping missions in Africa and around the world. What follows is a statement by Deborah Derrick, Executive Director of the Better World Campaign.

"The United States is already more than $1 billion behind in honoring its commitments to UN peacekeeping, and the Administration's budget request would add at least another $600 million to our growing and worrisome unpaid peacekeeping assessments. UN peacekeeping is a tremendous value for the United States, ensuring that we don't have to pay all the bills or take all the risks for securing peace and stability in the world. By working with other nations, we can promote peace at a fraction of the cost. Simply put, in today's complex and dangerous world the United States can't afford to go it alone and therefore we can't afford not to pay our fair share of international peacekeeping.

"Shortchanging UN peacekeeping missions severely undermines the budget's stated goal of helping to 'end conflicts, restore peace, and strengthen regional stability.' It also complicates President Bush's planned trip to Africa next week. There are a variety of difficult conflicts underway in Africa stretching across the continent from Sudan and Chad in North Africa to Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa's heartland to Cote D'Ivoire and Liberia in the West. UN peacekeeping is essential to maintaining basic stability in these areas, but the Administration's budget has significant shortfalls in funding for each of these missions.

"Full payment of dues to the UN is a necessary step in advancing our national interests and moral obligations in Africa and also can help improve the U.S. image in the international community. America's reputation and standing are not helped when we call and vote for but don't pay our fair share of new and bigger U.N. peacekeeping operations in places like Darfur and Chad. Congress and the Administration need to work together in the coming months to ensure that the United States honors fully its commitments to UN peacekeeping. Great nations pay their bills."

Growing U.S. Debt to the UN

Better World Campaign

The U.S. government is by far the largest debtor to the United Nations and is falling further behind in dues payments to the UN and its affiliated agencies. As detailed in the chart below, the U.S. begins 2008 with $1.5 billion in arrears at the United Nations. The President's proposed budget for FY 2009 will likely push U.S. arrears to more than $2 billion.

##Anticipated FY 2009 Budget Request for UN Peacekeeping##

Total FY 2009 Needs $2,064 million* Anticipated FY 2009

Administration Budget Request      $1,497 million
Anticipated FY 2009 Shortfall      $567 million

*The State Department is anticipating FY 2009 assessments to be $1,929 million due to assumptions about particular missions.

##Debt in UN Peacekeeping##

FY 2008 Shortfall for Darfur (UNAMID)        $334 million
Peacekeeping cap arrears, FY 05-FY 07        $334 million
All other arrears 2005-2008                  $266 million
Pre-Helms-Biden Arrears                      $451 million
Anticipated FY 2009 Shortfall      $1,195 million

The first and largest source of permanent U.S. arrearages to the United Nations is U.S. government under-funding of UN peacekeeping missions. This is debt that is being absorbed by allies that are providing troops for U.S.-endorsed peacekeeping missions - countries like India, Kenya, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It is growing even as the U.S. actively presses for more, renewed, and expanded UN peacekeeping missions, most notably of which is the joint UN-AU peacekeeping mission to Darfur.

Congress and the Administration have taken some actions to address shortfalls to UN peacekeeping over this past year. In the final FY 2008 appropriations deal, Congress increased the UN peacekeeping account by $583 million, $390 million to address an additional $724 million requested by the President in the FY 2008 supplemental for the UN-AU peacekeeping mission and $193 million to pay for peacekeeping shortfalls overall.

Yet the final FY 2008 funding did not include $334 million still needed for Darfur. And $861 million in other arrears have not even begun to be addressed. On top of this, the Better World Campaign understands that the White House (its Office of Management and Budget) is in the process of under funding the FY 2009 UN peacekeeping account by another $567 million. If left unaddressed, the U.S. will be headed well beyond $2 billion in permanent arrears at the UN.

U.S. dues for UN peacekeeping are obligations undertaken by signing the UN Charter and by voting for peacekeeping missions in the Security Council. The current situation, where the U.S. calls and votes for the UN to undertake more and bigger peacekeeping missions while not paying its bills is not sustainable and not consistent with U.S. treaty obligations. Given that the UN's total regular and peacekeeping budget is only about $10 billion per year, these arrears have the potential to destabilize the UN's operations, including already-overstretched peacekeeping operations, and threaten the only lifelines available to citizens in some of the most dangerous and unstable regions of the world.

