News / Africa

US Military Presence in Africa Grows With Terror Threat

US Military Presence in Africa Grows With Terror Threati
X
June 22, 2013 2:11 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Africa will emphasize Washington's expanding economic and commercial engagements with the continent. At the same time, the U.S. military's presence in Africa has been growing as terrorist threats mount across the region. VOA Pentagon correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

US Military Presence in Africa Grows With Terror Threat

Luis Ramirez
— U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Africa will emphasize Washington's expanding economic and commercial engagements with the continent. At the same time, the U.S. military's presence in Africa has been growing as terrorist threats mount across the region.

The spread of militant groups in what were previously unaffected areas of West Africa, such as Mali, has prompted the U.S. military to pay closer attention and boost its presence in the form of capacity-building programs, like the one in which U.S. Marines train African commandos.

The U.S. also has stepped up its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities, setting up unarmed drone bases in places like Niger.

It is part of a plan to provide security assistance to Africa, without a large presence of U.S. personnel.

U.S. Army General David Rodriguez recently took the helm of the U.S. Africa Command, based in Germany. He explained why it is important for the U.S. military to maintain a small footprint on the continent.

“The history of the African nations, the colonialism, all those things are what point to the reasons why we should not go in there in force and everything else, and just use a small footprint with creative and innovative solutions to get high payoff from a small number of people, as well as come in for short periods of time to do exercises, to do operations, to help build that capacity,” said Rodriguez.

AFRICOM was started in 2008, and its focus at first was on development projects including livestock deworming programs with U.S. soldiers, sometimes in civilian dress, reaching out to villagers.  

But analysts say that approach led to questions of what U.S. forces were really doing in Africa.

“There was a lot of consternation when AFRICOM was launched mainly because they didn't explain their objectives in Africa very well, and so people were very suspicious,” said Richard Downie with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The emerging terrorist threats have prompted U.S. forces to boost their intelligence-gathering and other military operations.

Downie believes suspicions have dissipated, though, as it has become clear the U.S. is limiting its presence on the continent and defining its mission better.

“AFRICOM's mission is becoming clearer, and as it's retreated into a more traditional operational role, I think it has actually helped AFRICOM's image in Africa," he said. "People understand a little bit more clearly what it's doing there.”

Analysts say it also has become clear this capacity-building mission is a long-term effort. U.S. forces are working with militaries that are largely untrained and lacking in professionalism in some cases. They estimate it could be a decades-long endeavor.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: muswi melake
June 22, 2013 10:07 AM
Like the Talibans of Afghanistan, the African patriots will ultimately prevail and boldly and openly say that they have defeated the sole and lonely super-power.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid