According to the Congressional Research Service January 2009 report to Congress: PDF: Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa
AFRICOM headquarters are based in Stuttgart Germany. Any long term decisisons as to their location have been postponed until 2012.
At present, DOD’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) has a semipermanent troop presence at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti with more than 1,500 U.S. military and civilian personnel in residence. The U.S. military has signed a five year lease with the Djiboutian government for Lemonier, with the option to extend the lease for two more five-year terms. The command authority for CJTF-HOA, formerly under CENTCOM, has been transferred to AFRICOM, and it will continue to be used as a Forward Operating Site. The U.S. military has access to a number of foreign air bases and ports in Africa and has established “bare-bones” facilities maintained by local troops in several locations. The U.S. military used facilities in Kenya in the 1990s to support its intervention in Somalia and continues to use them today to support counter-terrorism activities. DOD refers to these facilities as “lily pads,” or Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs), and currently has access to locations in Algeria, Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia.
… DOD officials have stressed that the location in question would be a staff headquarters rather than a troop headquarters, and have suggested that they may consider a dispersed regional headquarters model, with several small locations spread across the continent to lessen the U.S. presence and burden in any one country. DOD may eventually try to co-locate those facilities with the headquarters of the continent’s regional and sub-regional organizations to link AFRICOM with the AU’s nascent regional security architecture (see “Security Assistance” below). AFRICOM already has military liaison officers (LNOs) at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia and with ECOWAS in Nigeria, as well as at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center in Ghana. Those presences are likely to expand, and additional liaison offices may be attached to other regional organizations. DOD’s FY2009 budget request sought funding for a “limited presence on the African continent with the establishment of two of five regional offices,” although plans for those two offices have been postponed and funding for the offices was cut for the upcoming fiscal year.
The reports cites:
According to one defense analyst, “during the Cold War, United States foreign policy toward Sub-Saharan Africa had little to do with Africa.”
And despite all the fancy management speak about partnering with African partners, I think current policy has little to do with Africa, other than the fact that the US is far more focused on, and aware of, Africa’s natural resources, particularly oil. If US policy had more to do with Africa, the US would not be running its policy through its military. The CRS report emphasizes the issues of oil and counter terrorism as predominant reasons for the creation of the Africa Command.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS, has published Pursuing U.S. Energy Security Interests in Africa
A chapter in the forthcoming CSIS Africa Program report: Africa Policy in the George W. Bush Years: Recommendations for the Obama Administration, written by David L. Goldwyn. You can download the PDF prepublication draft of the report from the link. The synopsis reads:
Africa plays a strategic role in U.S. and global energy security. It is a critical supplier of new source production to global and U.S. oil supply. It is a natural gas supplier, with enormous potential to meet increased future demand in a carbonconstrained world. Africa remains open to foreign investment and is one of the few continents that has not dramatically reduced access to investment in recent years. If the continent meets its potential, it may increase its production dramatically over the next two decades, serving as a pillar of global energy security by providing a major source of diverse oil and gas supply. The risk of instability in many of Africa’s key energy producers is high and rising, posing a threat to the stability of these nations and their neighbors, as well as U.S. investment and the global economy.
Once again it is clear that the interest of the US is not about Africa, it is about energy for the US.
From the body of the report:
While Nigeria and Angola, traditional large producers, have grown, new major players have emerged: Equatorial Guinea, which produced just 168,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2000, is now the third largest producer in sub-Saharan Africa. 13 Exploration has moved from West Africa to East Africa, with new discoveries in Uganda and Tanzania. Exploration is under way in Madagascar, and licensing or exploration is being conducted in Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, Rwanda, and the Puntland region of Somalia. New infrastructure is emerging, from the West Africa Gas Pipeline (which will take Nigerian gas across Benin and Togo to Ghana) to development of major LNG facilities in Algeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria.
Investment levels are rising and moving offshore. According to PFC Energy, 95 percent of all regional production will be offshore, with 85 percent of total production coming from Nigeria and Angola. Over the next decade firms may invest as much as $485 billion in regional exploration and production between 2005 and 2030 14 . Forty-five percent of the gross amount of capital expenditures for deepwater oil development worldwide is likely to be spent in West Africa.
The report discusses the importance and production of African oil, and discusses the competition from Asian countries:
The real concern over the rise of Asian NOCs [national oil companies], therefore, primarily stems from anxiety over business practices that negatively affect competition and the long-term stability of producing countries. So far, Asian NOCs have tended to place commercial over humanitarian concerns and have failed to incorporate into the norms of their overseas operation the long-term risks of disregarding governance, environmental, and human rights concerns.
The blatant hypocrisy (or ignorance?) of this statement should have informed readers rolling on the floor laughing hysterically. Look at Equatorial Guinea, an international symbol for rapaciously exploitive government. The US is heavily engaged with Equatorial Guinea and friends with its dictator, Obiang. It is engaged in military to military partnerships whose effect will be to shore up his power and further crush and oppress his people.
Or look at the Niger Delta, where 60 years of oil production, and engagement with the US and US military have completely disregarded “governance, environmental, and human rights concerns.” This has created and environmental, human rights, and economic disaster for the people of the Delta. Currently AFRICOM’s activities partnering with the Nigerian military appear designed for further attacks and military actions against the people of the Niger Delta, calling them “terrorists” for opposing oil exploitation and the degradation of their environment. There are serious security issues in the Delta,but they require a political solution, with far more limited military action than seems to be under consideration.
