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USA/Africa: Military Perspectives

AfricaFocus Bulletin
March 13, 2014 (140313)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

Last week the U.S. Department of Defense released the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), outlining the overall strategic perspectives for the U.S. military for the next four years. The release came together with White House release of the government's proposed fiscal year 2015 budget. Neither the budget nor the QDR provide details about Africa, but the ratio of proposed spending totals is revealing. The proposed budget for peacekeeping, which falls under the Department of State, is $2.5 billion, while the budget for the Department of Defense is $496 billion, almost two hundred times as great.

The total budget for the Department of State, USAID and all international organizations funded through that budget category, which also includes at least $13 billion designated for "security" assistance, is $46.2 billion. Also within that total are $4.8 billion for humanitarian assistance worldwide, $8.1 billion for health, and $5.4 billion for the State Department's own diplomatic and consular operations.

The general parameters set by the QDR and the budget do not necessarily determine the details of U.S. policy towards specific African countries and crises. But the U.S. officials most knowledgeable and most directly involved with African issues, whether military or civilian, are only part - and rarely the most important part - of decision-making processes shaped at higher levels. These realities, for example, make it extraordinarily difficult to respond to urgent crises for which peacekeeping and humanitarian funding must be raised, such as in the Central African Republic, while policies falling under the "counter-terrorism" agenda are most often decided at central levels.

It is illustrative of the bureaucratic process and priorities within the U.S. government that the QDR gives only token attention to peacekeeping, and that even recent testimony by the US AFRICOM Commander does not include peacekeeping as a major issue or even mention the recent crisis in the Central African Republic. South Sudan is mentioned only in the context of protecting American personnel, and those peacekeeping operations mentioned in detail are only those which also have a counter-terrorist component (namely Somalia and Mali).

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from the Department of Defense 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review and from March 6 testimony before a Senate Committee by US AFRICOM Commander General David M. Rodriguez. It also contains a short set of links to news articles on stepped-up U.S. military involvement related to Africa.

Another AfricaFocus released today, not sent out by email but available on the web at, reports on continuing long delays in approving and dispatching a UN peacekeeping force to the Central African Republic, despite a wide consensus that the situation is "extremely grave."

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on peace and security issues, visit

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

Excerpts from the Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review 2014

page v (in Executive Summary)

[T]he 2014 QDR embodies the 21st century defense priorities outlined in the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. These priorities include rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region to preserve peace and stability in the region; maintaining a strong commitment to security and stability in Europe and the Middle East; sustaining a global approach to countering violent extremists and terrorist threats, with an emphasis on the Middle East and Africa; continuing to protect and prioritize key investments in technology while our forces overall grow smaller and leaner; and invigorating efforts to build innovative partnerships and strengthen key alliances and partnerships.

Page 5

In Africa, terrorists, criminal organizations, militias, corrupt officials, and pirates continue to exploit ungoverned and undergoverned territory on the continent and its surrounding waters. The potential for rapidly developing threats, particularly in fragile states, including violent public protests and terrorist attacks, could pose acute challenges to U.S. interests. At the same time, there is also significant opportunity to develop stronger governance institutions and to help build professional, capable military forces that can partner with the United States to address the full spectrum of regional security challenges. Multilateral peace operations under the aegis of the United Nations, African Union, and sub-regional organizations are playing an increasingly prominent role in maintaining and restoring international security, including through prevention and mitigation of mass atrocities in threat environments that previously would have deterred multilateral action.

Page 19

The United States remains focused on maximizing our impact throughout Africa by actively working with key partners to foster stability and prosperity. Many African countries are undertaking efforts to address the wide range of challenges they face, by improving their governance institutions, strengthening rule of law, and protecting borders more effectively. The U.S. Armed Forces cooperate with counterparts on counterterrorism and counter-piracy efforts, partnership capacity building –ndash; especially for peacekeeping –ndash; and crisis and contingency response. Recent engagements in Somalia and Mali, in which African countries and regional organizations are working together with international partners in Europe and the United States, may provide a model for future partnerships.

Page 36

Africa. The Department will continue to maximize the impact of a relatively small U.S. presence in Africa by engaging in high-return training and exercise events; negotiating flexible agreements; working with interagency partners; investing in new, effective, and efficient small footprint locations; and developing innovative approaches to using host nation facilities or allied joint-basing.