##Debt in UN Regular Budget##

Total FY 2009 Needs $291 million
Possible increase due
to exchange rate losses $60 million
Estimated U.S. Arrears
to UN Regular Budget $348 million

U.S. debt in the regular UN budget has also increased recently; the U.S. now has $291 million in permanent arrears - an amount that is likely to grow by $60 million this year due to exchange rate losses. The permanent arrears in the regular budget stem mainly from past under-funding to the State Department's Contributions to International Organizations (CIO) account. This account covers U.S. treaty obligations at the UN and 43 other international treaty organizations, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), NATO, and the World Health Organization (WHO). The U.S. is behind in its payments to virtually all major CIO organizations. To begin addressing this, Congress added $50 million to the CIO account in the FY 2007 Supplemental and $20 million in the FY 2008 foreign operations appropriations bill, calling on the Administration to request funding to pay back accumulated arrears to international organizations.

U.S. Security Assistance Programs - The FY 2009 DoS and DoD Budget Request

African Security Research Project (Washington, DC)

13 March 2008

By Daniel Volman

For Fiscal Year 2009 (which begins on 1 October 2008), the Bush administration is asking Congress to approve the delivery of some $500 million worth of military equipment and training to Africa (including both sub-Saharan Africa and north Africa) in the budget request for the State Department for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009. The administration is also asking for up to $400 million for deliveries of equipment and training for Africa funded through the Defense Department budget and another $400 million to establish the headquarters for the Pentagon's new Africa Command (Africom).

The State Department budget request includes funding for major new arms deliveries and increased military training to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, and Uganda. It will be channeled through a variety of programs, including a number of new programs initiated by the Bush administration as part of the "Global War on Terrorism." These include the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Partnership, the East African Regional Security Initiative, and the Anti-Terrorism Assistance program. The U.S. government is also expected to license up to $100 million worth of private commercial sales of military and police equipment through the State Department's Direct Commercial Sales program in FY 2009.

The following description is based on information contained in the State Department Budget Justification for Foreign Operations for FY 2009 (released by the State Department in March 2008) and the Defense Department Summary Justification for the Budget Request for FY 2009 (released in February 2008).

State Department Programs

International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement

The budget includes funding for the continued expansion of the U.S. civilian police contribution to UNMIL in Liberia, which rose from $1 million in FY 2007 to an estimated $4.096 million in FY 2008, and the administration is requesting $4.130 for FY 2009. The budget also includes funding for the continued expansion of law enforcement programs conducted by the U.S. as part of the implementation of the Sudan peace accords; these rose from $9.8 million in FY 2007 to an estimated $13.578 million in FY 2008, and the administration is requesting $24 million requested for FY 2009. And the budget contains funds to continue new program for law enforcement assistance to the Democratic Republic of Congo; these were initiated with an initial appropriation of an estimated $1.488 million in FY 2008 and the administration is requesting $1.7 million for FY 2009.

Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs

The budget includes funding for the continued expansion of U.S. Anti-terrorism Assistance (ATA) programs in Africa, particularly by expanding the Trans Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP) program in sub-Saharan Africa to North Africa and increasing funding for the East Africa Regional Strategy Initiative (EARSI) in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. For all programs throughout the world, ATA received $185.1 million in FY 2007 and an estimated $153.8 million in FY 2008; the administration is requesting $160 million FY 2009. It is difficult to know what proportion of this funding will be used in Africa, but it is reasonable to assume that approximately $40-50 million will be spent on African programs.

Foreign Military Financing

One of the most significant FMF programs in Africa is providing funding for increased arms sales to the Democratic Republic of the Congo; funding rose from nothing in FY 2007 to $397,000 in FY 2008, and the administration is requesting $600,000 in FY 2009. The budget contains money for major increases in FMF funding for Ethiopia; after receiving $1.9 million in FY 2007, funding for Ethiopia was reduced to $843,000 in FY 2008, but the administration is requesting $4 million in FY 2009. It continues funding for Djibouti which fell from $3.8 million in FY 2007 to $2 million in FY 2008, but which the administration wants to increase back to $2.8 million in FY 2009. It also includes funding to continue programs in Liberia which received $1.5 million in FY 2007, then just $298,000 in FY 2008, but which will receive $1.5 million in FY 2009 under the new budget. And it contains funding for the continued expansion of arms sales to Nigeria, with FMF funding rising from $1 million in FY 2007, to $1.3 million in FY 2008, to a requested $1.35 million in FY 2009.