The CSIS report does go on to describe some of the issues in more realistic detail. And it describes recent policy:
In the period from 2001 to 2008, many voluntary initiatives to improve transparency and governance emerged: the implementation of the U.S.-UK led Voluntary Principles on Human Rights and Security, the development of the Equator Principles, which require assessment of environmental impact of lending, and the internationalization of the UK-initiated Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The U.S. took a surprisingly distant approach to all of these efforts. …
There are several reasons for this relative disengagement on energy issues.
First was a shift in focus. After 9/11, the White House emphasis was on counterterrorism, with little attention to political and economic development. The link between underdevelopment and creating ungoverned spaces where terror might emerge was not identified or acted upon as a priority.
A second reason was that the White House and State Department saw that the market provided for energy supply despite internal problems in Africa, and concluded therefore that no energy market-related policy was required.
A third rationale was the absence of responsibility. The State Department Africa Bureau saw its duties primarily as crisis management. Sudan and Darfur in particular, along with DRC, Somalia, and Kenya, took most of the time of senior diplomats. Nigeria’s crisis in the Delta, despite implications for financing crime, spreading violence to neighboring countries, and destabilizing Nigeria’s democracy, did not make the cut for top priority. The State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs follows business interests generally, but has no funds or mandate to address internal energy developments in producing countries. The Energy and Commerce Departments are technical agencies with no funds or mandate to engage producing countries. No one at the White House had the mandate to pull together a strategy for preventive diplomacy in a place like Angola or conflict management in the Niger Delta, much less to consider the potential impact of conflict driven disruption—such a shut in of nearly one million barrels per day of production in Nigeria—on U.S. economic interests.
Finally, there was a lack of strategic vision. There is a growing consensus among companies, NGOs, and many African countries that among energy producing countries, good governance, sound revenue management, curbs on corruption, and provision of development needs, can ultimately contribute to global energy security, and avoid the human and economic depredations suffered by Nigeria, Sudan, and other “resource cursed” countries. A partner country can help advance energy security by engaging nations on simply improving their own economy and governance. This view, which would require a coordinated multiagency approach, did not appear to figure in Bush administration calculations. Indeed, several remarked that “transparency will never be a top priority.”
The report provides a practical list of the challenges ahead for the Obama administration:
Nigeria. … The United States needs a realistic strategy for addressing the issue of the Delta that acknowledges the complexity and severity of the instability—especially in the absence of a credible government counterpart with whom the U.S. and its allies can engage.
Declining U.S. Influence. If the United States is to influence the development path of current producers like Angola, Chad, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, and emerging producers such as Ghana and Madagascar, a special effort will be needed to restore a respected voice in those countries. …
Traditionally the U.S. and international institutions have effectively used their financial clout as leverage to compel developing countries to implement policies … the U.S. will need a more nuanced approach to engagement, since resource rich countries now have ample funding on their own or through unconditional loans from China.
Security of the Offshore. If 95 percent of all energy production in West Africa will be offshore by 2010 there will be a need both for the U.S. to monitor international waters, and for countries to have the wherewithal to see who is in their water, interdict pirates and criminals, and deter attacks on facilities to protect the lives of workers. Nigeria has surpassed Indonesia to become the “number one hot spot” for piracy in the world. …
The Competition for Values. … the great challenge that China poses to U.S. and European investment in Africa is not domination of acreage (their share remains minimal) but the refusal so far to participate in international standards, a stance that erodes the incorporation of these standards into host country practice. …
In the competition for values the US needs to demonstrate its own committment, not just preach about standards others should follow. As far as strategic visions go, it would be very nice if the US strategic vision was “a stable, prosperous Africa that contributes to global energy security and uses its wealth to develop its nations”. I have not seen much sign to date of that being the case.
The Need for a Strategic Vision. The United States cannot get where it wants to go—a stable, prosperous Africa that contributes to global energy security and uses its wealth to develop its nations—unless it has a vision of how to get there. …
Deploying Resources. The two components needed to implement an effective policy are people and money. The United States needs people at the White House charged with a focus on a strategic energy policy for Africa, and a greatly enhanced diplomatic capacity. …
Asymmetric Engagement. The United States should take a holistic approach to improving stability and development, with an indirect benefit being increased energy security. Efforts to promote economic development, democracy, human rights, public health, and security will create an environment favorable to achieving energy security goals. …
And the report concludes with:
Recommendations for the New Administration
Priority recommendations for addressing these challenges are:
1. Promulgate a Policy Decision Directive on African energy security
2. Provide White House leadership
3. Apply State Department diplomatic resources and leadership to energy security
4. Give governance and transparency policy a bureaucratic home
5. Engage Africa on its own energy and economic agenda, not just ours
6. Focus development and technical assistance on governance
7. Sustain efforts to promote maritime security
8. Engage Europe and Asia on Africa issues
9. Procure a National Intelligence Estimate on African Energy Security
10. Engage on the Niger Delta
This is a very good list of challenges and conclusions. I hope there is some will to take them seriously. So far US Africa policy seems to be on Bush administration auto pilot, and run by holdovers from the Bush administration. The two areas where AFRICOM has engaged in action on the continent have been disasters, Somalia, and Uganda/DRC.
Military liaison, even if it is conceived progressively, becomes its own self-fulfilling destination, especially when the rest of the U.S. government is starved, by comparison, for resources.
So far military liaison is where the money is. That will drive the policy regardless of intentions, and drive it to disaster after disaster. The US will need to invest its money differently to achieve its objectives, and to be a positive force in Africa. Is that likely to happen? Is it even possible? I certainly hope so.