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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs