US military base


The National Post’s Richard Johnson takes a look at the scale of America’s military bases across the globe. This is a huge graphic, you’ll have to click it more than once to get it big enough to read. There is a lot to learn from reading and studying it. It reminds me of the vampire squid.

Mapping the reach of military empire, between 800-1000 bases


** Central Intelligence Agency locations are a mixture of drone bases and rendition centers

Full-spectrum dominance means the ability of U.S. forces, operating alone or with allies, to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the range of military operations (link)

And from The Real Grand Chessboard and the Profiteers of War by Prof. Peter Dale Scott:

” … the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.”
Zbigniew Brzezinski

I have published the following graphics before, but they are worth contemplating in view of the information above.

Who really spends the most on their armed forces?

The following graphics are by David McCandless. The originals are at The Guardian DataBlog.

Which country has the biggest military budget per year?

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The US military budget in context

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GDPs of major nations as combined earnings of US states

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Big spenders, yearly military budget as % of GDP

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Active forces - who has the most soldiers?

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Active forces - the number of soldiers per 100,000 people

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Total armed forces - the number of soldiers, reservists, and paramilitary per 100,000 people

Bases occupy the seas as well as the continents. The following is also a very large graphic picturing a lot of information.

Seabase Overview - Joint Seabasing Responsive Scalable National Power Projection (this is a very large graphic, you may need to click more than once and scroll around to read it all)

You can read more about what is going on at Seabase Diplomacy.

You can view pictures of seabasing in action around the coasts of Africa at AFRICOM Along the Coasts and In the Creeks.

Full Spectrum Dominance, read what it means in the US, Africa, and globally.

updated 1/2/2012

AFRICOM continues constantly expanding seabasing and riverine warfare activities, continuing efforts to monitor and control African nations and African resources for the benefit of the US and the West.

I’ve collected together a number of photos of seabasing and riverine warfare exercises from the last 12 months. You can see how AFRICOM is busily engaged around the entire coastline of the continent, and inland on the rivers.

MOMBASA, Kenya - The guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) arrives in Mombasa to take part in a training

DAKAR, Senegal - High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) makes a stop for refueling on its way to Ghana, June 26, 2011. Swift is currently taking part in Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

AGADIR, Morocco - U.S. Naval Ship Pililaau ports at Agadir, Morocco recently as part of exercise African Lion 2011. The largest exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, African Lion is a joint, combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise that is designed to promote interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's military tactics, techniques and procedures. The exercise is scheduled to conclude June 18.

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal - A group of service members from the U.S. and Senegalese Marine Corps and Nigerian Navy search for targets during a live-fire shoot on the river in Toubakouta, Senegal April 23, 2011. Approximately 45 U.S. marines and sailors, along with about 100 Senegalese commandos and Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service troops are participating in Africa Partnership Station 2011, a U.S. Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) maritime security assistance program that is designed to strengthen participating nations' maritime security capacity through multilateral collaboration and cross-border cooperation. Marine Corps Forces, Africa is supporting APS 11 with a security assistance force based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Marine Corps Forces Africa photo by Master Sergeant Grady Fontana)

DOUALA, Cameroon - Cameroonian Navy visit, board, search, and seizure teams approach USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) during the multi-national training exercise Obangame Express 2011 as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, March 21, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo - A Democratic Republic of Congo Navy boat accompanies Exercise Kwanza review participants on a cruise of the Congo River in October 2010. Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) held the exercise in order to validate Central African Multinational Force to African Union (AU) standards. The force is one of five brigade-size elements that make up the AU's Africa Standby Force--created to respond to crises on the African continent. (U.S. Army photo by Major George K. Allen Jr.)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal - Sergeant Austin Sabin maneuvers a fire team of Senegalese commandos through a final military operation in urban terrain exercise at the end of a three week partnered evolution in Toubakouta, Senegal, recently. The partnership was an Africa Partnership Station 2011 initiative, in which the Marines of second platoon, Ground Combat Element, Security Cooperation Task Force, APS-11 exchanged concepts and cultures with Senegalese commandos. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Timothy L. Solano)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal - Commando marines with Senegal's Company Fusiliers Marine Commando unit patrol the hot dusty trail in army base center training tactics zone 3, in Toubakouta, Sengegal, during Africa Partnership Station 2011. These Senegalese marines are participating in Africa Partnership Station 2011, a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) maritime security assistance program that is designed to strengthen participating nations' maritime security capacity through multilateral collaboration and cross-border cooperation. Marine Corps Forces, Africa is supporting APS 11 with a security assistance force based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Marine Corps Forces, Africa photo by Master Sergeant Grady Fontana)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal - Staff Sergeant Shaun Grant and Gunnery Sergeant Michael Connors exit the water after finishing the Senegalese water obstacle course in the Sadoum River April 24, 2011. This exercise was one of many that the marines of second platoon, Ground Combat Element, Security Cooperation Task Force, Africa Partnership Station 2011 have engaged in during the APS-11 partnered military-to-military exchange. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Timothy L. Solano)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal- U.S. Marines, Senegalese Commandos and members of the Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service lay in the prone position during a beach raid exercise launched from rubber raid craft, recently. The raid formation once on the beach is designed to provide 360 degrees of security. (Photo by Lance Corporal Timothy Solano)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA -- Sailors assigned to the deck department aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Ponce (LPD 15) prepare for a replenishment at sea March 10, 2011, with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Kanawha (T-AO 196) and the Amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Ponce is part of Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Nathanael Miller/Released)

LOME TOGO, Togo - Sailors aboard USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) man the rails during a port visit to Lome, Togo, February 1, 2011. The port visit marks the start of the fifth iteration of Africa Partnership Station (APS) East. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.(U.S. Navy photo by Lieutenant junior grade Lorna Mae Devera)

PEMBA ISLAND, Tanzania - U.S. Navy Lieutenant Clint Phillips (left) and Petty Officer 2nd Class Bruce Edmunds (2nd from left), Maritime Civil Affairs Team (MCAT) 115, wade through shallow water on their way to Fundo Island, a small islet that is part of Pemba Island, September 14, 2010. The Little Creek, Virginia-based MCAT 115 is deployed to Tanzania as part of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. Maritime Civil Affairs Teams are deployed worldwide to assess partner-nation infrastructure and enhance capacity. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Laird)

ARTA BEACH, Djibouti - The first group of Navy FY-11 Chief Petty Officer selectees awaits instruction to begin their first waterborne obstacle during a water survival course at the French Foreign Legion's Combat Training Center September 6, 2010. The selectees from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, completed the course as part of the team building portion of the induction season. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Frank Montellano)

USCGC MOHAWK, At Sea - Petty Officer 3rd Class Antonio Seisdedos fires a .50 Caliber Machine Gun during a gunnery exercise off the coast of Senegal on August 29, 2010, during African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) operations. U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk (WMEC 913) is currently conducting a 10-day underway period in Senegal's territorial waters and exclusive economic zone in support of the AMLEP program. AMLEP enables African partners to build maritime security capacity and improve management of their maritime environment through real-world combined law enforcement operations. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Commander James Stockman)

GULF OF GUINEA - A Togolese defender-class patrol boat comes alongside the guided-missile frigate USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) as part of visit, board, search and seizure training with U.S. and Togolese Sailors during Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, February 8, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative to improve maritime safety and security in Africa training and collaborative activities. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Sean J. McMahon)

LUANDA, Angola - An Angolan visit, board, search and seizure team watches during a tactics demonstration given by U.S. Sailors aboard USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49), March 30, 2011. Robert G. Bradley, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, is homeported out of Mayport, Florida, and is on a scheduled deployment to west and central Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

INDIAN OCEAN - French navy La Fayette-class frigate, FS Guepratte (F714) prepares to come alongside USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29) as part of a "leap frog" exercise simulating an underway replenishment during Africa Partnership Station (APS) East deployment, March 14, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class William Jamieson)

LAGOS, Nigeria - Nigerian special operations sailors and U.S. sailors conduct visit, board, search and seizure training at the Joint Maritime Special Operations Training Command as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West in Lagos, April 13, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

LAGOS, Nigeria - Rear Admiral Kenneth J. Norton, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa deputy chief of staff for strategy, resources and plans, along with other U.S. Navy personnel, ride with a Nigerian visit, board, search and seizure team during Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, August 8, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

POINTE NOIRE, Republic of the Congo - Congolese sailors participate in a boarding team operations course hosted by High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2011 July 26, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal-Corporal Brandon Blackmon of second platoon, Ground Combat Element, Security Cooperation Task Force, Africa Partnership Station 2011, provides front security for the Marines and Senegalese Commandos of a combat rubber raiding craft as they conduct a beach assault training exercise, recently. The inter-military assault teams were created during the APS 2011 security cooperation partnership, in which U.S. Marines, Senegal Commandos and Nigerian Special Service Group troops train alongside one another to compare military and cultural perspectives. (Photo by Lance Corporal Timothy Solano)

DOUALA, Cameroon - A Cameroonian Rapid Intervention Battalion boat patrols the Cameroon coastal waters after the multi-national training exercise Obangame Express 2011, part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, March 23, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

LAGOS, Nigeria - Sailors from High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) look at a fishing boat during a community relations project at a local village as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

USCGC MOHAWK, At Sea - Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Lowry (right) and Petty Officer 3rd Class Shawn Cooper (left) guide a Senegalese fishing vessel away from U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk (WMEC 913) on September 3, 2010. Mohawk is currently conducting operations in Senegal's territorial waters and exclusive economic zone in support of the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) program. AMLEP enables African partners to build maritime security capacity and improve management of their maritime environment through real-world combined law enforcement operations. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Commander James Stockman)

ATLANTIC OCEAN - A Cape Verdean visit board, search and seizure team circles the guided-missile frigate USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49), during exercise Saharan Express off the coast of Cape Verde April 27, 2011. Saharan Express is a counter narcotics and proliferation exercise that is part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West. APS is an international security cooperation initiative designed to strengthen global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

The US Africa Command has been busy all around and throughout the continent. I thought I would put together some of the pictures, so people could get a more visual idea of what is going on.

U.S. Navy EOD1 John C. Richards, Master EOD technician assigned to the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Eleven (EODMU-11) gives the range control safety brief April 28th 2011, prior to range training in Namibia. From the August 2011 issue of All Hands magazine of the US Navy.

The last time this blog visited EODMU-11 was when they were investigating AFRICOM’s Lake Victoria Secret. These three photos featuring EODMU-11 in Namibia came from the US Navy magazine All Hands. h/t Roger Pociask

Namibian Defense Force (NDF) Sergeant Eugene M. Salionga, explosive ordnance technician student, attaches a non-electric blasting cap to the detonation priming loop April 28 as U.S. Navy Chief Explosive Ordnance TechnicianChief Petty Offcer Justin Berlien, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit11 (EODMU-11), Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, looks on. (Photo by MC2(EXW) Todd Frantom)

Namibia Defense Forces Warrant Officer Mashatu Jonas, Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, initiates a demolition shot April 28 during the practical application phase of demolition initiation procedures in Namibia.

SEKONDI, Ghana - Ghanaian sailors practice security maneuvers during a tactical combat casualty care course at Sekondi Naval Base, August 17, 2011. The course is being taught in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West. APS is an international security initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

POINTE NOIRE, Republic of the Congo (July 26, 2011) Congolese sailors participate in a boarding team operations course hosted by High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) as part of Africa Partnership Station 2011. Africa Partnership Station is an international security cooperation initiative intended to strengthen global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ian Carver/Released)

Added December 31:

The US Navy’s September 2011 issue (large PDF) of All Hands Magazine featured the Navy’s new emphasis on riverine warfare on the cover and with an article. The article describes training exercises in the Chesapeake Bay along the coast of Virginia.

Cover and feature article of All Hands Magazine September 2011.

One way in which the Navy’s deployment of security forces has shifted is the use of its riverine patrol teams. The focus now is bridging the gap between the brown-water (river) and blue-water (open ocean) patrol. The Navy’s newest, state-of-the-art boat, the Riverine Command Boat (RCB), is pushing further into green-water (coastal) zones to achieve that goal.

The RCB is a unique incarnation of the riverine mission, attached to Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s Riverine Group 1, Riverine Squadron 2, Detachment 2 (RIVRON 2 DET 2) located on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va. At the core, the Riverine Force is a combat-arms force that performs point-defense, fire-support and interdiction operations along coastal and inland waterways to defeat enemies and support U.S. naval and coalition forces.

The RCB is a lethal supplement to their already menacing arsenal, giving riverine squadrons the ability to travel not only in rivers, but also out to bays and coastal regions, expanding the capabilities of command and control and the riverine squadrons’ maritime security reach.

“With the addition of the RCB platform we are now able to potentially stop any threat

Riverine Command Boat fires the .50 caliber gun in reaction to simulated enemy forces on shore.

The craft has proven the ability to operate in between blue and brown water, referred to by coastal security vessels as green water …

“We’re a double threat,” said Gunner’s Mate Seaman Adam Heredia. “Although we work in the coastal environment conducting escorts, security, surveillance, and anti-piracy, we can still operate in a traditional riverine environment.”

The crew aboard a Riverine Command Boat retrieve the crew of a small rigid hull inflatable boat during a night exercise along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay

Sailors attached to to RIVRON 2 DET 2, role play as “enemy forces” firing simulated rounds toward Riverine Command Boat craft off the coast during a night training evolution.

Riverine Command Boat gives Riverine squadrons the ability to travel not only in rivers, but also out to bays and coastal regions, expanding the capabilities of command and control and the Riverine squadrons’ maritime security reach with un-matched fire power

The RCB is equipped with an array of weapons that are sure to deter any potential foes. The arsenal includes a 7.62-caliber M240B machine gun, an electric motor-driven Gatling gun which fires 2,000 rounds per minute, a Mark-19 automatic grenade launcher, twin .50-caliber machine guns, an additional M2 .50-caliber machine gun and a remote-operated, .50-caliber gun.

With its versatility, the RCB serves as the primary boat in combat or patrolling missions. It can serve as a combat information center, and can even be configured as an ambulance boat. It is designed to land on a variety of shorelines, including solid rock, and to drop off and extract personnel from any area.

The Navy’s newest state-ofthe-art boat, the Riverine Command Boat, posts a force protection watch off the coast during a night training evolution.

These exercises are all part of the activities pictured above around the coasts and creeks of Africa. The “enemies” in Africa will be Africans. Many of these “enemies” will be pan-Africanists and local patriots who do not want their countries run as resource troughs for US corporations.

There are many lessons Africa should learn from the Pentagon’s counter revolution against the Arab Spring. Keep in mind that America talks about democracy, but the Pentagon is actively working against democracy in numerous places around the world. It has been particularly active in Africa.

As the Arab Spring blossomed and President Barack Obama hesitated about whether to speak out in favor of protesters seeking democratic change in the Greater Middle East, the Pentagon acted decisively. It forged ever deeper ties with some of the most repressive regimes in the region, building up military bases and brokering weapons sales and transfers to despots from Bahrain to Yemen.