Page 37

Counterterrorism and Special Operations. The Department of Defense will continue to protect its capacity and capability to counter terrorist threats around the world. U.S. Special Operations Forces play a central role in these efforts, increasingly maintaining persistent forward presence to prevent crises in addition to serving as a crisis response and contingency force. The Department will grow overall SOF end strength to 69,700. We will protect the ability of SOF to sustain persistent, networked, distributed operations to defeat al Qa'ida and counter other emerging transnational threats, counter WMD, build partnership capacity for counterterrorism, deny enemy sanctuary, and conduct or support direct action, as appropriate. As forces are withdrawn from Afghanistan, more SOF will be available to support Combatant Commanders' efforts to counter a range of challenges across the globe. The demand for U.S. forces to expand the counterterrorism capabilities of allied or partner forces will likely increase in the coming years. The United States will continue to advise, train, and equip partner forces to perform essential tasks against terrorist networks, complementing U.S. activities in the field. Operations and activities in the Maghreb, Sahel, and Horn of Africa, for example, further our national security interests without a large commitment of U.S. forces.

Statement of General David M. Rodriguez, USA, Commander, United States Africa Command
Before the Senate Armed Services Committee Posture Hearing

6 March 2014

[Excerpts only; full transcript available at /

Immediate Priorities

Countering Violent Extremism and Enhancing Stability in East Africa

Al-Qa'ida affiliate a1~Shabaab remains a persistent threat in Somalia and East Africa. African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali forces have been challenged in regaining the momentum against al-Shabaab, which responded to losses of territory by conducting asymmetric attacks in Somalia and Kenya.

AMISOM's recent increase in force strength and the integration of Ethiopia, which played a major role in multinational security efforts in Somalia last year, are positive developments that will help AMISOM and Somali forces to more effectively counter alShabaab, particularly if the international community is able to source key enablers.

U.S. and partner efforts in Somalia focus on strengthening the ability of AMISOM and Somali forces to disrupt and contain alShabaab and expand state-controlled areas to allow for the continued development of the Federal Government of Somalia. The international community is also supporting the development of security institutions and forces in Somalia, to set the conditions for the future transfer of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali National Army and Police.

U.S. support to preparing AMISOM troop contributing countries for deployment to Somalia has enhanced partner capacities in peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations. The United States continues to support AMISOM troop contributing countries in preparing for deployment, primarily through contracted training funded by the Department of State and increasingly supported by military mentors and trainers. Our military efforts have expanded in the past year to include planning and coordination with AMISOM and multinational partners, primarily through a small US. military coordination cell in Somalia, which is also conducting assessments to inform future security cooperation proposals. Precise partnered and unilateral operations continue to play limited but important roles in weakening al-Shabaab, and the support and collaboration of Central Command and Special Operations Command, including through forcesharing arrangements, have been critical to the effectiveness of operations in Somalia.


Countering Violent Extremism and Enhancing Stability in North and West Africa

In North and West Africa, we have made some progress in forging regional and multinational cooperation to combat the spillover effects from revolutions in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. These revolutions, coupled with the fragility of neighboring states, continue to destabilize the region. The spillover effects of revolutions include the return of fighters and flow of weapons from Libya to neighboring countries following the fall of the regime, and the export of foreign fighters from North Africa to the Syrian conflict. Terrorist groups in North and West Africa have expanded their operations, increasing threats to U.S. interests. Al-Qa'ida affiliates and adherents, and other terrorist groups, have formed a dispersed network that disregards borders and uses historic trading routes to exploit vast areas of weak government control. Al-Qa'ida affiliates and adherents operating in North and West Africa include al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar al-Shari'a in Benghazi, Ansar al-Shari'a in Darnah, Ansar al-Shari'a in Tunisia, and Moktar Belmoktar's al-Mulathameem Brigade, which has morphed into al-Murabitun.

Among the countries in the region that have recently experienced revolutions, Tunisia appears best poised to succeed in its transition to a new government, and its military has been a stabilizing factor through the transition. In Libya, the security situation is volatile and tenuous, especially in the eastern and south~western parts of the country. Militia groups control significant areas of territory and continue to exert pressure on the Libyan government, which is challenged to provide basic security and services. We are supporting Libyan efforts to improve internal security by participating in a multinational effort to support modest defense institution building and the development of security forces, to include General Purpose and Special Operations Forces. We are currently in the planning stages and expect to begin program implementation later this year.

