News / Africa

Report: US Expands Air Surveillance Across Africa

U.S. Surveillance Facilities in Africa
U.S. Surveillance Facilities in Africa
VOA News
The Washington Post reports the U.S. military has set up small air bases across Africa to conduct surveillance of terrorist groups.

The newspaper, quoting U.S. and African officials, says about a dozen bases have been set up since 2007 in a number of countries, including Burkina Faso, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and the Seychelles.

A PC-12 Pilatus on the runway at Hurlburt Field, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Evelyn Chavez)A PC-12 Pilatus on the runway at Hurlburt Field, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Evelyn Chavez)
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A PC-12 Pilatus on the runway at Hurlburt Field, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Evelyn Chavez)
A PC-12 Pilatus on the runway at Hurlburt Field, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Evelyn Chavez)
Instead of drones, The Post says the surveillance is conducted by small planes - usually single-engine PC-12s with only a pilot aboard. The report says the unarmed planes are equipped to record video, track infrared heat patterns and catch radio and cellphone signals.

A spokesman for the Kenyan Defense Forces, Colonel Cyrus Oguna, denied that there are U.S. air bases in Kenya.

"As far as we are concerned, U.S. is not using any Kenyan air space or any bases from where they can be able to launch observation vessels.  However, I know that we do have bilateral arrangements in terms of sharing information and intelligence to fight terror," he said.

U.S. officials in Washington declined to answer reporters' questions Thursday about the newspaper report.

According to The Post, U.S. military Special Operations forces supervise the surveillance, but the program relies heavily on private military contractors and support from African troops.

  • A single-engine turboprop PC-12, the type of plane the U.S. military is reportedly using to record video, track infrared heat patterns, and catch radio and cellphone signals in Africa.
  • Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army during a meeting with a delegation of 160 officials and lawmakers from northern Uganda and representatives of non-governmental organizations, July 31, 2006, Congo near the Sudan border.
  • Troops from the Central African Republic stand outside a building used for meetings between them and U.S. Army special forces seeking the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, Obo, Central African Republic, April 29, 2012.
  • U.S. Special Forces soldier trains troops from Senegal combat techniques in Kati, Mali, during a joint training exercise with units from several African countries where al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is active, May 12, 2010.
  • Fighters from Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard as they prepare to hand over a Swiss female hostage in the desert outside Timbuktu, Mali, April 24, 2012.
  • Suspected members of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram are detained by the military in Bukavu Barracks in Kano state, Nigeria, March 21, 2012.

Targets of the surveillance include al-Qaida-linked militants in Somalia, Yemen and Africa's Sahel region, and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army in central Africa.

U.S. officials have repeatedly warned of the threat to regional stability presented by such groups and others like Nigeria's Boko Haram.

The Post previously reported that the U.S. has a secret program in east Africa and the Arabian peninsula that uses drone airplanes to watch militants in Somalia and Yemen.

The newspaper said its latest report was based on unnamed U.S. military and government officials, African officials, U.S. government contracting documents, unclassified military reports and diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

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by: African from: Africa
June 15, 2012 5:34 PM
Sometimes what US considers terrorist group are truly a genuine oposition to the dictator the US administration supports, and they are helping the regime survive for an exchange the regime allows the US military to have access to their air and land spaces. Ironically there is no legitimate regime in Africa that comes with election. Almost all African regimes come to power by overthrowing the previous regime. Hence, who is terrorist organization, the regime that is doing harm to the population or the freedom fighters defending their civilians?

by: JP from: COLORADO
June 15, 2012 3:41 PM
Kudos to those brave warriors out in harms way protecting once again our leaderships' underlings freedom to have announced - leaked - our hand of cards (security be dammed) to the world and those intent on our demise.

Will the internal bickering at the very top protecting our national interests ever cease and once again focus on America....

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