SAS Drakensberg – Image: SA Navy

The United States Navy is attempting to ring fence Africa, and appears to be thinking about the same in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

The U.S. Navy has the waters surrounding the African continent covered.

Last week, the seafaring service wrapped up a tour by the Navy’s 6th Fleet Southeast Africa Task Force, a three-nation mission with visits to Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion.

The task force, led this year by the landing ship dock USS Ashland, mirrors in scope to another U.S. Naval Forces Europe/6th Fleet-led initiative dubbed Africa Partnership Station. That effort works with 14 West and Central African countries to teach similar maritime security initiatives.

The Southeast Africa Task Force is about two years behind APS in terms of planning, carrying out missions and providing a “persistent presence” in African coastal waters.

The Navy is experimenting with sea basing in the Gulf of Guinea to float outside any country of interest to the US.

And, south of the United States:

Fourth Fleet to sail again in Latin America
It’s official: The Pentagon formally announced Thursday that it is reestablishing an administrative entity called the Fourth Fleet — to oversee Navy vessels that sail the Caribbean, Central and South America.

There is not much funding as yet. Interestingly, the language is pretty much the same as the official language describing US Naval activities around Africa:

… missions ranging from humanitarian relief to stopping drug trafficking to training with other navies …

But the world is not standing still. India, South Africa, and Brazil are getting together to cooperate in Naval exercises.

From India’s viewpoint:

India also remains somewhat nervous about the large U.S. military presence in the Indian Ocean to India’s west–in the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. India’s Maritime Doctrine observes that “the unfolding events consequent to the war in Afghanistan has brought the threats emanating on our Western shores into sharper focus. The growing US and western presence and deployment of naval forces, the battle for oil dominance and its control in the littoral and hinterland … are factors that are likely to have a long-term impact on the overall security environment in the [Indian Ocean region].”

India is systematically targeting states that will bring India specific and tangible security and economic benefits.

India has joined together with South Africa and Brazil to form IBSA:

New Delhi, Apr 28 India is all set to expand its defence cooperation with more countries, with the forthcoming tri-lateral naval exercises between South Africa, Brazil and India next month.

The inaugural IBSA (Indian-Brazil-South Africa) maritime exercise will take place off Simonstown May 2-16. This is part of a package of measures announced after the second IBSA summit of the heads of state of the three countries in Pretoria, in October last year.

According to sources in the ministry of defence (MoD), “The tri-lateral naval exercise, first of its kind, we are looking forward to our interaction with other navies. The significance of such an exercise is the exposure the navy will get from not only the Indian Indian Ocean Rim Navies but the Brazilian Navy too.”
The three IBSA countries have strongly divergent opinions on regional security, security, influence and profits in the military industry. “Therefore, trilateral cooperation in this area will facilitate military cooperation trilaterally.”

Bush/Cheney have severely weakened the US. Trying to rule the world with an iron fist, even with occasional bits of velvet on, won’t work. The world has other ideas. The IBSA countries all enjoy friendly relations with the US. Yet obviously they see a need for military alliances that do not include the US.

The US can cause, and in many places already is causing enormous suffering, without much in the way of positive results. Other approaches to US needs and wants are certainly possible, probably more effective, and unfortunately unlikely anytime soon. And of course, if anyone is actually interested in democracy, strengthening political and diplomatic institutions is the way to go, not increased militarism.