In many places in the region, U.S. assistance is having positive effects on strengthening the counter-terrorism and border security capacities of regional partners and maintaining pressure on terrorist organizations. In Mali, French and African forces reduced the territory controlled by AQIM and other terrorist groups last year and provided space for democratic progress, including elections. Thirty-five (35) countries, including 16 African countries, have pledged troops to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). U.S. support has enabled MINUSMA and French operations to secure key cities and disrupt terrorist organizations. The Department of State has led U.S. efforts to support the preparation of African troop contributing countries for MINUSMA deployment with non-lethal equipment and pre-deployment training supported by US. military mentors and trainers. US. forces are also advising and assisting MINUSMA forces. Mali faces a key security transition this year as French forces reduce in the country and Malian and MINUSMA forces assume greater security responsibilities.

In addition to supporting partner efforts to stabilize Mali, our programs and exercises are helping our regional partners disrupt and contain the threat posed by Boko Haram. Boko Hararn continues to attack civilian and government facilities in northern Nigeria and has extended its reach into parts of Cameroon, Niger, and Chad. Nigeria has relied on a primarily military approach to counter Boko Haram; we are working with Nigeria and drawing on lessons from U.S. experience in counter-insurgency efforts to support efforts to develop a more comprehensive approach that respects universal human rights and ensures perpetrators of violence are brought to justice.

We are actively increasing regional cooperation with African and European partners, including in information-sharing and combined training, exercises, and operations. Our cooperation builds security capacity and can help to reinforce our partners' willingness to advance our shared interests. Our enabling support to French operations in Mali is advancing collective security interests while also reinforcing this critical trans-Atlantic security relationship. In addition to participating in the strong and growing multinational cooperation across North and West Africa, we continue to work with the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development through the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership to build longer~term, comprehensive regional counter-terrorism capacity.

Enhancing regional approaches will be essential to effectively addressing the root causes of instability and countering the growth and freedom of movement and action of terrorist elements across the network. As part of this, deepening our cooperation with African and European partners will enhance our mutual ability to leverage combined posture and presence to address immediate threats in the region. As we work with partners to support the development of democratic security institutions and professional forces, parallel progress in civilian-led efforts to strengthen governance, the criminal justice sector, and the rule of law will be critical to sustainable progress. We are grateful for the Congress's continuing support for the foreign operations appropriations that make these latter efforts possible, and enable a "Whole of government" approach in this critical region.

Protecting U.S. Personnel and Facilities

While we have the responsibility to help protect all US. personnel and facilities on the African continent, our activities this past year focused heavily on supporting the Department of State in strengthening the security of high threat, high risk diplomatic missions in 15 locations across North, East, West, and Central Africa. The sheer size of Africa and the continent's limited infrastructure constrain the rapid deployment of crisis response forces to many of these locations, posing significant risks to mission and personnel.

Our current response forces consist of Army Regionally Aligned Force and Marine Corps Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force elements, a Fleet Anti-Terrorism Support Team, and a Commander's In-extremis Force. The majority of our response forces are based in Europe, with the exception of the Regionally Aligned Force element known as the East Africa Response Force, which is based at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

Recent operations to support the Department of State in securing U.S. personnel and facilities in South Sudan tested our crisis response capabilities. ... Our ability to deploy forces rapidly reflected the unique circumstances of the situation, including sufficient advance warning to allow the prepositioning of response forces near South Sudan, and was not representative of the speed with which we would typically be able to respond to requests from the Department of State to secure U.S. personnel or facilities throughout the continent.


Countering the Lord's Resistance Army

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is one of several persistent destabilizing influences in central Africa and has created significant humanitarian challenges. The African Union Regional Task Force against the LRA, led by Uganda and With advice and assistance from the United States, is reducing the threat posed by the LRA to populations in central Africa. In the last six months alone, US. forces provided enabling support to 33 partner operations that disrupted LRA activities and significantly increased pressure on the LRA. Military operations, combined with robust efforts by civilian agencies and non-governmental organizations, have resulted in increased defections, the capture of key LRA leaders, and decreased threats to civilian populations. Additional enablers would allow our partners to respond more rapidly to actionable intelligence and improve the effectiveness of their operations.