As state security forces across the region cracked down on democratic dissent, the Pentagon also repeatedly dispatched American troops on training missions to allied militaries there. During more than 40 such operations with names like Eager Lion and Friendship Two that sometimes lasted for weeks or months at a time, they taught Middle Eastern security forces the finer points
of counter-insurgency, small unit tactics, intelligence gathering, and information operations skills crucial to defeating popular uprisings
.

These recurrent joint-training exercises, seldom reported in the media and rarely mentioned outside the military, constitute the core of an elaborate, longstanding system that binds the Pentagon to the militaries of repressive regimes across the Middle East. Although the Pentagon shrouds these exercises in secrecy, refusing to answer basic questions about their scale, scope, or cost, an investigation by TomDispatch reveals the outlines of a region-wide training program whose ambitions are large and wholly at odds with Washington’s professed aims of supporting democratic reforms in the Greater Middle East.

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), the Pentagon’s regional military headquarters that oversees operations in Africa, has planned 13 such major joint-training exercises in 2011 alone from Uganda to South Africa, Senegal to Ghana, including African Lion.

The military also refused to comment on exercises scheduled for 2012. There is nonetheless good reason to believe that their number will rise as regional autocrats look to beat back the forces of change

This spring, as Operation African Lion proceeded and battered Moroccan protesters nursed their wounds, Obama asserted that the “United States opposes the use of violence and repression

(Nick Turse: Did Pentagon help strangle the Arab Spring ?)

AFRICOMs exercises throughout the African continent have grown in number and size every year. In countries where AFRICOM has been most aggressive, it has been consistent in working in the interests of repressive regimes and against the interests of democracy in the same way CENTCOM has been doing throughout the Middle East. The main source of terrorism in Africa is the threat African militaries pose to African people. AFRICOM trains, supports, and expands that threat.

… when somebody gives you a gift, the purpose is mostly to compromise your decision making. – Obenfo

The United States (US) Government on Saturday, presented four speed patrol boats to the Ghana Navy, to help ensure maritime safety and security. – Sekondi, March 13, GNA

SEKONDI, Ghana - A group of Defender-class response boats perform maneuvers for a crowd at the naval base in Sekondi, Ghana, March 13, 2010, during a handover ceremony. The boats were donated to the Ghana Armed Forces by the U.S. Government. The event coincided with the visit of USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) to Sekondi as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, an international initiative developed by U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa that aims to improve maritime safety and security in West and Central Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty OFficer 2nd Class John Stratton)

Ms Julie Furuta-Toy, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Ghana presented certificates on the boats to Lieutenant-General Joseph Henry Smith (rtd), Minister of Defense, at a ceremony at the Western Naval Command in Sekondi.

Lt-General Smith thanked the US Government for the gift, which he said is an expression of the cordial relationship between the two countries and hoped the friendship between the two countries would be further strengthened. He spoke of the economic, social and security assistance the country has received from US government over the years, saying that, Ghana had received security assistance such as the International Military Education and Training (IMET) and the African Contingency Training Assistance (ACOTA) programmes.

Lt-General Smith said USS Gunston Hall; a US Naval is presently berthed at the Western Naval Command for the 2010 Africa Partnership Training Programme. He said the government is committed to equipping the Ghana Navy, to play a pivotal role in the protection of the countries maritime resources, especially fisheries stock and the oil find. He said steps were being taken to complete the Slipway and the Test bench Projects at the Sekondi Naval Dockyard to enhance fleet maintenance and ensure availability of ships to perform assigned roles.

Miss Furuta-Toy said the four boats are meant to augment three defender boats presented to the Ghana Navy in October 2008. She said the US is proud of its multi-national military partnerships, and that from 2008 to 2009, five West and Central African Countries received 17 identical defender class boats.

The USS Gunston Hall on which the patrol team will be travelling

The US African Partnership Station, currently led in West Africa by the USS Gunston Hall has been engaged in training missions. Sammy Darko, one of the Ghanaian reporters hosted by the US Africa Command in its Stuttgart headquarters, was on board the USS Gunston Hall and a witness to the training. It looks like he is an embedded reporter in the way the US military has used reporters in the US media. He writes for JoyFM, myjoyonline.com:

The United States Africa Command is collaborating with the Ghana navy to patrol the country’s high seas.

The naval commands say the surveillance has become necessary to check increasing illegal activities such as drug trafficking, fishing and dumping of waste along the West coast.

The project will also involve training for Ghana’s Navy and logistical support.

Joy FM’s Sammy Darko will be on the patrol ship and he believes the trip will be a challenging one.

Expectations

The capacity of the Ghana Navy is soon expected to be boosted to a level where they can ward off most illegal activities on the high seas.

In recent times, concerns have been raised about the country’s inability to combat drug traffickers, illegal fishing and dumping of waste on the high seas.

That is because the Navy lacks the equipment and required skills to do so.
But the US Africa Command is hoping to reverse the trend with its African partnership station.

Pirates on high seas

The object of this program is to improve maritime safety and security on the African continent.

Under the program, officers of the Ghana Navy will be given professional training and provided with some logistics to aid in patrol offshore.

For instance, under this exercise the US has given Ghana four defender class boats for surveillance. These are fast speed boats attached to a vessel to chase out criminals on the high seas.

The training is considered crucial as the nation prepares to sell its oil in commercial quantities in the last quarter of this year.

So for the next eight days, my job on this trip will be to observe and if possible, assist in the arrest of criminals.

Mr. Darko has a unique opportunity. I hope he learns much from his chance to observe. In another article from March 2010 in his blog he writes:

Seventeen Ghanaian Navy officers and sailors are receiving training on how to secure the nations maritime boundary on a US naval ship currently on sail on the gulf of Guinea.

Also onboard the ship are navy officers from other West African countries. The idea is to pull together synergy on how to check insecurity on the African waters in recent times.

The training is being organized by the United States naval forces Africa and its partners under a program code named African partnership station.

The reporter is currently onboard the USS Gunston hall currently enroute to Sao Tome and Principe to deliver some items. It will take us roughly four days to get there.

To give you an idea about the ship I am on, picture two football fields put together, that is how big this ship is.

It is a well equipped vessel. Inside this ship are several lecture halls where naval officers from Ghana and other West African countries are undergoing tutorials on a wide range of maritime courses with emphasis on professional development, respond capabilities, and infrastructural development.

Some of the students tell me the lessons have been very useful. ” I have learnt how to administer first aid to any of my offers if they were to suffer injury- A ghanaian naval officer said”.

For the next seven days, trainees are expected to also undergo practical training as we sail to Sao Tome and back to Tema.

There is no question that both the training and equipment are useful and much needed in Ghana. The drug trade plus trade in other contraband, the illegal fishing and dumping are a plague on Ghanaian shores and all African shores. The US military is actively targeting Africa. With a seabase, the US may have the equivalent of a base in Ghana, without an actual land base. All the arrows point to Africa in the USMC map of the future global security environment pictured below. You can read the planning and the rational in the text on the graphic, also reprinted below. Of course a great deal of US policy is exacerbating these problems rather than helping resolve them, as discussed in many contexts over several years on this blog.

The text reads:
Future Security Environment (PDF p.3)
“Hybrid” Threats &
Challenges …
Largely in the Littorals
ARC OF INSTABILITY
• Nuclear armed states
• Top ten oil reserves
• Significant drug regions
• Anti-West attitudes
• Increasing Global Interdependence
• Emerging Global Powers
• Improved anti-access weapons
• “Haves” vs “Have Nots”
The “asymmetrical kind of war” we face today will last at least two decades…

The African Partnership Station is an active part of the seabase concept The original of the above graphic is at Seabasing Concepts and Programs PDF, but it may not be possible to connect from IP addresses outside the US. As you can see from the words along the bottom, they are preparing for a war they expect to last at least 2o years. As has been discussed on this blog many times, in respect to many countries, much of this war will be self fulfilling prophecy, the result of militarization: training, and arming the continent. The US sees sea basing as the way to use its military to police and control the world, and particularly the oil and other resources it covets from Africa. And because the US military is overextended, they will be using military contractors for a lot of this arming and training activity, making them even less accountable.

The US appears to have given up on putting an Africa Command headquarters in Africa. At present it looks likely to stay in Stuttgart, or move to the continental United States. With seabasing, the Africa Command does not need a land base in Africa. It can bring an immense base offshore of any country with a coastline. So you may:

Imagine a future where the people of countries at odds with U.S. policies suddenly find America’s “massive seaborne platforms” floating just outside their territorial waters.

Ghanaians remain smart and skeptical, from the five comments at myjoyonline, two comments are simply grateful for the equipment. The other three follow:

US-Ghana Navy
Posted By: Piorgah Tetteh , 3/18/2010 1:01:42 PM
So finally, the US Africom is using diversionary tactics to invade the continent. They failed to set up a base here and are now coming under the pretext of partnership to operate. The US will go to any length to poke its nose in people’s business. Sake of this small oil wey we find…
Azaa Amerika. Atta Mill, shine your eyes.

Yankee Go Home
Posted By: ObibiNIBAKOJO , 3/18/2010 5:41:44 PM
Ghanaman ,the US has double standards and hidden motives…warn president mills and the Ghana Navy…Look at this illegal drugs…the most drugs are here in the US and the Carribean route ……don’t let this stupid marines fool you…Ghanaman.

USA IN GHANA? am sad!!!¬!!
Posted By: ab , 3/19/2010 4:26:09 PM
USA oooooh? am supprised they are here too. is because of the oil oooooh Ghana. very soon we will start fight over the oil and they will start selling guns to us at the exchange of oil. USA. is our leaders really reading between two lines at all.
why allowed this people here. my heart is bleeding seriously

The article at GhanaWeb about the donated boats has 42 comments and the majority are skeptical of this military gift, or at the very least are skeptical about US motives, many wonder what he payback will be. Here are a few:

Author: the truth
those are the two agendas for the United state in ghana. africom or oil and i hope god willing our foolish leaders be smart and stay away from the United State. else we are doomed

Author: Obenfo
… apart from food and other humanitarian aid to victim nations of natural disasters, nothing really goes out of the US free without satisfying the American interest.
It is strange why Africans expect things free. I think it’s about time we Africans understand that when somebody gives you a gift, the purpose is mostly to compromise your decision making.
My friends, nothing is free in America
so why should Africans expect something free from America without giving back anyting in return?
Most often, it is more dangerous to recieve gifts without a clear cut condition than those with clearly stated conditions, in that sense you can negotiate well and once you meet those conditions you become free.

Author: KOLA,LONDON MAIN
US have been sharing gifts with the Sekondi Naval Base since time immemorial.
Training and development exchange programmes have existed between the two countries as well but it doesn’t mean we should sell Ghana to the US …

Author: girls sp
africa command in ghana. mmmm. us naval base in ghana.

The following is a huge graphic that portrays the entire global seabasing concept. There are humanitarian activities that are part of this concept, but they are there to serve the military objective. Acronyms from this graphic are listed below.

Seabase Overview - Joint Seabasing Responsive Scalable National Power Projection (this is a very large graphic, you may need to click more than once and scroll around to read it all)

acronyms from the graphic:
CSG Carrier Strike Group
ESG Expeditionary Strike Group
GFS Global Fleet Station
HA/DR Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
MAGTF Marine Air Ground Task Force
MARDET Marine Detachment
MCO Major Combat Operation
MPF(F) Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future)
MEU Marine Expeditionary Unit
NEO Noncombatant Evacuation Operations
SOF Special Operations Forces
SPMAGTF Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force

90,000 tons of diplomacy is just the beginning.

Imagine a future where the people of countries at odds with U.S. policies suddenly find America’s “massive seaborne platforms” floating just outside their territorial waters.

The George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) the nation’s 10th and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, from a Northrop Grumman poster. (click to enlarge)

That future is now present. We have seen a massive exercise in sea basing in the occupation of Haiti following the earthquake. A word document on the Haitian exercise is linked to this page, pictured below, from the Marine Corps on Sea Basing. In another linked document they describe seabasing:

From NWP 3-62/MCWP 3-31.7, Seabasing (PDF p.19)
“Seabasing, a national capability, is the overarching transformational operating concept for projecting and sustaining naval power and joint forces, which assures joint access by leveraging the operational maneuver of sovereign, distributed, and networked forces operating globally from the sea.”
“The sea base is an inherently maneuverable, scalable aggregation of distributed, networked platforms that enable the global power projection of offensive and defensive forces from the sea, and includes the ability to assemble, equip, project, support, and sustain those forces without reliance on land bases within the Joint Operations Area.”

The first major exercise in seabasing was in Liberia, I wrote about it earlier in this post: Seabasing Begins Off the Coast of Liberia. Currently the US an ongoing military presence in the Seychelles that certainly looks like establishing a host nation for a base, and as a friendly neighbor for seabasing. I wrote about the activity in the Seychelles in Building A US Military Base In The Seychelles, and Political Assassin Robots Flying In African Skies. The African Partnership Station has been visiting all around the coast of Africa, partnering in African countries for the US Africa Command. It has spent a lot of time along the coast of West Africa, and a lot of time visiting Ghana. Although AFRICOM officials continue to assure Ghanaians they have no interest in establishing a military base in Ghana, that may be because a sea base is just around the corner. Seabasing is an extension of the doctrine of Full-spectrum Dominance. One of the most succinct descriptions of Full-spectrum Dominance comes from Harold Pinter in his 2005 Nobel acceptance speech:

… the United States is now totally frank about putting its cards on the table. … Its official declared policy is now defined as ‘full spectrum dominance’. That is not my term, it is theirs. ‘Full spectrum dominance’ means control of land, sea, air and space and all attendant resources.

Controlling all attendant resources, most importantly oil, is what the current push for US global militarization is all about. The occupation of Haiti, the revival of the US 4th fleet for Latin America, AFRICOM, with its African Partnership Station patrolling the coasts of Africa, and its ongoing military to military exercises, as well as covering the globe with SOUTHCOM, EUCOM, CENTCOM, PACOM, NORTHCOM, are all part of Full-spectrum Dominance. Below is a screenshot of the USMC web page Seabasing – Enabling Joint Operations & Overcoming Access Challenges

USMC webpage Seabasing – Enabling Joint Operations & Overcoming Access Challenges. The African Partnership Station and the Haitian exercise are circled in yellow. (click to enlarge)

The Pentagon sees security as a full spectrum global operation, as illustrated in the slide below from a linked document, Seabasing Concepts and Programs PDF . They project at least 2 decades of war, based mainly in coastal areas, the littorals, all around the world. Documents and videos linked to the above page cover various aspects of seabasing.

The graphic below is the future security environment the US Department of Defense imagines. The map area outlined is what the Pentagon calls the Arc of Instability. All the arrows point at Africa. Keep the areas outlined on this map in mind when looking at the other maps below. Look at the arrows; all are directed at Africa, including one pointed from Latin America to West Africa, and one from western Asia into northeast Africa, as well as arrows pointed at northwest Africa and at Somalia:

The text reads:
Future Security Environment (PDF p.3)
“Hybrid” Threats &
Challenges …
Largely in the Littorals
ARC OF INSTABILITY
• Nuclear armed states
• Top ten oil reserves
• Significant drug regions
• Anti-West attitudes
• Increasing Global Interdependence
• Emerging Global Powers
• Improved anti-access weapons
• “Haves” vs “Have Nots”
The “asymmetrical kind of war” we face today will last at least two decades…

Clearly this is war, not a humanitarian mission. That is why it is called a war and assigned to the military. The military may engage in humanitarian exercises, but the threat is represented as a military security threat. The real reason for the global militarization is controlling resources and containing potential rivals. Africa is a central target because of its vast resources, oil, mineral, land, water, and more. Labeling almost the entire continent as part of the Arc of Instability demonstrates an intent to keep the continent destabilized. The intent to destabilize is particularly evident in North Africa where the US has Lied Into the War On Terror in the Sahara. The security environment pictured shows the US fears south south alliances and trade, alliances and trade that bypass the United States entirely. The big emerging economies are China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey. Along with Russia, these make up the largest 7 emerging economies, the E7.

I have wondered for a long time about why the US has been wedded to a policy in Somalia that is obviously disastrous for Somalia and harmful to nearby countries, as well as doing no good for the citizens of the United States. The US is maintaining a massive naval presence off the coast of Somalia. But it has done nothing to curb the illegal fishing that has devastated the economy of Somalia, a piracy far more significant in overall cost compared to the value of losses to the Somali pirates. Rather the US, NATO, and the international navies off the coast of Somalia appear to be assisting the illegal fishing at the expense of Somalia. Mohamed Hassan explains the global reasons for US Somalia policy quite clearly. The US policy is about containing emerging Asian powers, especially China and India, about controlling trade in the Indian Ocean, and about preventing the growth of south south alliances and trade. Preventing rather than supporting a functioning government in Somalia, keeping Somalia weak and unstable, is part of the reason for the policy:

Somalia: How Colonial Powers drove a Country into Chaos
Mohamed Hassan interviewed by Gregoire Lalieu and Michel Collon, Feb 10,2010

Q: Somalia had every reason to succeed: an advantageous geographical situation, oil, ores and only one religion and one language for the whole territory; a rare phenomenon in Africa. Somalia could have been a great power in the region. But the reality is completely different: famine, wars, lootings, piracy, bomb attacks. How did this country sink? Why has there been no Somali government for approximately twenty years?

MH: Since 1990, there has been no government in Somalia. The country is in the hands of warlords. European and Asiatic ships took advantage of this chaotic situation and fished along the Somali coast without a license or respect for elementary rules. They did not observe the quotas in force in their own country to protect the species and they used fishing techniques –even bombs!- that created huge damages to the wealth of the Somali seas.

That’s not all! Taking also advantage of this lack of any political authority, European companies, with the help of the mafia, dumped nuclear wastes offshore Somali coasts. Europe knew of this but turned a blind eye as that solution presented a practical and economical advantage for the nuclear waste management. Yet, the 2005 Tsunami brought a big part of these wastes into the Somali lands. Unfamiliar diseases appeared for the first time among the population. …

Q: No Somali state for almost twenty years! How is that possible?

MH: This is the result of an American strategy. In 1990, the country was bruised by conflicts, famine and lootings; the state collapsed. Facing this situation, the United States, who discovered oil in Somalia a few years ago, launched Operation Restore Hope in 1992. For the first time, US marines intervened in Africa to take control of a country. It was also the first time that a military invasion was launched in the name of humanitarian interference.

Q: Why is it strategic?

MH: The issue is the control of the Indian Ocean. Look at the maps.

Somalia, outlined in yellow, opposite India on the Indian Ocean, with the surrounding countries (click to enlarge)

As mentioned, western powers have an important share of the responsibility in the Somali piracy development. But instead of telling the truth and paying compensation for what they did, those powers criminalize the phenomena in order to justify their position in the region. Under the pretext of fighting the piracy, NATO is positioning its navy in the Indian Ocean.

Q: What is the real goal?

MH: To control the economic development of the emerging powers, mainly India and China. Half of the world’s container traffic and 70% of the total traffic of petroleum products passes through the Indian Ocean. From that strategic point of view, Somalia is a very important place: the country has the longest coast of Africa (3.300 km) and faces the Arabian Gulf and the Straight of Hormuz, two key points of the region economy. Moreover, if a pacific response is brought to the Somali problem, relations between African in one hand, and India and China on the other hand, could develop through the Indian Ocean. Those American competitors could then have influence in that African area. Mozambique, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Zanzibar, South Africa etc. All those countries connected to the Indian Ocean could gain easy access to the Asian market and develop fruitful economic relationship. Nelson Mandela, when he was president of South Africa, had mentioned the need of an Indian Ocean revolution, with new economic relationships. The United States and Europe do not want this project. That is why they prefer to keep Somalia unstable.
(h/t africa comments for Somalia information)

The Indian Ocean, both Somalia, and the Seychelles where the US is establishing a military presence, are indicted with a yellow outline. (click to enlarge)

Countries have noticed the US actions and intentions. South Africa, India, and Brazil have cooperated in joint naval exercises.

The full spectrum project is underway all around the globe. Efforts to contain China are well underway in Southeast Asia, from How the US got its Philippine bases back:

The American war on terrorism has provided the US an excellent justification to hasten its reestablishment of a strategic presence in Southeast Asia … Combating Islamic terrorism in this region [Southeast Asia] carried a secondary benefit for the United States: it positioned the US for the future containment of nearby China.

The Indian Ocean, with the strategic positions of Somalia and the Seychelles marked with yellow. Also the Philippines marked with yellow, strategically located in the Pacific east and south of China. All are key to sea basing. (click to enlarge)

In Latin America the US intends to contain Brazil and Venezuela. In February 2010 the US released a USGS report indicating that Venezuela now has larger oil reserves than Saudi Arabia. It is heavy crude, but still recoverable and refinable. One of the techniques of containment is stability operations, in fact these stability operations help keep the countries surrounding Brazil and Venezuela destabilized and in conflict. If you look at the Arc of Instability, you will note that it clings around the borders of Brazil.

Again from Pinter’s speech:

Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America’s favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as ‘low intensity conflict’. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued – or beaten to death – the same thing – and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed.

Brazil as a Key Player
by Raúl Zibechi | February 17, 2010

“Bit by bit, quietly, like a spider weaving its web in the middle of the night, an impressive military circle threatens Venezuela and, by extension, the entire group of progressive governments in Latin America,” writes Ignacio Ramonet in the January issue of Le Monde Diplomatique. A recent study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) established that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, thanks to recent discoveries in the Orinoco Belt, now possesses 513 reserve billion barrels of crude, accessible with “current technology.” Venezuela thus replaces Saudi Arabia, which “only” has 266 billion barrels, as possessor of the world’s largest oil reserves.

The article by Ramonet and the USGS conclusion are based on solid evidence. It is not the first time that it has been estimated that Venezuela’s reserves have are truly enormous. The crucial difference is that this time the confirmation comes from a North-American agency, not just from the Bolivarian employees. In effect, the USGS report effectively doubles the reserves in Venezuela’s domain. As for Ramonet’s contention, various developments in the region in recent months seem to substantiate it: in March 2009, we discovered that Colombia had allowed the United States to take over and control seven military bases; in June 2009 political turmoil resulted in the coup in Honduras where the United States has the military base of Soto Cano; in Oct. 2009 the president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, announced the concession of four military bases to the Pentagon. The total number of U.S. bases, including the two bases in Aruba and Curacao (Dutch Antilles), to the north and east of Venezuela to date number 13. The current rapid conversion of Haiti into a gigantic aircraft carrier incorporating the 4th Fleet will no doubt soon add another.

Aiming South
The intervention in Haiti is so blatantly militaristic that the China Daily (Jan. 21, 2010) asked whether it was the intention of the United States to make Haiti the 51st state of the Union. The newspaper quotes TIME Magazine which categorically states that “Haiti is being turned into the 51st state, and while the process unfolds, it already is America’s backyard.” In one week, the Pentagon had mobilized one aircraft carrier, 33 rescue planes, numerous war ships, and 11,000 marines. MINUSTAH, the UN stabalization mission in Haiti, consists of 7,000 soldiers. According to the Folha de Sao Paulo (Jan. 20, 2010), the Brazilian military, which had, up until the earthquake, been in charge of the UN mission and thus been the main military presence on the island, will have been outnumbered by the United States with projected numbers in a few weeks reaching 16,000 soldiers, or “12 times more military personnel than Brazil.”

In the same issue of the China Daily, an article about the American influence on the Caribbean asserts that the military intervention in Haiti will have a long-term effect on U.S. strategy in the Caribbean and in Latin America, given that it maintains a long-running confrontation with Cuba and Venezuela. According to Beijing, the region is “the door to its backyard,” which it seeks to “control tightly and exclusively” in order to “extend its influence south.”

To the south is the whole Andean region, which includes not only Venezuela but above all, Brazil.

The US Government still treats military spending as spending that has no cost to the nation or its citizens. As a result of a decade of making war off the books, keeping the real figures out of the federal budget, the United States is significantly weakened financially. It has failed to invest in its own growth and own citizenry, and has given away its manufacturing base. It is deeply in debt ot China. The US media is mostly owned by those who continue to profit from US military and financial adventurism. The US public know comparatively little about what is going on in the rest of the world, and are mostly unaware that they don’t know. In this regard:

In the last few weeks, a few important issues have come to light … On Jan. 20, 2010, the British newspaper The Financial Times published a comparative list of the 10 top banks in the world in terms of market capitilization for the year 2000 and again for 2009. The results are shocking. In 2000, five of the top 10 were American: Bank of New York, Mellon, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs were placed in first, third, fourth, and fifth respectively. In second place was the British bank Lloyds. In other words, out of the top 10, the top five were American and British. The crème de la crème of financial power rested in Wall Street and the City of London, and in other Western countries.

Only nine years later, the view has changed dramatically: in the top 10 banks five are Chinese: China Merchants Bank, China Citic Bank, ICBC, and China Construction (nos. 1-4), Bank of Communications (no.6), and three Brazilian banks: Itau Unibanco (no. 5), Bradesco (no. 7) and Banco do Brasil (no. 9). The former giants of banking have sunk. Goldman Sachs now sits at no. 22 on the list and JP Morgan Chase at 31. While the Wall Street banks dropped massively in value, the Chinese banks doubled their value in 2009. “The result of the turbulence is the dramatic shift in the financial center of gravity,” concludes the Financial Times.

A large proportion of these banks, like Banco do Brasil and three of the Chinese banks, are state-owned, an interesting Copernican twist to this financial adjustment away from the capitalist nucleus which had its base in the United States. To complete the picture, it is necessary to look at the vulnerability of countries regarding their public and private debt and their GDP (gross domestic product), as tabled by LEAP (the European Laboratory of Political Anticipation) in December 2009. In first place in terms of vulnerability is Iceland, followed closely by various smaller Baltic and Eastern European states, Greece in fifth place, and Spain in sixth. In ninth and tenth places are Great Britain and the United States, where the federal debt is dangerously close to 100% of GDP. In the United States, the combined private and public debt is triple the annual GDP. If these countries had been South American, they would have defaulted on their sovereign debt, and some analysts predict that this eventuality is not far off.

… Pricewaterhouse Coopers released figures that indicate a dramatic twist on the global stage. It predicts that in 2020, the G7 (the United States, Japan, France, Germany, the UK, Italy, and Canada) will have an economic weight equal to that of the emerging nations, recently christened the E7: China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey.

In this global power reshuffling, Brazil is very well positioned. Its enviable situation in terms of energy self-sufficiency, due to possessing large untapped reserves of both oil and uranium, makes it unique in the global superpower game.

Brazil has the sixth-largest uranium reserves in the world, and this figure relates to only the 25% of Brazilian territory that has been surveyed. Once the reserves in the basin of Santos are adequately calculated, it is estimated Brazil will own one of the five largest oil reserves in the world (more than 50 billion barrels). Brazilian multinational companies are already some of the biggest in the world …

The Brazilian Development Bank, BNDES, has been playing its cards close to its chest in favor of Brazilian capitalism. It is the largest development bank in the world, and has “transformed itself into the most powerful tool for the restructuring of Brazilian capitalism.”* … Lula’s government has pushed a policy that “ensures the active participation of the state in the building of new global players in a wide range of economic activity.”

Brazil has no option but to fortify its defenses, given that its power as a nation shows no signs of slowing. …

Brazil has understood the essence of the game plan of the United States. The Pentagon has dedicated to Brazil the same strategy it uses to contain China: to fan the fires of conflict on its borders in order to destabilize and prevent its ascent. It is the same logic which has transferred the center of military gravity from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Seen in this context, it is easier to understand what is happening in Latin America, of which the massive militarization of Haiti is the latest chapter. Haiti is the first step in the operations of the 4th Fleet. Taking the predicted calamities caused by climate change in the near future into account, the operation in Haiti will provide a template for what is to come in this decade.

In South America, the United States Southern Command military installations surround Brazil in the Andean region to the west and south. The powder keg lies in the Colombian-Venezuelan and Colombian-Ecuadorian conflicts, which have the potential to ignite the whole region. The tension generated by the Colombian attack on the encampment of Raul Reyes on Ecuadorian soil has been exacerbated by the de facto occupation of Haiti. Latin America is marching toward an unprecedented increased militarization of international relations which, with the exception of Brazil, it is neither psychologically nor physically prepared to defend itself from.

With the US in debt, and failing to invest in itself to create growth, how long and how well will it be able to sustain the present military expansion? Is the US now doing to itself what it did to the former Soviet Union, amping up the threats, and forcing itself to spend itself into bankruptcy with military spending? It is certain to be able to cause a great deal more destabilization and destruction throughout the world before that might happen.

US Military Intervention on behalf of corporate interests has a long history in the United States. Back in 1933 Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, the most decorated soldier of his time said:

… the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

(from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, author of War is a Racket)

The same is equally true today. The only change is that what was Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism is now Super-Globalistic-Capitalism. People should not have to suffer and die all around the globe so that a few rich can become richer. Genuine diplomacy and mutually beneficial trade agreements are both preferable and still possible. Here in the US, in what is supposed to be the beacon of democracy, I hardly hear any voices calling for this.

Here is the timeline for full implementation of seabasing (PDF p.38):

Seabasing timeline (click to enlarge)

acronyms:
MLP Mobile Landing Platform
JHSV Joint High-Speed Vessel
MPF(F) Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future)
MLP Mobile Landing Platform
LMSR Large, Medium Speed, Roll-On/Roll-Off
T-AKE Auxiliary Dry Cargo and Ammunition Ship
LHA(R) Amphibious Assault Ship (Replacement)
MPF(F) Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) Future Operating Concept
LPD Amphibious Transport Dock
JMAC Joint Maritime Assault Connector
IOC Initial Operational Capacity
FOC Full Operational Capacity

To summarize seabasing, from a US Marine Corps Seabasing Brochure (PDF).