International Military Education and Training

One noteworthy new program is the one for Libya; initiated in FY 2008 with $333,000, Libya will receive $350,000 worth of training in FY 2009 under the new budget. The budget also contains funding for significant increases in training programs for military officers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (which received $263,000 in FY 2007, another $477,000 in FY 2008, and is expected to receive $500,000 in FY 2009); Ethiopia (472,000 in FY 2007, $620,000 in FY 2008 and $700,000 in the request for FY 2009); Guinea Bissau ($454,000 in FY 2007, $524,000 in FY 2008, and $750,000 in the request for FY 2009); South Africa (just $48,000 in FY 2007, but $857,000 in FY 2008, and $850,000 in the request for FY 2009); and Uganda ($283,000 in FY 2007, $477,000 in FY 2008, and $500,000 in the request for FY 2009). And it includes money to continue major programs for Botswana ($600,000 in the request for FY 2009), Ghana ($600,000 in the request for FY 2009), Nigeria ($800,000 in the request for FY 2009), and Senegal ($1 million in the request for FY 2009).

The budget includes money to continue increases in funding in FY 2009 for the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), which includes the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program (ACOTA). In addition to ACOTA, most of the rest of the GPOI funding will also go to Africa-related programs, amounting to an estimated total of $80 million worth of security assistance. GPOI rose from $81 million in FY 2007 to $96.4 million in FY 2008, and the administration is requesting $106.2 million in FY 2009. The budget also maintains recent levels of funding for the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP), which got $13.75 million in FY 2007 and $9.9 million in FY 2008; for FY 2009, the administration is requesting $15 million. The administration is also requesting $7.5 million for the first time in FY 2009 to launch the East Africa Regional Security Initiative modeled on the TSCTP to provide counter-terrorism training and equipment to military forces in the East Africa region (Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi).

The budget contains funding to continue the administration's new program to provide training, equipment, and infrastructure improvements to the Democratic Republic of the Congo; presumably much of this will be supplied to the forces deployed in the eastern part of the country. Funding for this program began with $5.5 million in FY 2008 and the administration is requesting another $5.5 million for the Democratic Republic of the Congo in FY 2009. It also includes money to continue providing training, equipment, and infrastructure improvements to the Liberian military, which received $53.25 million in FY 2007 and $51.7 million in FY 2008; the administration is requesting $49.6 million in FY 2009. And it contains funding to continue providing training, equipment, and infrastructure facilities to the Sudanese military to help integrate former combatants from the Sudan People's Liberation Army. Programs in Sudan received $54 million in FY 2006 including $20 transferred from the Department of Defense and $70.8 million in FY 2008; the administration is requesting $30 million for these programs in FY 2009.

Defense Department Programs

Building Partnership Capacity

The budget contains $800 million to substantially expand funding for the Global Equip and Train program ($500 million for this program which was established by FY 2006 National Defense Authorization Act Section 1206), the Security and Stabilization Assistance program ($200 million for this program which was established by FY 2006 National Defense Authorization Act Section 1207), and the Combatant Commanders' Initiative Fund ($100 million for this program established by FY 2007 National Defense Authorization Act Section 902). Of this, an estimated $300-$400 million will go to provide training and equipment to military, paramilitary, and police forces in Africa.

Establishment of new Africa Command (Africom)

The budget contains $398 million to set up the headquarters for the new Africa Command (Africom) in Stuttgart, Germany. This money will be used to pay for the operating costs of Africom over the coming year. This will include the cost of creating an Africom intelligence capability, including a Joint Intelligence Operations Center; launching a stand-alone Theater Special Operations Command for Africom; deploying support aircraft to Africa; building a limited presence on the African continent that is expected to include the establishment of two of five regional offices projected by Africom; and conducting training, exercises, and theater security cooperation activities.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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