Selected Links on U.S. Military Posture in Africa

* "Obama and Hollande: France and the U.S. enjoy a renewed alliance," Washington Post, February 10, 2014

Perhaps nowhere is our new partnership on more vivid display than in Africa. In Mali, French and African Union forces — with U.S. logistical and information support — have pushed back al-Qaedalinked insurgents, allowing the people of Mali to pursue a democratic future. Across the Sahel, we are partnering with countries to prevent al-Qaeda from gaining new footholds. In the Central African Republic, French and African Union soldiers — backed by American airlift and support — are working to stem violence and create space for dialogue, reconciliation and swift progress to transitional elections.

Across the continent, from Senegal to Somalia, we are helping train and equip local forces so they can take responsibility for their own security. We are partnering with governments and citizens who want to strengthen democratic institutions, improve agriculture and alleviate hunger, expand access to electricity and deliver the treatment that saves lives from infectious diseases. Our two countries were the earliest and are among the strongest champions of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

* "France to create new Africa outposts to better fight terrorism," Associated Press, January 31, 2014

France will broaden its military presence in Africa's turbulent Sahel region with specialized new outposts to better fight the terror threat from extremist groups such as al Qaeda, the defence minister said Tuesday. "We are going to reinforce Abidjan an as an entry point, a logistical support post," Le Drian said of Ivory Coast's commercial capital. "And then we'll boost the intervention capacity on each of the different sites."...

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France is moving toward a regional counter-terrorism approach in former French colonies such as Chad, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. French troops largely ousted al Qaeda-linked militants from northern Mali last year. The minister expects to detail the initiative to U.S. officials during a trip to Washington this week. France has worked closely with U.S. forces to try to fight extremism in Africa.

* "US military aids Nigeria on Boko Haram: New special ops units expected to benefit from Pentagon training and equipment," Christian Science Monitor, January 23, 2014 -

Last week, Nigeria announced the creation of an Army Special Operations Command (NASOC) at a Counter-Terrorism and CounterInsurgency Lessons Learned Exchange between the United States and Nigeria.

Through US Africa Command (AFRICOM), US Special Operations Command, Africa (SOCAFRICA), and the Office of Security Cooperation in the US Embassy in Abuja, the United States will be helping stand up the NASOC by providing training and a limited amount of equipment.

* "Nigeria, U.S joint military training on terrorism begins," News24 (South Africa), October 7, 2013 -

Abuja - The military, in conjunction with special forces from the UK, U.S., Spain, and Netherlands have begun a joint training to enhance its capacity to combat terrorism in the county's maritime environment.

* "'Dagger' Brigade soldiers, Kansas State University work together to make Africa mission a success," September 17, 2013 -

"[Kansas State University] has been supporting Dagger University since its first run in March (2013), and this is really what I would call a mutually beneficial project," said Daryl Youngman, an associate professor at KSU. ...

To date, soldiers with the Dagger Brigade have worked across Africa in nations such as Malawi, Burundi, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Sierra Leone, Djibouti and South Africa. Missions range from small teamsize military-to- military training exercises in fields such as first aid and basic marksmanship to theater security cooperation missions and larger battalion-size joint exercises. Whatever the mission, the expertise of KSU delegations to Dagger University has been valuable, said the brigade commander.

* "U.S. Marine Rapid Response Force Deploying to Spain Base," Military Movies and News, April 28, 2013

The first of 500 Marines have begun deploying to Spain as part of a new rapid reaction force to respond to threats against U.S. citizens, government personnel or installations in Africa.

The new task force is based at Moron Air Base in southern Spain, which provides quick access especially to northern Africa, where security concerns have grown since the September 2012 attack on a U.S. government facility in Benghazi, Libya,

* "'Dagger' brigade readies for AFRICOM missions," U.S. Army website, February 20, 2013 -

Some 4,000 Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, out of Fort Riley, Kan., are training for realignment to U.S. Africa Command, expected later this year. The 2nd BCT, or "Dagger" Brigade as it is known, will be the first brigade to be regionally aligned to U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM. U.S. Pacific Command has had units regionally align to its area of responsibility with similar training at Fort Irwin (CA) earlier this year.

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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