Seabasing is a concept that enables employing the
full range of government capabilities from the sea.
Innovations in shipbuilding, cargo handling, at sea
transfer and sea based defense systems allowed the
Seabasing concept to become a reality. Currently in
order to employ an expeditionary force of 15,000 or
greater, a secure port and or airfield ashore is needed,
however by 2022 it will be possible to do this at sea.

Such a capability recognizes that nations are
increasingly placing restrictions on or denying the use
of their facilities at a time when we must have a greater
forward presence to reduce the ability of extremists
to gain a foothold or disrupt the flow of commerce
.
Seabasing will allow the use of the world’s oceans as
large or small scale Joint, Multinational and
Interagency bases for operations without dependence
on ports or airfields ashore.

Extremists may be those who legitimately disagree with US policies. The flow of commerce that needs protection is commerce that advantages the United States, commerce that advantages those who wield corporate power over the US government.

And for a graphic that pulls together the entire Seabasing concept here is Joint Seabasing Overview, PDF. Notice that the Spectrum of Operations pictured arches across the top of the Indian Ocean, from Somalia through the Arabian peninsula, through western Asia and down towards India and south Asia. You will also see the enabling air and sea equipment pictured, and text describing the Full Spectrum Utility of seabasing.

Joint Seabasing Responsive Scalable National Power Projection (this is a very large graphic, you may need to click more than once and scroll around to read it all)

acronyms:
CSG Carrier Strike Group
ESG Expeditionary Strike Group
GFS Global Fleet Station
HA/DR Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
MAGTF Marine Air Ground Task Force
MARDET Marine Detachment
MCO Major Combat Operation
MPF(F) Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future)
MEU Marine Expeditionary Unit
NEO Noncombatant Evacuation Operations
SOF Special Operations Forces
SPMAGTF Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force

The US Africa Command, AFRICOM, is beginning to put together a US military base in the Seychelles.

US to Base Drones in Seychelles to Fight Piracy

The United States is planning to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles in the Seychelles islands in the coming weeks …
Dozens of American military and civilian personnel will also be based at the airport to oversee the Navy-led mission for the next several months.

MAHE ISLAND, Seychelles - Members of the U.S. Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3, show Seychelles Coast Guard divers how to conduct underwater searches during an exercise at the coast guard base on Mahe Island, Seychelles, August 5, 2009. Members of the EODMU-3 are currently deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Trina Jeanjacques)

MAHE ISLAND, Seychelles - Members of the U.S. Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3, show Seychelles Coast Guard divers how to conduct underwater searches during an exercise at the coast guard base on Mahe Island, Seychelles, August 5, 2009. Members of the EODMU-3 are currently deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Trina Jeanjacques

SEYCHELLES - Seychelles President James Michel (right) shakes hands with General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa command, during Ward's visit to the island nation in August 2009. Michel and Ward engaged in discussions on security-related issues, including the strengthening of U.S. surveillance in collaboration with the Seychelles government to fight against piracy. (Photo courtesy of Seychelles, Office of the President)

SEYCHELLES - Seychelles President James Michel (right) shakes hands with General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa command, during Ward's visit to the island nation in August 2009. Michel and Ward engaged in discussions on security-related issues, including the strengthening of U.S. surveillance in collaboration with the Seychelles government to fight against piracy. (Photo courtesy of Seychelles, Office of the President)

In addition to the Reaper UAVs, the U.S. military is also considering basing Navy P-3 Orion patrol aircraft in the Seychelles for a limited time. Like the Reaper, the Orion can survey a large region and help deter attacks.

As you can see from the picture above, the U.S. Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3 are doing training in the Seychelles. So it looks like they may be preparing for dives looking for explosive ordnance at some point. So far there is no indication Somali pirates have sunk any explosive ordinance, although US military contractors may have done so in Lake Victoria.

The leadership of the Seychelles seem pleased with the US presence.
US Navy steps up Seychelles piracy protection

The president of the Republic of Seychelles, James Michel, has hailed this week’s discussions with General William E. Ward, commander of US Africa Command(AFRICOM), as “extremely warm and fruitful.”
President James Michel has welcomed the announcement by the United States of America of its intention to operate surveillance assets, to include P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles in Seychelles.
The announcement follows in depth high-level discussions between the two countries on means of strengthening the security situation in the region, which builds on recently ratified provisions of the Status of Forces Agreement by the Seychelles National Assembly

“This new venture is both a concrete step in the fight against piracy and a symbol of the trust and understanding which exists between the governments of the Republic of Seychelles and the United States of America. We look forward to continually strengthening this partnership based on our mutual desire for peace and stability in the region,” the President stated following the meeting

A Status of Forces Agreement is one necessary preliminary for any basing activity. You can see the warm and fruitful meeting of General Ward and President Michel in the picture above.

A recent Ecoterra International SMCM update makes the point that the Seychelles are:

… a key transshipment point for poached tuna from the Indian Ocean to Japan.

Although much of the piracy in Somali waters is illegal and unregulated fishing, the international navies gathered in Somali waters seem disinclined to do anything to prevent this particularly profitable form of piracy.

From the Stars and Stripes: U.S. plans land-based UAV patrols to combat piracy

About 75 U.S. military personnel and civilians will be headed to the Seychelles islands in the coming weeks to set up the Reaper operations, which could start in October or November. U.S. Africa Command is calling the Navy-led mission Ocean Look.

The mission should last several months, with a Reaper airborne at all times, Crawley said. Details on exactly how long the UAVs would be in the Seychelles are still being worked out, he said.

The UAVs would not be armed.

“We will get it up and running and see for a few months if it is the right assets and location (for counterpiracy). It is a very strategic location

It is a very strategic location for a lot more than counterpiracy, which looks a bit like an afterthought in that sentence.

From the Seychelles Nation on August 12,

US surveillance plane visits Seychelles
As part of US support for Seychelles against piracy and other security threats, a P-3 Orion aircraft of the United States Africa Command arrives in Seychelles today.

The visit of this military plane is said by the US embassy in Port Louis, Mauritius, to be a further sign of the ongoing partnership between the people of the US and of Seychelles.

The P-3 Orion, a four-engine turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft, has been the US Navy’s frontline, land-based maritime patrol aircraft since the 1960s.

Originally designed as a long-range, anti-submarine warfare patrol plane, the P-3C’s mission has evolved since the late 1990s to include surveillance either at sea or over land, where its long range and long loiter time have proved invaluable assets.

The P-3C has advanced submarine detection sensors such as directional frequency and ranging sonobuoys, and magnetic anomaly detection equipment.

The avionics system is integrated by a general purpose digital computer that supports all the tactical displays and monitors, automatically launches weapons and provides flight information to the pilots. The system also coordinates navigation information and accepts sensor data input for tactical display and storage.

This looks like the US is looking for a lot more than just Somalis in surface boats.
h/t to b real’s africa comments, August and September 2009 for much of this research.

And an IMG Press reports AFRICOM pitched their tents TO SEYCHELLES It reports much of the same information as above, but adds something about the money involved (via google translator Italian to English):

The U.S. military presence was requested by local government after the attacks of pirates against ships at sea, some among the islands. Last April, the President of Seychelles, James Michel, had interrupted an official visit to Japan after two national units had been seized off the Comoros islands. A few days later, the cruise ship MSC Melody “, en route from Durban (South Africa) to Genoa with over 1,000 passengers and 550 crew members, was approached by a pirate boat but was readily detected and blocked by a Spanish frigate. “Such incidents – said President Michel – are dangerous not only because they are acts of terrorism, but because it might push the cruise ship out of our territorial waters and seriously wounding the national tourism.”

The dependence of the country from foreign currency is total. Unable to think of any form of development or at least self-centered to a diversification of sources of economic input to the government authorities the defense of luxury tourism becomes vital, at the cost of accelerating the transfer of islands and islets to individuals and give way for the U.S. militarization of the archipelago. Already a year before the crisis linked to Somali pirates, the employment rate of the hotel industry had suffered a decline of 60-65 percent. In favor of the Seychelles is the International Monetary Fund intervened with an emergency loan, while the Paris Club has canceled 45% of a debt of 215 million.

An anti-pirates, the Seychelles have equipped their coastguards two modern fast boats. They also asked a number of countries to transfer their military units in defense of territorial waters. The legislative authority has already approved a pact of “military cooperation” with the U.S. military, while the Department of Defense has allocated $ 300,000 for the country in the 2008-2010 period of the training program “IMET International Military Educations and Training “. Military advisers and specialists of “Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA)”, the U.S. joint forces unit stationed in Djibouti, working alongside the local military since 2005. In May 2009, the men of Africom Command in Stuttgart have held a weekly cycle of conferences and meetings with local military and civilian authorities in view of “improving procedures for air traffic control” and a “strengthening of bilateral for security and intelligence and reduce criminal activity in the Indian Ocean. ” The next month, in the main ports of the Seychelles have made a long stop operating naval units of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, the multinational force set by the command of the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain to patrol the waters of the Indian and Gulf of Aden. Alongside the military boats in the Seychelles work well for some time a ship of the Indian Navy helicopter carrier, armed with guns “Bofors” 40 mm .. Sixty French marines are aboard a dozen large vessels for tuna fishing in the waters of Seychelles that will remain until the end of October.

I think this provides a clue as to why the Seychelles allowed, and may have invited a US base. They need the money badly. Tourism has collapsed, probably due to the global economy as much or more than piracy. Supposedly this US military activity is only a temporary arrangement. But the base at Djibouti was supposed to be temporary, but is now digging in for permanent residence. And I wonder if the French marines may be protecting the tuna pirates.

Right now nobody is calling it a base, rather a temporary agreement. But it is clear that what is going on is preliminary to setting up more activities and more infrastructure. The Seychelles needs the income, and the US wants a base in that strategic location, and is putting up the money. But the US is not without competition, as b real points out:

… , the Seychelles archipelago is a valuable geostrategic Indian Ocean asset in the eyes of all the big players on global stage. China and India are currently wooing its government. Neocons and kin are worried about China challenging U.S. naval dominance & superpower status by utilizing this “”unsinkable aircraft carrier” in its line of communications w/ Africa:

Taking into account the fact that the Republic of Seychelles 110 Islands are scattered over a wide surface of the Western Indian Ocean, which includes a vital oil route and taking into account that important oil producing Nations are within rocket striking distance, the geo-political importance of Seychelles cannot be under-estimated.

________
For more on drones over Africa see: Political Assassin Robots Flying In African Skies

US Rwanda military training Nov. 2008

US Rwanda military training Nov. 2008

GABIRO, Rwanda – Soldiers from the Rwanda Defence Force practice target shooting with their U.S. counterparts during a military-to-military training event at the Rwanda School of Infantry in Kigali, Rwanda on November 21, 2008. (Photo by Sergeant First Class Jonathan Platt, U.S. Defence Attache Office)

 

Daniel Volman has written an updated overview of AFRICOM published at Pambazuka News, AFRICOM from Bush to Obama.

He discusses the following questions:

  • What is AFRICOM?
  • What is AFRICOM’s mission?
  • Why is AFRICOM being created now?
  • What will AFRICOM do?
  • Where will AFRICOM’s headquarters be based?
  • What is to be done with AFRICOM?

As part of what will AFRICOM do?, Volman lists the various programs that are part of AFRICOM, or are being folded into AFRICOM. There are a number of bilateral and multilateral joint training programs and military exercises (excerpted from his article):

FLINTLOCK 2005 AND 2007 – Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) exercises … Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

TRANS-SAHARAN COUNTER-TERRORISM PARTNERSHIP (TSCTP) – links the United States with eight African countries: Mali, Chad, Niger, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria.

EAST AFRICA COUNTER-TERRORISM INITIATIVE (EACTI) – the EACTI has provided training to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.

AFRICA CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS TRAINING AND ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (ACOTA) – training to African military forces. … By FY 2007, nineteen African countries were participating in the ACOTA program (Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia).

INTERNATIONAL MILITARY EDUCATION AND TRAINING PROGRAM (IMET) – brings African military officers to military academies and other military educational institutions in the United States for professional training. Nearly all African countries participate in the program.

U.S. PRIVATE MILITARY CONTRACTORS IN AFRICA – [mostly] as part of the GPOI and ACOTA programs.

FOREIGN MILITARY SALES PROGRAM (FMS) – This program sells U.S. military equipment to African countries … The U.S. government provides loans to finance the purchase of virtually all of this equipment through the Foreign Military Financing Program (FMF), but repayment of these loans by African governments is almost always waived, so that they amount to free grants.

DIRECT COMMERCIAL SALES PROGRAM (DCS) – the Office of Defense Trade Controls of the Department of State licenses the sale of police equipment (including pistols, revolvers, shotguns, rifles, and crowd control chemicals) by private U.S. companies to foreign military forces, paramilitary units, police, and other government agencies.

AFRICAN COASTAL AND BORDER SECURITY PROGRAM (ACBS) – provides specialized equipment (such as patrol vessels and vehicles, communications equipment, night vision devices, and electronic monitors and sensors) to African countries to improve their ability to patrol and defend their own coastal waters and borders from terrorist operations, smuggling, and other illicit activities … No dedicated funding was requested for FY 2008

EXCESS DEFENSE ARTICLES PROGRAM (EDA) – ad hoc transfers of surplus U.S. military equipment to foreign governments. Transfers to African recipients have included the transfer of C-130 transport planes to South Africa and Botswana, trucks to Uganda, M-16 rifles to Senegal, and coastal patrol vessels to Nigeria.

ANTI-TERRORISM ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (ATA) – provide training, equipment, and technology to countries all around the world to support their participation in America’s Global War on Terrorism. … [includes] Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, Niger, Chad, Senegal, Mali, Liberia, Ethiopia, Botswana, Djibouti, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia, Angola, Mozambique.

SECTION 1206, 1207, AND 902 PROGRAMS – Section 1206 program—known as the Global Equip and Train program—was initiated in FY 2007 and permits the Pentagon—on its own initiative and with little congressional oversight—to provide training and equipment to foreign military, police, and other security forces to “combat terrorism and enhance stability.” …
The Section 1207 program—known as the Security and Stabilization Assistance program—was also started in FY 2007. It allows the Defense Department to transfer equipment, training, and other assistance to the State Department to enhance its operations. …
The Section 902 program—known as the Combatant Commanders’ Initiative Fund— can be used by the commanders of Africom and other combatant commands to fund their own relief and reconstruction projects, rather than relying on the State Department or the Agency for International Development to undertake these efforts.

COMBINED JOINT TASK FORCE-HORN OF AFRICA (CJTF-HOA) – designed to conduct naval and aerial patrols in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the eastern Indian Ocean as part of the effort to detect and counter the activities of terrorist groups in the region.
… provided intelligence to Ethiopia in support of its invasion of Somalia in January 2007 and used military facilities in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya to launch air raids and missile strikes in January and June of 2007 and May of 2008 against alleged al-Qaeda members involved in the Council of Islamic Courts in Somalia.

JOINT TASK FORCE AZTEC SILENCE (JTFAS) – carry out counter-terrorism operations in North and West Africa and to coordinate U.S. operations with those of countries in those regions.
… constitutes a major extension of the U.S. role in counter-insurgency warfare and highlights the dangers of America’s deepening involvement in the internal conflicts that persist in so many African countries

NAVAL OPERATIONS IN THE GULF OF GUINEA – Africom will also help coordinate naval operations along the African coastline.
… The U.S. Navy has been steadily increasing the level and pace of its operations in African waters in recent years …
… the United States—conducted what were described as “presence operations” in the Gulf of Guinea …

BASE ACCESS AGREEMENTS FOR COOPERATIVE SECURITY LOCATIONS AND FORWARD OPERATING SITES – Over the past few years, the Bush administration has negotiated base access agreements with the governments of Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierre Leone, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia. Under these agreements, the United States gains access to local military bases and other facilities so that they can be used by American forces as transit bases or as forward operating bases for combat, surveillance, and other military operations. They remain the property of the host African government and are not American bases in a legal sense, so that U.S. government officials are telling the truth—at least technically—when they deny that the United States has bases in these countries.

Go and read the article, AFRICOM from Bush to Obama. There is a great deal more information there than I have included here, including the amounts of money involved in many of these programs.

As regards Obama’s thinking regarding AFRICOM, Vollman quotes Obama, and his spokesman Whitney Schneidman. Based on these public statements Volman writes:

… this suggests that the Obama administration will continue to expand the entire spectrum of U.S. military operations in Africa, including increasing U.S. military involvement in the internal affairs of African countries (including both counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations) and the direct use of U.S. combat troops to intervene in African conflicts.

Therefore, according to Whitney Schneidman, the Obama administration “will create a Shared Partnership Program to build the infrastructure to deliver effective counter-terrorism training, and to create a strong foundation for coordinated action against al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Africa and elsewhere.” He explained that the proposed program “will provide assistance with information sharing, operations, border security, anti-corruption programs, technology, and the targeting of terrorist financing.” In particular, Schneidman argued “in the Niger Delta, we should become more engaged not only in maritime security, but in working with the Nigerian government, the European Union, the African Union, and other stakeholders to stabilize the region.”

This is not reassuring. But Volman includes some notes of hope and good advice:

… It is likely, therefore, that the Obama administration will continue the militarization of U.S. policy toward Africa unless it comes under pressure to change direction. However, members of the U.S. Congress are now beginning to give Africom the critical scrutiny it deserves and to express serious skepticism about its mission and operations. Moreover, a number of concerned organizations and individuals in the United States and in Africa—the Resist Africom Campaign—came together in August 2006 to educate the American people about Africom and to mobilize public and congressional opposition to the creation of the new command. And the Resist Africom Campaign will continue to press the Obama administration to abandon the Bush plan for Africom and pursue a policy toward Africa based on a genuine partnership with the people of Africa, multi-lateralism, democracy, human rights, and grass-roots development.

If you are eligible to vote in the US, let your Congressional representatives know what you think about AFRICOM, and about militarizing the continent. There is still a lot of opportunity for change. But it needs a lot of push and pressure from the roots up. It may be that one can effectively change the policy without significantly changing the language. After all, a policy of “genuine partnership with the people of Africa, multi-lateralism, democracy, human rights, and grass-roots development” would do a lot more to fight terrorism and secure US access to resources than military expansion and recolonization can begin to touch. The Bush administration has had a rather one dimensional view of the word fight. Let us hope the Obama vision really is larger and more inclusive.

Read Volman’s article: AFRICOM from Bush to Obama

As AFRICOM stands up, it might be worth looking at the short essay by Thomas Palley featured on RGE Monitor from Nouriel Roubini, The Origins of the American Corporate Predator State (also here).

Jamie Galbraith’s recent book describes modern (Bush-Cheney) Republicanism as creating a “predator state”. Its predatory aspects are starkly visible in the gangs of corporate lobbyists who roam Washington DC, the Halliburton Iraq war procurement scandal, and the corruption and incompetence that surrounded the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

However, the broad concept of a predator state needs qualification as we are really talking of an “American corporate” predator state. Thus, the predatory nature of contemporary US governance is quintessentially linked to corporations, and it is also a uniquely American phenomenon.

… [The] origins clearly trace back to the military – industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned about in his final televised address to the nation on January 17, 1961.

That complex has captured politics and corrupted the business of government, including of course the conduct of national security policy. The fact that it has wrapped itself with the flag and entwined itself with the military makes it impossible to confront without being charged as unpatriotic. Worst yet, its enormous enduring profitability has provided a model for imitation by other industrial complexes like Big Pharma and Big Oil.

Another feature … is a tendency to conflate profit with free markets. That means the distinction between fair competition (which is good) and fat profits (which are bad) is lost, thereby providing cover for predators.

The Africa Command is a creation of the Bush Cheney American corporate predator state. It was conceived by people who were focused on Africa’s oil, other natural resources, and on opposing China. These are the same Bush Cheney cronies that have done the most to convert American democracy into a corporate predator state, and destroy American democracy in the process. I have tried to document these origins since February 2007 when the command was announced. For another excellent introduction to AFRICOM, see: Understanding AFRICOM:
A Contextual Reading of Empire’s New Combatant Command Part I
, part II , part III.

Look at the AFRICOM logo. It bears an unfortunate metaphorical resemblance to female genitalia, with target Africa in the middle. In the metaphorical context of the phallic shapes of the military weaponry being shopped to Africa, it is additionally unfortunate. Intentional or not, it speaks to the underlying motives for creating the command.

In his essay Why AFRICOM has not won over Africans Samuel Makinda divides the questions about AFRICOM into three areas, paraphrased here:

  • The lack of any clear explanation or rationale for creation of the command.
  • The complete lack of transparency in creation and presentation of the command.
  • The creators of AFRICOM discount or disparage the advances Africa has made with respect to African security through the African Union as well as regional organizations.

Although there is a lot of talk from AFRICOM about partnerships, there has been little real consultation with Africans. Most of the Africans consulted have been those trained, one might say indoctrinated, in US military training programs such as IMET. Regarding the lack of transparency, Makinde says:

African analysts and policy makers point out that in Africa today there is little or no transparency in discussions of AFRICOM or of U.S. military relations with African states generally. They note that . . . it has not been freely and openly discussed by the legislatures of the African states, even in countries that have been mentioned as possible sites for AFRICOM’s headquarters.

This prompts the question: what governance ethos would AFRICOM foster in the future if its current relationships with African governments are shrouded in secrecy?

AFRICOM is a major manifestation of the militarization of US foreign policy. The Pentagon is swallowing the traditional diplomatic and foreign assistance programs of the United States. The process and budget are described in the report from Refugees International: U.S. Civil Military Imbalance for Global Engagement

And most important of all Makinda points out:

Africans know that the militarization of political and economic space by African military leaders has been one of the factors that has held Africa back for decades. While African states are trying to put the culture of military rule behind them, the United States appears determined to demonstrate that most civilian activities in Africa should be undertaken by armed forces. To some African policy makers, this suggests that the U.S. Government lacks sympathy for what Africans so deeply want today, namely democratic systems in which the armed forces remain in the barracks.

What is needed is energy, focus, and money to strengthen civilian democratic political, economic, and social institutions, so that democracy, participation of all the people, can grow and flourish.

Click here for the interactive version of this map.

The House Appropriations Committee initially made huge cuts in the stand up budget for AFRICOM. But much of that money has been restored. The original request was for $389 million. That was cut down to $80 million in committee. But it is back up to $266 million. This is only a $123 million cut instead of a $309 million cut. $266 million gives AFRICOM a lot more to work with.

The Stars and Stripes reports:

According to a summary of defense appropriations posted on the committee’s Web site, Congress members decided to provide $123 million less than the president asked for “… because of the failure to establish an AFRICOM presence on the continent and to correctly account for a funding transfer.”

… the budget request was designed to support “well over 100″ programs that the command inherited from EUCOM, the U.S. Pacific Command and various other entities that have been operating in Africa during the past several decades.Those programs include operating a joint task force in Djibouti; an effort with the State Department and Northern African nations to target regional terrorism; helping to form modern coast guards to take on pirates, trafficking and illegal fishing; training peacekeepers and educating and training militaries in several countries; and building military partnerships throughout the continent.

AFRICOM is set to become fully operational Oct. 1. The Air Force designated the 17th Air Force as its AFRICOM component earlier this month and the other services are expected to announce their contributions shortly.

There are possible positive things the US military can do in Africa, they are spelled out in the report from Refugees International  U.S. Civil Military Imbalance for Global Engagement (link fixed). The overwhelming dangers of the current militarization of of US foreign policy are spelled out in detail as well.

Frida Berrigan points out in Military Industrial Complex 2.0:

Top to bottom, the Pentagon’s war machine is no longer just driven by, but staffed by, corporations.

And as a result:

… corruption, incompetence, and callous indifference become ever more ingrained in the military way of life.

The map above, from this article, AFRI(OIL)COM, shows US military involvement, and oil corporation involvement, throughout the countries of Africa. Click here for the interactive version of this map.

Oil is the primary reason for AFRICOM, going back to the initial proposal for an Africa Command from the Heritage Foundation: US Military Assistance for Africa: A Bettter Solution.

With its vast natural and mineral resources, Africa remains strategically important to the West, as it has been for hundreds of years, and its geostrategic significance is likely to rise in the 21st century. According to the National Intelligence Council (NIC), the United States is likely to draw 25 percent of its oil from West Africa by 2015, surpassing the volume imported from the Persian Gulf.

In matters of transnational threats and economic issues like energy (specifically oil) and trade, not to mention the significant Islamic populations in Africa, there are good reasons to view Africa and the Middle East as an appropriate grouping for U.S. security interests.

They speak at length about terrorism as well, to ramp up the fear, but oil is the target. The article concludes by recommending that the US establish an Africa command. This is the new and latest scramble for Africa, now manifested in AFRICOM. This command and this policy need to be watched very carefully. There is enormous danger here. And more money in the AFRICOM budget means more danger for Africans.

Maparangwane BDF (Air Wing) Base (from Google Earth Community)
circled above in yellow, closer up below, from Google Maps
Botswana Defence Force Base, approximately 75km from the capital Gaborone. The main runway is astonishingly long for its intended use at 3360 metres. This has led to speculation over it’s true role. Some people say it may serve as a landing and refuelling post for US spyplanes or as an alterante landing location for the space shuttle in the southern hemisphere given it’s relatively close distance to the equator.

BAUMHOLDER, Germany – Jeffrey Morrison, the U.S. Army’s 21st Theater Sustainment Command director of logistics (right), explains the process of loading vehicles onto rail cars to Botswanan officers (left to right) Captain Kabo Moswenyane, Lieutenant Gaopale Swereki and Major Ompatile Modisenyane, in Baumholder, Germany, on March 5, 2008. The purpose of the visit was to help the Botswanan officers learn about rail operations and bolster relations with the U.S. military. The Botswanan officers also received briefings on the military police, the Distribution Management Center and the use of American military jargon. They also traveled to other Army and Air Force installations in the area. (U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Phillip Valentine)

It is obvious from the photo and caption above, taken from africom.mil, that Botswana enjoys a close working relationship with the US military.

Botswana’s one party democracy has long been a friend of the United States. Although Botswana has publicly questioned the creation of AFRICOM there have been ongoing rumors of agreements between the US and Botswana to host an AFRICOM base. That base may already be in place in the form of the Thebephatshwa Airport/Maparangwane BDF (Air Wing) Base. It is located about halfway between Molepolole and Letlhakeng, north and east of Gaborone. It is also referred to as Molepolole.

You can see it in this photo titled: A large US military base in the middle of Botswana. Taken enroute to WDH at FL350. Photo taken in 2003 by Julian Whitelaw. Click the link above to see the photo.

And Wikipedia has an interactive map of the base, info courtesy of b real, who adds:

where i found out about it was on an AFRICOM thread at the usmc’s small wars council forum & military guys there say it was indeed built by the u.s. before apartheid ended in south africa.

From discussion at Google Earth Community, bbs.keyhole.com:

The base is called Maparangwane (that might be hard for you to get your tounge around). I have been there numerous times. It was probably (these things are usually kept secret) developed with the technical support of the USAF, but in all probability was funded entirely by Botswana’s Government. We aren’t exactly a poor country. If you use the ruler and go 71.37 Kilometres West south west (thats in between west and southwest) fom this airbase you will see the country’s largest diamond mine at Jwaneng (marked by bright blue pools of some sort) – we have three. We are the 2nd largest producer of gem quality stones after Russia.

Anyways I sa with some probablity because it is possible that the ISAF have a sharing agreement with the government and might have footed some of the bill, but the country could easily afford to design and build such a thing.

. . .
The Eagle project. French influence, not US. Fighter, transport and chopper squadrons on base as well as a training squadron with PC-7 aircraft. The fighters are former canadian CF-5 A and B Freedom Fighters, which were sold to the BDF Air Arm after having been refurbished for the original 419 Squadron of the Canadian Armed Forces at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta Canada. After 419 was shut down in the mid 90s, they were sold and delivered via AN-124 air transport to the base were they were formed into 28 Squadron BDF AA. Transports are former USAF C-130 B versions, also refurbished. Choppers are 412s. Occasionally you might see a Global Express on the field. Botswana has spend considerable funds in the last 10 years on hardware from the Netherlands, Spain, France, Germany, UK, USA and Canada as well as from SA. Chinese technology and Indian expertise is present throughout the country. For such a small country they have accumulated an impressive arsenal. Although Thebe Phatswa (which is the actual base name) is the main air force base, the HQ is actually located just outside Gaborone and mostly Army. FOLs include Francistown and Maun. The foreign military in Botswana include mostly spec ops training elements from the UK US and a variety of african nations, not always with the knowledge of the BDF. Expats still run a large portion of tech intensive hardware and conduct training on various bases and in the field.
. . .

AFB Molepolole (USAF and BDF) 04/26/06 11:54 AM (google earth community)
The Botswana Defence Force Air Wing is the air force of Botswana.The Air Wing was formed in 1977 and is organisationally part of the Botswana Defence Force.All squadrons are designated with a Z, which has no meaning but is used as a designation for ‘squadron’. The main base is Molepolole and was built mostly by foreign contractors from 1992 being finished around 1996.
this is the main Air base for Botswana’a Air Force. well actually that’s pretentious. The Botswana Defence Force (the Army) has an Air wing, similar to what the UK had before wwII – as there isn’t much need for a peaceful country to have a full air force.


