click on the link for description and history of the ship

The USS Fort McHenry is on its way to the Gulf of Guinea to establish the continuing presence of Africom (Operation Recolonize?) It departed October 16. Or, as a headline in the African Oil Journal puts it:

USS Fort McHenry Navy Ship Left for Gulf of Guinea to protect Oil Interests:

The Gulf of Guinea has significant strategic importance because a large percentage of U.S. oil imports flow through it and U.S. officials are concerned about organized crime, and potentially terrorism, in the region.
. . .

“It provides a good example of what the newly established U.S. Africa Command is about as it relates to helping our partner nations on the continent of Africa build their capacity to better govern their spaces, to have more effect in providing for the security of their people, as well as doing the things that are important in assuring the development of the continent in ways that promote increased globalization of their economies as well as the development of their societies for the betterment of their people,” said the general.

General Ward says Africa Command will do the same type of training and humanitarian assistance missions the U.S. military has pursued in Africa for years, but will do more and will have better coordination with other U.S. government agencies, humanitarian groups and African governments.

He says such missions should help dispel concerns expressed in many African countries about alleged plans establish U.S. bases on the continent and to ‘militarize’ U.S. Africa policy.

“Once the command begins to operate, they will see that this hype of establishing large bases is just not a reality,” said General Ward.
. . .

The commander of U.S. Navy forces in Europe, who is responsible for the Africa Partnership Station mission, says even with Africa Command not yet fully operational, the navy is moving from what he called ‘episodic’ involvement on the continent to a nearly constant presence, in response to requests from African countries.

At Moon of Alabama b real has some particularly cogent reporting and analysis on the launch of AFRICOM and the USS Fort McHenry. I recommend you go there and take a look.

The goal of AFRICOM is to guard US oil interests, as the headline so clearly states. The proffered partnerships are to train African militaries to do the jobs the US wants done. This process is already well underway. As Vijay Prashad points out, African armies have increasingly become praetorian guards to protect the interests of large corporations. These “partnerships” AFRICOM touts are intended to be part of that “nearly constant presence”. In the article quoted above, General Ward brushes off the idea of large bases. The US will maintain a number of floating bases. Although I suspect it is still looking for a land base. The US may not need a land base to accomplish its objectives if it can manipulate its “partners” to its satisfaction.

When we hear talk of military partnerships, we should remember the ongoing US & Latin America military partnership, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) formerly the School of the Americas (SOA) and still based in Ft. Benning Georgia. It has been a military coup factory for Latin America.

SOA has trained more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers and policemen. Among its graduates are many of the continent’s most notorious torturers, mass murderers, dictators and state terrorists. As hundreds of pages of documentation compiled by the pressure group SOA Watch show, Latin America has been ripped apart by its alumni.

In fact, this year, August 2007, SOA Watch tells us:

A recent criminal investigation into the Colombian Army’s Third Brigade, has prompted the arrest of thirteen high ranking officers accused of providing security and mobilizing troops for Diego Montoya (alias “Don Diego”), the leader of the Norte del Valle Cartel and one of the FBI’s 10 most-wanted criminals.

Two former instructors of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC) are among the thirteen.
. . .
Over HALF of the thirteen military officials implicated in the drug cartel protection ring attended the U.S. Army School of the Americas and/or its successor institute, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

Africa has already experienced more than its share of military coups. Coups stop progress and development dead in their tracks. We don’t need more. There are already unfortunate ties between Latin American drug cartels and West Africa. Do we want the US military facilitating these ties, with African officers making contacts for the drug trade as part of their training? The US has been a complete failure in its war on drugs. There is NO reason to think it will do better in Africa, a continent about which it knows almost nothing.

The reference to increased globalization is likewise chilling. I see globalization and I think evisceration. The phrasing sounds like they are planning to open up Africa and pry out what they think are the good bits. It tells Africans that yet again they will be subsidizing the developed world with both blood and treasure.