From General Mompati S. Merafhe, the Botswana minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, in October 2003, General Merafhe vigorously denies that it is an American airbase:

Regarding the alleged American airbase, let me state for the record that the United States does not own any military base in Botswana. The airbase that is being referred to is the Thebephatshwa Airbase that is wholly owned by the government of Botswana.

The airbase was constructed during my term as commander of the Botswana Defence Force with our own resources and without any assistance from the United States or any other country for that matter.

In fact, during construction, the Americans publicly accused Botswana of excessive military spending and threatened to cut economic aid to Botswana. So, if the Americans built the airbase, how could they then accuse us of excessive military spending on the airbase?

We have done our best to demonstrate that these allegations are false. Among other things, we have used every opportunity to conduct tours of the airbase for military dignitaries visiting Botswana, including military chiefs from the region. The purpose is to demonstrate to the region and indeed the international community that there is nothing sinister or clandestine about the airbase?

I have decided to raise this matter here because my government is seriously concerned about the damage this campaign of disinformation is doing to the image of Botswana in the region and internationally. Fortunately, we take solace in the fact that mud never sticks on a clean surface, it cakes and falls away.

From Scramble in the Netherlands comes this information about the Air Wing of the Botswana Defense Force.

The Botswana Defence Force Air Wing was formed in 1977 as a result of rising tension in the area. All squadrons are designated with a .Z., which has no meaning but is just used as a designation for .squadron.. Main base is Molepolole which was built mostly by foreign contractors from 1992 and was finished round 1996. Other bases used are the International Airport at Gaborone and Francistown.

The backbone of the Air Wing is formed by ex Canadian CF-116s which are locally designated as CF-5. Thirteen ex-Canadian CF-116s (ten single-seaters and three trainers) were ordered in 1996 to replace the Strikemasters, with another three single-seaters and two double-seaters delivered in 2000. For transport the Air Wing uses BN-2A/B, C212, CN235 and C-130Bs. Latest addition to the transport-fleet was an ex-AMARC C-130B to complement the two existing aircraft.

In 2000, three additional AS350BA helicopters were bought for Z21, bringing the total to eight.. The single Italian built AB412 has been replaced by an Bell 412EP in VIP-configuration. Z21 has a total of six Bell 412s of which the Bell412EP is being used by the VIP-Flight. Flying training is done on seven PC-7s. The VIP flight uses besides the Bell412 a Gulfstream and a Be200. In 1993 nine ex US Army/AMARC O-2As were delivered for use in the battle against poaching.

So what is actually going on between the US and Botwana. Your guess is as good as mine. But keep in mind these words from General Ward’s Q&A for his confirmation hearing, PDF: U.S. Africa Command Will Enhance Local Skills, Problem Solving, again, courtesy of b real:

on basing criteria
- – -
Some of the criteria includes: political stability; security factors; access to regional and intercontinental transportation; availability of acceptable infrastructure; quality of life; proximity to the African Union and regional organizations; proximity to USG hubs; adequate Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The transition team has used these criteria to narrow down potential sites. Those potential sites have been briefed to the Dept of State informally and we have begun dialogue on the advantages and disadvantages of those sites.

Botswana meets these criteria. There was also a recent article in Air Force Times about two Air Force generals named to top spots in AFRICOM, which would fit in with air bases.

Brought up from the comments, courtesy of b real, and added April 9:

THE BOTSWANA DEFENCE FORCE: Evolution of a professional African military

. . . No discussion of politics or military affairs in Botswana can avoid a discussion of Seretse Khama Ian Khama. He is the most eminent member of what might be called the ‘first family’ of Botswana. His father, Sir Seretse Khama, was a national hero, prominent in the struggle for full national independence, and founder of the party that has governed the country since independence, serving as the country’s president from its founding in 1966 until his death in office in 1980. When the Defence Force was created in 1977, Ian Khama was appointed its deputy commander with the rank of brigadier. Twelve years later, in 1989, he acceded to the command of the BDF with the rank of lieutenant general, a post he subsequently held for nine years. Khama’s service spanned the formative period of the Defence Force’s evolution, and despite his retirement in 1998 to enter politics, he continues to have a close connection with Botswana’s military. Khama’s current positions of vice-president and party chair of the ruling party are widely believed in Botswana to guarantee his accession to the presidency when the incumbent, Festus Mogae, steps down. However, Khama’s activities over the course of his military and political career have provoked controversy and he is accused of having very authoritarian tendencies. Many among Botswana’s educated elite view a future Khama presidency with some trepidation. . . .

From the US Dept. of State:

The United States has been the largest single contributor to the development of the BDF, and a large segment of its officer corps has received U.S. training.

. . . The United States considers Botswana an advocate of and a model for stability in Africa and has been a major partner in Botswana’s development since its independence.

Botswana, military ties the main issue, not tribe includes the mention that “One knowledgeable [military] source estimated in 2004 that 75 per cent of BDF officers above the rank of major are graduates of US military schools.”

the wikipedia entry on BDF says that “by 1999 approximately 85% of the BDF officers are said to have been trained under this system [IMET].”

It sounds very much as though Botswana is evolving away from democracy, and into a military government. And I am sure the US Department of Defense and AFRICOM are most happy and comfortable with Botswana’s movement into militarism. This provides the US with a happy and willing “partner”, well placed to act as a US surrogate on the African continent. And it puts the US Department of Defense and the Botswana government in the same business, speaking the same language. The less democracy, the more it becomes a military government, the more a few “boys in the back room” can make decisions without any pesky interference from legislatures, or the public at large. This further weakens what democracy is left. So the US can help “partner” away democratic institutions in Botswana.

This is a perfect illustration of why a military command cannot help foster democratic institutions, and economic development. The structure of a military command is a strict heirarchy organized to achieve military ends that require heirarchy and line of authority. In order to have political and economic development, a country must draw from a far wider pool for input, ideas, and investment, and defer to voices across a range of roles and ranks. It would certainly be nice if the US was investing as much money training people for other forms of public service, for all the skills that go into governing and delivering public services, water, sewars, electicity, roads, schools, clinics, hospitals, from local towns and municipalities to national governments, rather than building “defense” forces. The photo op “humanitarian” projects help, but they are no substitute for serious investment in developing civilian governing skills and institutions. Unfortunately, the current US governement does not believe in investing in these at home, and does not appear to believe in the actual practice of democracy.

What will happen if and when the citizens of Botswana become unhappy with losing their democracy to a military government? What role will the US play in that case?

Pictures from the USS Fort McHenry, the African Partnership Station,
you will find discussion of AFRICOM, bases, and US military programs in Ghana and Africa below the photos.

TEMA, Ghana (Nov. 20, 2007) Rear Adm. Tony Kurta, director for Policy, Resources and Strategy, United States Naval Forces Europe, and Ghanaian navy Commodore Matthew Quashie, Eastern Ghana Naval Command, meet with Africa Partnership Station (APS) staff at the Tema Naval Base. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class RJ Stratchko, 071120-N-8933S-015 Released)

TAKORADI, Ghana (Feb. 8, 2008) Staff Sgt. Franklin Davis, of East Brunswick, N.J., a Marine assigned to Africa Partnership Station (APS) begins the first day of martial-arts instruction for the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Ghanaian Army. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian A. Goyak, 080208-N-0577G-140 Released)
SEKONDI, Ghana (Feb. 13, 2008) Africa Partnership Station (APS) Sailors load Project Handclasp medical supplies onto a supply truck for donation to the Ghanaian Navy Western Command hospital. Teams from various U.S. and European military commands, as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations, are embarked aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry and the high-speed vessel (HSV) 2 Swift for a seven-month deployment to enhance cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services in West and Central Africa and the Gulf of Guinea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian A. Goyak, 080213-N-0577G-010 Released)
TAKORADI, Ghana, (Nov. 28, 2007) Lt. j.g. Erica Goodwin visits the children going to school next door to Essikado Hospital in Takoradi, Ghana. Members of Africa Partnership Station (APS) visited the school while working at the hospital to assess the possibility of working on the school during a future community relations project. The APS volunteers spent three days at the hospital building shelves, benches, laying concrete, painting and fixing the ambulance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elizabeth Merriam, 071128-N-0193M-401 Released)

APOWA, Ghana (Feb. 8, 2008) Utilitiesman 2nd Class Jeffery Ladd and Utilitiesman 2nd Class Paul J. Kuntz help a child drill a hole in part of a wall for a classroom at the Orphans Cry International Orphanage. Seabees and other volunteers worked on several projects at the orphanage in one of many Africa Partnership Station humanitarian projects in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eddie Harrison, 080208-N-4044H-113 Released)
SEKONDII, Ghana (Feb. 12, 2008) Damage Controlman 1st Class Adam Burg explains to Ghananian sailors the proper way to walk with the nozzle of a hose during a damage control exercise provided by Africa Partnership Station aboard a Ghananian Navy vessel. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eddie Harrison, 080212-N-4044H-086 Released)

You can find these pictures and more at the


Photo Gallery – African Partnership Station

For the present, the headquarters of AFRICOM will remain in Stuttgart Germany. It is a triumph that African countries have held the line, and successfully opposed an AFRICOM headquarters on the continent. However, AFRICOM is just as dangerous without an actual headquarters in Africa. With Bush visiting Ghana this week, it is worth looking at exactly what Bush, AFRICOM, and US intentions are in Ghana and West Africa.

Oil is the main source of US interest. The US already gets more oil from Africa than from Saudi Arabia, and wants even more. The quality and quantity of African oil, and the ease of working on offshore deep water rigs, away from the population, make African oil particularly desirable.

Ghanaians should make no mistake. There is already a US military presence in Ghana. It occupies what the US military sometimes calls “lily pads” or “cooperative security locations”. You probably know where some of these are. And this presence will grow. It is already growing through interactions with the African Partnership Station, the APS, the USS Fort McHenry that has been visiting Ghana and sailing along the Gulf of Guinea in 2007 and 2008.

The way it works:

“A cooperative security location can be a tucked-away corner of a host country’s civilian airport, or a dirt runway somewhere with fuel and mechanical help nearby, or a military airport in a friendly country with which we have no formal basing agreement but, rather, an informal arrangement with private contractors acting as go-betweens … The United States provides aid to upgrade maintenance facilities, thereby helping the host country to better project its own air and naval power in the region. At the same time, we hold periodic exercises with the host country’s military, in which the base is a focus. We also offer humanitarian help to the surrounding area. Such civil-affairs projects garner positive publicity for our military in the local media… The result is a positive diplomatic context for getting the host country’s approval for use of the base when and if we need it.”

We have already been seeing this in action with the activities of the APS, the USS Fort McHenry. The reason USAID and diplomatic functions are subsumed under the Pentagon with AFRICOM is that:

Economic aid, development projects, or other forms of indirect compensation . . . may also be given with military considerations in mind. For example . . . constructing dozens of roads, piers, wharfs, bridges, and other infrastructure projects in the very areas where US troops have been deployed. . . . many of these infrastructure projects support US military mobility; at the same time, they have also proven very useful in gaining local public acceptance for US military presence. For the Special Forces, especially, the infrastructure and humanitarian projects are seen as instrumental in “winning hearts and minds” in the aim of getting what they call “actionable” intelligence.

We have seen cooperative military activities in Ghana, and we can see them in Djibouti, where -

CJTF-HOA (Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa) is positioned to serve as a model for AFRICOM

In Djibouti there is a great deal of humanitarian assistance, joint training, and other friendly and cooperative efforts going on. There is also a Special Forces team. From Djibouti the US assisted the Ethiopian government to invade Somalia in January 2007, and overthrow the only functioning government that Somalia had in 15 years, replacing it with the hated warlords, and creating a humanitarian crisis that dwarfs Darfur. Supposedly the US was fighting “terrorism”. However, whoever is out of favor with the US is likely to be labeled a terrorist. This is not something new, historically:

The collapse of the Portuguese colonial forces in Mozambique, Angola, Guinea and Sao Tome and the collapse of the white racist military forces in Rhodesia gradually led to a rethinking by the US military. During this period the US had labeled all African freedom fighters as terrorists. When the US was allied with Osama Bin Laden and Jonas Savimbi, Nelson Mandela had been branded a terrorist.

In fact -

there are scholars who have argued and presented evidence that the government of the United States has been “fabricating terrorism” in Africa.

The Bush administration plans to employ mercenaries to do much of the business of AFRICOM, follow the link for more details. The “private contractors” mentioned above mean mercenaries. And the “partnerships” AFRICOM is promoting are intended to coopt African militaries so that they will do the dirty work in any fighting the US wants conducted in Africa.

That said, the US military provides the best military training you can find anywhere in the world. It is worthwhile to take the opportunity to learn from it. Most of the US soldiers and sailors are good people with excellent intentions. This does not necessarily apply to the contractors. At the same time it is important to keep in mind, that when you train with them, they will be learning a lot of information about you, your country, and your military organization. The intentions of Bush and his cronies, who give the orders, are not benign, and they intend to use the military to impose their goals by force where they see the “need”, and impose a 21st century version of colonization. You can read here for the documentary trail of their plans and intentions.

. . . the Bush Family and their allies and cronies represent the confluence of three long-established power factions in the American elite: oil, arms and investments. These groups equate their own interests, their own wealth and privilege, with the interests of the nation – indeed, the world – as a whole. And they pursue these interests with every weapon at their command, including war, torture, deceit and corruption. Democracy means nothing to them – not even in their own country.

And this is the danger in dealing with them. They are a powerful force for corruption and exploitation, even as they preach democracy and “free” markets.

Below is a list of US military programs in Africa that will come under AFRICOM, and countries where they are active. You may have already encountered some of these in action. I know ACOTA has already been active in Ghana. For more detail about these see Africom: The new US military command for Africa.

    • Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative/Partnership (formerly Pan Sahel Initiative) (TSCTI) Targeting threats to US oil/natural gas operations in the Sahara region Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Tunisia, Nigeria, and Libya.
    • TSTCI Africa Contingency Operations Training and Asssistance Program (ACOTA) (formerly African Crisis Response Initiative) (ACRI)) Part of “Global Peace” Operations Initiative (GPOI). Areas of Operation: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia.
    • International Military Training and Education (IMET) program brings African military officers to US military academies and schools for indoctrination.
      Top countries: Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa.
    • Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) (formerly Africa Center for Security Studies) Part of National Defense University, Washington.
      Provides indoctrination for “next generation” African military officers. This is the “School of the Americas” for Africa.
      All of Africa is covered under the Foreign Military Sales Program which sells US military equipment to African nations via Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
      Top recipients: Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Zimbabwe.
    • African Coastal and Border Security Program Provides fast patrol boats, vehicles, electronic surveillance equipment, night vision equipment to littoral states.
    • Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) Military command based at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. Aimed at putting down rebellions in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Somaliland and targets Eritrea. Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti.
    • Joint Task Force Aztec Silence (JTFAS) Targets terrorism in West and North Africa. Joint effort of EUCOM and Commander Sixth Fleet (Mediterranean) Based in Sigonella, Sicily and Tamanrasset air base in southern Algeria Gulf of Guinea Initiative.
    • US Navy Maritime Partnership Program Trains African militaries in port and off-shore oil platform security Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principe, Togo.
    • Tripartite Plus Intelligence Fusion Cell Based in Kisangani, DRC to oversee “regional security,” I.E. ensuring U.S. and Israeli access to Congo’s gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, and col-tan. Congo-Kinshasa, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda.
    • United States Base access for Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) and Forward Operating Locations (FOLs) U.S. access to airbases and other facilities Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia, Namibia, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia, Algeria.
    • Africa Regional Peacekeeping (ARP) Liaison with African “peacekeeping” military commands East Africa Regional Integration Team: Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania.
    • North Africa Regional Integration Team: Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya.
    • Central Africa Regional Integration Team: Congo (Kinshasa), Congo (Brazzaville), Chad.
    • South Africa Regional Integration Team: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola.
    • West Africa Regional Integration Team: Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Western Sahara.
    • Africa Partnership Station (APS) Port visits by USS Fort McHenry and High Speed Vessel (HSV) Swift. Part of US Navy’s Global Fleet Station Initiative. Training and liaison with local military personnel to ensure oil production security Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Sao Tome & Principe.

(To all the readers of this post, I copied this list from here. The guy who posted is strikes me as a nutter, and names himself after a cartoon character, but his factual information appears to be good. It is available publicly in part or in full in a number of places. This covers some of it.)

UPDATE – DECEMBER 2008:

Daniel Volman has written an updated overview of AFRICOM published at Pambazuka News, AFRICOM from Bush to Obama.  Volman lists the various programs that are part of AFRICOM, or are being folded into AFRICOM. There are a number of bilateral and multilateral joint training programs and military exercises (excerpted from his article):

FLINTLOCK 2005 AND 2007 – Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) exercises … Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

TRANS-SAHARAN COUNTER-TERRORISM PARTNERSHIP (TSCTP) – links the United States with eight African countries: Mali, Chad, Niger, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria.

EAST AFRICA COUNTER-TERRORISM INITIATIVE (EACTI) – the EACTI has provided training to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.

AFRICA CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS TRAINING AND ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (ACOTA) – training to African military forces. … By FY 2007, nineteen African countries were participating in the ACOTA program (Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia).

INTERNATIONAL MILITARY EDUCATION AND TRAINING PROGRAM (IMET) – brings African military officers to military academies and other military educational institutions in the United States for professional training. Nearly all African countries participate in the program.

U.S. PRIVATE MILITARY CONTRACTORS IN AFRICA – [mostly] as part of the GPOI and ACOTA programs.

FOREIGN MILITARY SALES PROGRAM (FMS) – This program sells U.S. military equipment to African countries … The U.S. government provides loans to finance the purchase of virtually all of this equipment through the Foreign Military Financing Program (FMF), but repayment of these loans by African governments is almost always waived, so that they amount to free grants.

DIRECT COMMERCIAL SALES PROGRAM (DCS) – the Office of Defense Trade Controls of the Department of State licenses the sale of police equipment (including pistols, revolvers, shotguns, rifles, and crowd control chemicals) by private U.S. companies to foreign military forces, paramilitary units, police, and other government agencies.

AFRICAN COASTAL AND BORDER SECURITY PROGRAM (ACBS) – provides specialized equipment (such as patrol vessels and vehicles, communications equipment, night vision devices, and electronic monitors and sensors) to African countries to improve their ability to patrol and defend their own coastal waters and borders from terrorist operations, smuggling, and other illicit activities … No dedicated funding was requested for FY 2008

EXCESS DEFENSE ARTICLES PROGRAM (EDA) – ad hoc transfers of surplus U.S. military equipment to foreign governments. Transfers to African recipients have included the transfer of C-130 transport planes to South Africa and Botswana, trucks to Uganda, M-16 rifles to Senegal, and coastal patrol vessels to Nigeria.

ANTI-TERRORISM ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (ATA) – provide training, equipment, and technology to countries all around the world to support their participation in America’s Global War on Terrorism. … [includes] Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, Niger, Chad, Senegal, Mali, Liberia, Ethiopia, Botswana, Djibouti, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia, Angola, Mozambique.

SECTION 1206, 1207, AND 902 PROGRAMS – Section 1206 program—known as the Global Equip and Train program—was initiated in FY 2007 and permits the Pentagon—on its own initiative and with little congressional oversight—to provide training and equipment to foreign military, police, and other security forces to “combat terrorism and enhance stability.” …
The Section 1207 program—known as the Security and Stabilization Assistance program—was also started in FY 2007. It allows the Defense Department to transfer equipment, training, and other assistance to the State Department to enhance its operations. …
The Section 902 program—known as the Combatant Commanders’ Initiative Fund— can be used by the commanders of Africom and other combatant commands to fund their own relief and reconstruction projects, rather than relying on the State Department or the Agency for International Development to undertake these efforts.

COMBINED JOINT TASK FORCE-HORN OF AFRICA (CJTF-HOA) – designed to conduct naval and aerial patrols in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the eastern Indian Ocean as part of the effort to detect and counter the activities of terrorist groups in the region.
… provided intelligence to Ethiopia in support of its invasion of Somalia in January 2007 and used military facilities in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya to launch air raids and missile strikes in January and June of 2007 and May of 2008 against alleged al-Qaeda members involved in the Council of Islamic Courts in Somalia.

JOINT TASK FORCE AZTEC SILENCE (JTFAS) – carry out counter-terrorism operations in North and West Africa and to coordinate U.S. operations with those of countries in those regions.
… constitutes a major extension of the U.S. role in counter-insurgency warfare and highlights the dangers of America’s deepening involvement in the internal conflicts that persist in so many African countries

NAVAL OPERATIONS IN THE GULF OF GUINEA – Africom will also help coordinate naval operations along the African coastline.
… The U.S. Navy has been steadily increasing the level and pace of its operations in African waters in recent years …
… the United States—conducted what were described as “presence operations” in the Gulf of Guinea …

BASE ACCESS AGREEMENTS FOR COOPERATIVE SECURITY LOCATIONS AND FORWARD OPERATING SITES – Over the past few years, the Bush administration has negotiated base access agreements with the governments of Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierre Leone, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia. Under these agreements, the United States gains access to local military bases and other facilities so that they can be used by American forces as transit bases or as forward operating bases for combat, surveillance, and other military operations. They remain the property of the host African government and are not American bases in a legal sense, so that U.S. government officials are telling the truth—at least technically—when they deny that the United States has bases in these countries.

Go and read the article, AFRICOM from Bush to Obama. There is a great deal more information there than I have included here, including the amounts of money involved in many of these programs.


TAKORADI, Ghana, (Nov. 28, 2007) Lt. j.g. Erica Goodwin visits the children going to school next door to Essikado Hospital in Takoradi, Ghana. Members of Africa Partnership Station (APS) visited the school while working at the hospital to assess the possibility of working on the school during a future community relations project. The APS volunteers spent three days at the hospital building shelves, benches, laying concrete, painting and fixing the ambulance. APS is scheduled to bring international training teams to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe, and will support more than 20 humanitarian assistance projects in addition to hosting information exchanges and training with partner nations during its seven-month deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elizabeth Merriam, 071128-N-0193M-401 Released) A cheerful picture, regardless of doubts about the APS.

We can learn a lot about AFRICOM by observing US military activity in the Philippines, particularly if we understand the thinking behind it. Much of the military planning of the Bush administration has been done by participants in PNAC, Project for the New American Century. PNAC has been around since the early 90s and includes Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and just about all the other neocon “thinkers” who wanted to invade Iraq since the early 90s, caused the invasion in 2003, and got it so wrong. They are the same ones who have been threatening Iran on the basis of information they know to be false. They used 9/11 to implement plans they had been discussing for years, taking advantage of the attack to push an increasingly aggressive militarism on the US and the world.

The self-avowed aim of the US is to perpetuate its position of being the world’s sole superpower in order to re-order the world. Its strategy to perpetuate its status is to prevent the rise of any rivals. To do this, it is seeking the capacity to deter and defeat potential enemies anywhere in the world by retaining and realigning its “global posture” or its ability to operate across the globe through its worldwide network of forward-deployed troops, bases, and access agreements. Today, the US believes that, of all its potential rivals, China poses the greatest threat and must therefore be contained before it becomes even more powerful. [1]

As well as calling for “regime change” in Iraq, some PNAC neocons have called for “regime change” in China and describe: “the defining military conflicts of the twenty-first century: if not a big war with China, then a series of Cold War-style standoffs that stretch out over years and decades.”

Although at present: “China lacks the military capacity to compete with the United States; neither does it appear to be seeking to.”[1] I am sure the neocons imagine many of their “Cold War-style standoffs” taking place in Africa, over African resources, especially oil.

In the guise of fighting terrorism, but in fact to “contain” China, US is unofficially reclaiming the Philippines as a military base of operations. The Philippines is generally friendly to the US, and strategically placed near China. The methods used in the Philippines look a lot like what the USS Fort McHenry is doing as the African Partnership Station along the Gulf of Guinea, or like what is happening in Djibouti.

Two articles detail how the US is reclaiming the Philippines as a military base, and also reveal a great deal about what all the AFRICOM talk about partnerships, aid, and development mean. The first of these:
At the door of all the east: the Philippines in United States Military Strategy by Herbert Docena, ISBN 978-971-92886-8-8 [1]
is extensively and meticulously documented, and in more abbreviated form:
How the US got its Philippine bases back by Herbert Docena in Asia Times [2]

The US closed its bases in the Philippines in 1991-2, but since 2001, a constant and increasing stream of US military personnel has been rotating in and out. No individuals, or individual units are there for long, but new units are constantly arriving.

For those who have been reading about AFRICOM, this should sound familiar:

Recognizing constraints posed by political realities (a population hostile to American military bases), the US has since been seeking access in ways that would be able to overcome domestic opposition by taking gradual and tentative but incremental steps, publicly justifying them in ways that are more acceptable to the public – i.e. as part of the “war on terror”, to help modernize . . . etc.
. . .
. . . few are the days or weeks when there would be no US troops somewhere in the country giving lectures to . . . troops, participating in large-scale maneuvers, joining command exercises, simulating war games, or taking part in other related activities. . . .

Largely presented as efforts to modernize the . . . armed forces, the objectives behind the exercises are manifold and overlapping. First, the exercises allow the US military to be more familiar with the capabilities, organization, doctrines, and other characteristics of military forces . . . which they may have to fight against or fight alongside with in the future. . . . “[G]iven that these . . . militaries may well be U.S. partners or adversaries in future contingencies, becoming familiar with their capabilities and operating style and learning to operate with them are important.”
. . .
“Maintaining an active program of military-to-military contacts . . . (so that) when the need arises, US military forces can find adequate access to perform their missions both quickly and safely.”
. . .
Implicit in the relationship – as has been the case in previous US-led wars – is that the US will retain over-all command of any coalition in war. Hence, the goal behind the efforts to build ties with, train, strengthen, and develop the capabilities of local militaries is actually to de facto subsume and subordinate them under the US military organization.

. . .
Access over time can develop into habitual use of certain facilities by deployed US forces with the eventual goal of being guaranteed use in a crisis, or permission to pre-position logistics stocks and other critical material in strategic forward locations.”

As US troops come and go in rotation for frequent, regular exercises, their presence – when taken together – makes up a formidable forward-presence that brings them closer to areas of possible action without need for huge infrastructure to support them and without inciting a lot of public attention and opposition.

. . .

“A cooperative security location can be a tucked-away corner of a host country’s civilian airport, or a dirt runway somewhere with fuel and mechanical help nearby, or a military airport in a friendly country with which we have no formal basing agreement but, rather, an informal arrangement with private contractors acting as go-betweens … The United States provides aid to upgrade maintenance facilities, thereby helping the host country to better project its own air and naval power in the region. At the same time, we hold periodic exercises with the host country’s military, in which the base is a focus. We also offer humanitarian help to the surrounding area. Such civil-affairs projects garner positive publicity for our military in the local media… The result is a positive diplomatic context for getting the host country’s approval for use of the base when and if we need it.”
[1]

This is what has been going on in the Philippines, and this is what the AFRICOM training, partnerships, aid and development are all about. It brings the words of Nigeria’s General Victor Malu into sharper focus (though this was some years earlier):

To make matters worse, even when we have reluctantly accepted because of the pressure from our Commander-in-Chief, to allow the Americans to train us, the Americans insisted they must live in the barracks with the soldiers. I left Abuja and flew to Sokoto to go and meet the governor, to plead with him to give us an area outside the barracks we would prepare it for the Americans. The governor accepted to do that. But the Americans turned it down insisting that they must live in the barracks with soldiers. I asked General Danjuma who was my GOC as far back as 1970, I said sir, you are my GOC in 1970, would you have allowed any army of any other country to come and stay with your own troops in the barracks? Well, at a point I didn’t know whether he understood me or not, but this was the type of argument that was going on.

The other thing that is happening in the Philippines is that US is making special forces a more permanent presence, although one of which both the US and the Philippine public are not really aware.

Since 2002, a unit now called the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) has been deployed to . . . the southern Philippines. (T)his unit has continuously maintained its presence in the country for the past six years.

. . .
US troops belonging to the unit have characterized their mission as “unconventional warfare”, “foreign internal defense” and “counter-insurgency”.
. . .
As Colonel Jim Linder, former head of JSOTF-P, has stated, “We’re very much in a war out here … We’ll spill American blood on Jolo. It’s only by luck, skill and the grace of God we haven’t yet.”
. . .
In terms of profile and mission, the JSOTF-P is similar to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-Horn of Africa), which was established in Djibouti in eastern Africa in 2003 and also composed mostly of Special Forces. Like the JSOTF-P, the CJTF-Horn of Africa has also been conducting “humanitarian” missions and aid projects. Similar to the Philippines, Djibouti has also seen a dramatic increase in the amount of military aid it receives from the US. As a sample of the US’s new austere basing template, the CJTF-Horn of Africa has been described as the “model for future US military operations“.
[2]

And the infrastructure and humanitarian projects all have military significance. All of this is relevant to AFRICOM:

But it is not just military assistance per se that has military dimensions. Economic aid, development projects, or other forms of indirect compensation . . . may also be given with military considerations in mind. For example, for the past few years USAID has been constructing dozens of roads, piers, wharfs, bridges, and other infrastructure projects in the very areas where US troops have been deployed. As of 2006, USAID had finished 558 small infrastructure projects and 20 larger ones in Mindanao. As previously mentioned, many of these infrastructure projects support US military mobility; at the same time, they have also proven very useful in gaining local public acceptance for US military presence. For the Special Forces, especially, the infrastructure and humanitarian projects are seen as instrumental in “winning hearts and minds” in the aim of getting what they call “actionable” intelligence. As Army Captain Steve Battle of the JSOTF-P admitted, “I have a military objective behind my projects.” Former JSOTF-P commander Col. Jim Linder said, “To do my job right, I am embedded inside USAID.”
[1]

It is important for us all to be aware of what is really going on. There is much more in both these articles worth considering, with implications for all of Africa.

DAKAR, Senegal (Nov. 8, 2007) – Electrician’s Mate 1st Class James Lamberson congratulates Senegalese Sailors, aboard the Amphibious Dock Landing Ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), after their completion of training from Expeditionary Training Command and Africa Partnership Station (APS). APS aims to bring international training teams to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe, and will support more than 20 humanitarian assistance projects in addition to hosting information exchanges and training with partner nations during its seven-month deployment. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class RJ Stratchko ( 071108-N-8933S-060 RELEASED)
DAKAR, Senegal (Nov. 7, 2007) – Senegalese sailors receive hands-on training from Electrician’s Mate 1st Class James Lamberson while Lt. Cmdr Fru Fon Clement, a Cameroon naval officer embarked with the Africa Partnership Station (APS) international staff, translates during basic approach drills. APS aims to bring international training teams to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe, and will support more than 20 humanitarian assistance projects in addition to hosting information exchanges and training with partner nations aboard amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class R.J. Stratchko (071107-N-8933S-125 RELEASED)

Both pictures are from the US Navy story on training the Senegalese Navy. From the story:

“In three days you learn a lot, but it isn’t very much time. The next time I hope to train for one week, two weeks, or a month. It’s good for my Army,” said Senegalese Marine Staff Sergeant, Fode Camara.

The Senegalese Sailors and Marines learned about preventative maintenance, combat lifesaving, self defense and small boat maintenance and handling.

“I’m very happy to train with United States Navy. I am very happy to do it, and I want to do more,” said Camara. “Everything we learn is new. Now, when I return to my Army, I want to teach a young boy these new techniques.”

For more news from USS Fort McHenry, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lsd43/.

Juliana Taiwo, who has done some excellent reporting on AFRICOM for ThisDay in Nigeria, reports that:

Chief of Defence Staff, General Andrew Azazi, has said despite Liberian government’s clamour to host AFRICOM, ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff (CDS) would have the final say.

The President and Vice President of Liberia both reiterated their support of AFRICOM.

Azazi said though Liberia is a sovereign country, AFRICOM was a bit more technical to be treated as politics.

“The President addressed it when she met with us and the Vice President said ECOWAS should support Liberia, but what we feel is that nobody at the political level in African Union or ECOWAS knows enough about AFRICOM to make categorical statements. We are advocating that is not an issue for Chiefs of Defence Staff solely, we are advocating that at the political level, there should be either bilateral or multilateral interactions to create awareness to convince African leaders that AFRICOM will be good for Africa. What it means is that Africa must be willing to accept AFRICOM before it is sited. So if Liberia already is thinking of hosting AFRICOM, maybe they have a better understanding than the rest of them, but like the President told us, there are two things, we (the ECOWAS CDS) are going to discuss AFRICOM if our advise is that it is not good for the continent it will be rejected and if it is good, it will be accepted. Otherwise, the general understanding is that AFRICOM is suppose to be good for capacity building, but what we are saying is that we should have a better understanding of all that is going to come about, let’s create awareness, let’s be a partnership that will help both sides,” he said.

Defence sources in Nigeria had in September, disclosed that the Nigerian government was already making serious diplomatic inquiries into the US government’s establishment of a military base for Africa in Stuttgart.

This sounds like the ECOWAS Chiefs of Defense Staff are trying to act together and in accord, and that they are not interested in letting one country break ranks. As I understand this, if West Africa were to host AFRICOM, there has to be more information forthcoming from the US, and agreement between West African governments that it works to their advantage. I wonder if this solidarity will hold. And I wonder how this advantage, or lack of it, will be measured. I wish the CDS success in this endeavor. I don’t see how the US can provide information that will genuinely answer the CDS questions. The US has been telling Africans that AFRICOM is not all the things the US media tells the US public that it is.

ECOWAS HQ

An article in the US Defense News quotes the Chief of Air Staff of the Ghana Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Julius Otchere Boateng:

But a military official from Ghana, an African nation that had serious doubts about AFRICOM, now says American officials have done enough to resolve his concerns.

“I have had the chance to hear [U.S. officials] explain what is the reasoning behind the command, and it’s all about partnership,” Ghana Air Vice Marshal Julius Boateng said.

The biggest problem, Boateng said, is that his countrymen have not been well enough informed by Washington and government officials in Ghana about the specifics of U.S. plans for AFRICOM.

I think Air Vice Marshal Boateng is quite correct that his countrymen have not been well enough informed about the specifics of AFRICOM. IF he is being quoted correctly, Air Vice Marshal Boateng is still not sufficiently well informed himself. He may have heard sweet words from US officials that soothed his fears, he has not looked at the history, or the larger picture. If he actually believes the talk of partnership, he is easily fooled.

When AFRICOM is covered by the US news media, which is rare, the explanation for it is always oil, terrorism, and China. When US officials speak about AFRICOM to African leaders they say it is not about any of these, it is about aid, stability, and partnerships.

There has been no public explanation for AFRICOM that makes sense. Calling it an aid organization is laughable. There are already aid organizations, including USAID, that work quite well if they are funded. Nobody needs AFRICOM for diplomacy. Diplomacy has long established institutions in place.

The Bush administration think the only persuasion they need is the right marketing approach. They don’t seem to be aware that people can see the truth of what is going on if they are willing to look. The concept of truth may be a bit alien to the Bush administration. At the AEI forum on September 20, Bushco seemed to think their marketing of AFRICOM had been flawed, and that was the reason African nations are hostile to the command. It did not seem to occur to them that several decades of pouring arms into Africa, and not much else, makes people skeptical about your good intentions. During the Bush administration humanitarian aid has decreased, and the tide of arms has increased exponentially, especially to countries with oil.

While the U.S. ranks number one in global weapons exports, it falls dead last among industrialized nations in providing non-military foreign aid to the developing world.

More arms do not mean more stability.

At the same time the US has been pouring arms into Africa, US and European, and now Chinese, trade policies have undercut African farmers and businesses, dumping heavily subsidized agricultural and other products on Africa, while maintaining tariffs and trade policies that kill any possibility of African competition. The west piously preaches to Africa about “free” trade, and how Africa (but only Africa) must have “open markets”.

In addition to US arms, Europe and China have also poured cheap arms into Africa. And US activities in Iraq do not win friends anywhere. Africa does not need the US bringing terrorism into African countries again.

Both the President and Vice President of Liberia have endorsed AFRICOM. But Liberia has always been a US client state, and this looks like a continuation of that relationship. You can look at recent decades of Liberian history to see how well that special relationship with the US has worked for Liberia.

And it also looks like the US is trying to entice Nigeria as a host by dangling membership in the UN Security Council.

The United States (US) Government has said Nigeria has the possibility of becoming a permanent member of the United Nations (UN) Security Council if it follows through electoral reforms, strengthens the institutions of democracy, ensures stability and contributes to international peace and security.

The Bush administration is certain to continue a combination of threats and enticements, divide and conquer, to get African countries to accept AFRICOM. Unless US foreign policy and military policy turn in a dramatically different direction than they have taken for the last half century, any country that hosts AFRICOM surrenders its own sovereignty, and threatens the sovereignty and stability of its neighbors. AFRICOM will become the new colonial master. Military bases ARE American colonies.

As Isdore Guvamombe writes:

Stories about the army being set up to step up humanitarian assistance to Africa are mere rhetoric meant to hoodwink African governments into accepting a force that will eventually destabilise the whole continent.

Events in Kenya and Somalia are cases in point.

Africom must not be touched with a 10-foot pole by all in Africa

. . . if allowed to establish their permanent military force in Africa, the continent will be left stinking with endless conflicts.

Whichever country will be tricked into accepting to host Africom will automatically lose its sovereignty and integrity and will be judged harshly by history.

Today’s automatic weapons are designed to be small enough, light enough, and easy enough to handle, that they can be routinely used by children.

Yesterday the President of Botswana visited the US, and asked what all those of us following current events in Africa are asking:

President Festus Mogae has re-iterated the need for Africa to know the full details of the proposed US Africa Command (AFRICOM) before it commits itself.

So far the US has defined AFRICOM by what it isn’t, rather than what it is. Of course everyone knows what it is about, oil, and terrorism (defined as opposition to US oil interests) and China. However, these are clearly colonial intentions. The US cannot openly admit them, even though these are routinely the reasons given for the creation of AFRICOM in the US press.

The American Enterprise Institute held a forum titled: AFRICOM: Implications for African Security and U.S.-African Relations, on September 20th. Theresa Whelan of the U.S. Department of Defense was there repeating her usual remarks about what AFRICOM is not. According to Henry Ekwuruke:

The United States’ new African military command structure – Africom – will neither base nor deploy U.S. forces on the African continent, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs, Teresa Whelan said Thursday . . . “we will have no bases… and we will not be deploying U.S. forces on the African continent.” However, Africom as a command structure “will have a presence… in the form of staff officers” throughout Africa, she added. Nevertheless, “no more than 20 percent of the entire command will actually be physically present on the African continent.”

And in another account:

Speaking at a panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute, Whelan also worked to allay fears and dispel rumors that AFRICOM represents an American militarization of Africa and a possible usurpation of power from African leaders. She said critics are wrong in their assertion that AFRICOM is an attempt to further expand the war on terror in Africa, secure oil reserves, or hedge against Chinese influence there. “That is patently untrue,” she said.

In fact, the US cannot find a single African country willing to host AFRICOM. As upyernose points out:

there are 46 countries in africa, more than in any other continent in the world. and that number bumps up to 53 if you include the disputed western sahara and island nations like cape verde, são tomé and príncipe, madagascar, the comoros, the seychelles, and mauritius. together that’s about 25% of the total number of nations on earth. and yet, even among some of the poorest countries of the world who would surely reap economic benefits from a large first world military base, we could find not a single taker.

53 countries and no takers is truly remarkable. Of course there are a number of small bases in a number of countries, plus Djibouti, but no African country is willing to host AFRICOM headquarters so far. So for now the headquarters remains in Germany. But as Defense News points out, they haven’t stopped looking for an African host. The same article cites oil and terrorism as reasons for the command. And it quotes a Heritage Foundation fellow saying the headquarters must be based in Africa. The article also says the command will be divided into 5 regional teams:

One team will have responsibility for a northern strip from Mauritania to Libya; another will operate in a block of east African nations -— Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania; and a third will carry out activities in a large southern block that includes South Africa, Zimbabwe and Angola, according to the briefing documents. A fourth team would concentrate on a group of central African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Congo; the fifth regional team would focus on a western block that would cover Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger and Western Sahara, according to the briefing documents.

This does not stop the militarization of US foreign policy that AFRICOM represents, it continues it. And it does not stop the destructive arms policies of the US, which has been pouring arms into Africa throughout the Bush presidency, just as in the bad old days of the Cold War.

As Frida Berrigan points out in The New Military Frontier: Africa -

Even as these discussions continue, some African nations are receiving significant increases in military aid and weapons sales; most of these increases have gone to oil-rich nations and compliant states where the U.S. military seeks a strategic toehold. The Center for Defense Information recently completed “U.S. Arms Exports and Military Assistance in the “Global War on Terror;” an analysis of increases in military aid since September 11, 2001. The report compares the military aid and weapons sales in the five-year leading up to 2001 and the five years since.

For example (among the African countries receiving this military assistance): since September 11, Kenya, which the State Department describes as a “frontline state” in the war on terrorism, has received eight times more military aid than in the preceding five years.

Djibouti, which has opened its territory to U.S. forces, received forty times more military aid, and an eightfold increase in the value of weapons transfers.

Oil-rich Algeria, where the surveillance equipment is based, has received ten times more aid and a warm embrace from Washington.

Nigeria, the fifth largest supplier of oil to the United States, is slated to receive $1.35 million in Foreign Military Financing for 2008 despite persistent human rights abuses.

Mali is described as an “active partner in the war against terrorism” by the State Department and is a good example of a little military aid going a long way . . .

U.S. arms sales to Ethiopia, which has one of Africa’s largest armies, have roughly doubled and military aid has increased two and a half times.

As the Center for Defense Information points out:

The data clearly shows that the United States is sending unprecedented levels of military assistance to countries that it simultaneously criticizes for lack of respect for human rights and, in some cases, for questionable democratic processes. As a foreign policy, this is confusing, short-sighted and potentially very dangerous. Once weapons are delivered to a country, it becomes increasingly difficult to control how they are used and difficult to prevent them from being illicitly diverted anywhere in the world. While these countries are currently considered important to U.S. efforts in the “war on terror” now, political and military instability makes their continued allegiance to the United States questionable. Arming such countries with U.S. weaponry has troubling pitfalls: U.S. origin weapons could be used against the United States, its allies, or its interests. Selling arms for short-term political gains undermines long-term U.S national security and strategic interests.

This is NOT development aid. Many of these arms will go into the contraband pipeline, and help fund more drugs, human traffiking, child soldiers, and terrorism. These arms will decrease security, increase human rights abuses, and in the long run will earn the US more enemies than friends.

2/2008 – You can read my article reviewing the documentary trail on the Origins of AFRICOM over at the African Loft.

Nigeria, South Africa, and several North African countries have now spoken out strongly against hosting the Africa Command. The US is claiming that Africom is just an aid agency with guns. But given the US military policy of Full Spectrum Dominance, it seems unlikely that development aid is what the US has in mind. This is particularly true in light of the fact that:

Since the beginning of the war on terrorism in 2001, the United States’ top 10 sources of oil imports have experienced a 350 percent increase in U.S. military aid and training.

Nigeria may be trying to reinforce the economic clout it has in West Africa, maintaining and expanding the hegemony it has enjoyed to date. Not all of the countries in West Africa will find this an appealing prospect.

Likewise, South Africa is probably trying to maintain and expand its hegemony in southern Africa. And not all countries in southern Africa will see this as benign.

And both countries would like to increase their clout throughout the continent. Nevertheless, both of these countries are IN Africa, which gives them some a bit more right to speak FOR Africa than countries on other continents.

The US will try to drive wedges between these countries and their neighbors, but the US, and its full spectrum dominance approach, is hardly benign either. The US interests are oil and terrorism. Regardless of what is said to African leaders or the African press, oil and terrorism is how Africom is reported in the US press. Like the “communists” of the cold war, who became anyone who stood between the US and what it wanted, “terrorists” are anyone who stands between the US and oil. The US version of the colony is the military base.

China has been ruthlessly exploiting resources throughout southeast Asia, and there is no reason to suppose it will suddenly become more selfless and benign as it operates in Africa.

There are a whole lot of rocks and hard places ahead.

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