April 2010


Hundreds of Somali soldiers trained with millions of U.S. tax dollars have deserted because they are not being paid their $100 monthly wage, and some have even joined the al-Qaida-linked militants they are supposed to be fighting.
Unpaid Somali Soldiers Desert to Insurgency

The desertions raise fears that a new U.S.-backed effort beginning next month to build up Somalia’s army may only increase the ranks of the insurgency.

About 500 of the Somali transitional government troops have been wrapped up training in Djibouti. Reports say that the Djiboutian national army and French forces had concluded the military training for the transitional government troops which continued for months in Djibouti especially the high Academic of Al-haji Hassan, a military centre in Djibouti which named the former Djiboutian president Al-haji. Reports from Djibouti say that the UN was playing an important role for the rebuilding the security forces of the transitional government which it had already established and the troops who took the military training will return to the home country.

In an effort to rebuild the tattered Somali military, the United States spent $6.8 million supporting training programs for nearly 1,000 soldiers in neighboring Djibouti last year and about 1,100 soldiers in Uganda last year and earlier this year, the State Department and Western diplomats told the AP. The troops were supposed to earn $100 a month, but about half of those trained in Djibouti deserted because they were not paid, Somali army Col. Ahmed Aden Dhayow said.

Some gave up the army and returned to their ordinary life and others joined the rebels,” he said.

Somalia’s state minister for defense, Yusuf Mohamed Siyad, confirmed some trainees had joined the al-Shabab militants, but he declined to specify the number of deserters.


The U.S. has provided $2 million to pay Somali soldiers and purchase supplies and equipment in Mogadishu since 2007, according to the State Department. Another $12 million went toward transport, uniforms and equipment.

Earlier this year, trainee soldiers had their guns confiscated and replaced with sticks after a riot broke out between those who had been paid and those who had not. The African Union, which has peacekeepers at Camp Jazira, temporarily suspended payments over fears that men who had been paid would be killed by those who had not, an official involved with the training said.

Soldiers also had problems with some battalion-level commanders stealing their rations, a European official said. The U.S. has sent a shipment of food this month to try to help the malnourished soldiers regain their strength, he added.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Siyad, the defense minister, said the U.S. was currently funding the salaries of around 1,800 Somali soldiers, and another 3,300 soldiers were being paid by other donors. However, that is only about half the 10,000 troops allowed under the peace agreement that formed the coalition government.


Both the police and soldiers need to feed their families,” Geyson said. “They need to be paid every month. Otherwise they have to find other solutions.”

Other “solutions” may be highly dangerous to the local population. They have certainly proved devastating in the past.

[T]he Somali government is forced to rely on donor nations that are often slow to pay, undercutting soldiers’ confidence in regular paychecks, and feeding desertions and corruption. There are few signs Somalia’s government will ever be able to deliver social services, shape military strategy and pay its army on its own.

Siyad said the success of the multimillion-dollar training programs funded by American and European taxpayers is completely dependent on being able to pay the graduates.

“If this is not done, then we shouldn’t even start. Otherwise the soldiers will just join the opposition,” he said.

Read the entire post: Unpaid Somali Soldiers Desert to Insurgency

Somalia is one of the major projects of AFRICOM, the US Africa Command. If you are a US taxpayer, you may want to consider if this is worth your support, especially considering the dismal prospects for the present Somali government. What does the US gain for the money invested? Results are what matters, not intentions. Is this a good investment for your money?

h/t africa comments where you may find a great deal more information about this story and more details as to exactly what is going on.
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Photo credit

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These first two graphics come courtesy of The Strategist. I don’t know if this first one is intended for civilians or for military training. Let us hope it is not part of ACOTA or IMET ;)

US Air Force Aircraft Identification Chart

These first two are not new, but I got a chuckle out of them.  Right now I’m working hard on some farming projects, with not much time to write.  The need for this next one is obvious. Click on any of the graphics in this post to see the larger version.

Journalist's Guide To Firearms Identification

The following are not intentionally humorous. They come via The Strategist and Information is Beautiful, and come originally from The Guardian DataBlog. The following graphics are by David McCandless.  If you go to the originals at The Guardian DataBlog there is some commentary, but I prefer to present them without commentary.  As someone once said to me when I was trying to get a specific political opinion from them:  patriots may draw their own conclusions.

Who really spends the most on their armed forces?

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

“We don’t want to see our guys going in and getting whacked . . . We want Africans to go in.”

Within the military realm, the terms proxy and surrogate are largely interchangeable.

KIGALI, Rwanda - General William E. "Kip" Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, reviews a Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) honor guard upon his arrival to the RDF’s Gabiro School of Infantry April 22, 2009. Ward led a U.S. Africa Command delegation on a two-day visit to Rwanda to visit with RDF officials. Ward met with RDF soldiers and toured the Gabiro school, the primary facility for infantry, armor, artillery and engineering training of RDF officers and enlisted members. (U.S. Africa Command Photo by Kenneth Fidler)

AMISOM-September-09

AMISOM troups from Uganda in Mogadishu, from an article published in September 2009

'C' Company 7th Battalion Kings African Rifles (KAR) at Mogadishu, 1 June 1941, WWII Photo Album of William Henry Rogers

I have included some current pictures of partner/surrogate/proxy military in Africa, and some historic pictures as well. It is important not to forget the history and the heritage of this relationship. Uganda President Museveni’s name means “Son of a man of the Seventh”, in honour of the Seventh Battalion of the King’s African Rifles, the British colonial army in which many Ugandans served during World War II.

I found one picture of C Company of the 7th Battalion KAR taken in Mogadishu in 1941. It is interesting to note that Ugandan soldiers are currently embroiled in Mogadishu as partners/surrogates/proxies for the United States. The middle picture above is Ugandan soldiers from the current AMISOM mission in Mogadishu.

Below are pictures of the Kings African Rifles, KAR, during the riots and disturbances in Nyasaland, which marked the end of colonial rule. The KAR acted as partners/surrogates/proxies for British colonial rule. I also added a few pictures of riot control training from a recent AFRICOM partner/surrogate/proxy training exercise in Benin for visual comparison. Experience tells us that in many countries these skills are likely to be used for internal counter insurgency operations and to quell legitimate political dissent, not unlike some domestic assignments given the former Kings African Rifles, who also served heroically in World War II.

King's African rifles advance on African rioters at time of emergency. Photos: James Burke/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images, Mar 01, 1959. By 1959 (in Nyasaland) major disturbances were taking place whereby natives stoned police stations and attacked policemen. A state of emergency was declared, and military forces were brought in to handle the situation. Regiments of the Royal Rhodesian Army and platoons from Tanganyika and Northern Rhodesia imported some 2,500 soldiers. The manpower of the police force was expanded to a total of about 3,000, including 200 extra policemen from Britain. Nevertheless, all these efforts were of no avail. The political opposition to British rule, organized in the Nyasaland African Congress, grew stronger and stronger, and the British colonial administration could not but prepare the way for African self-government. After the transition of power in 1962, the new African state of Malawi inherited from its colonial past a police force of some 3,000 agents, consisting of British, Asian and African recruits."

BEMBEREKE, Benin - Beninese Army soldiers demonstrate their riot control procedures for U.S. Marines during peacekeeping training at the Military Information Center in Bembereke, Benin on June 11, 2009. SHARED ACCORD is a scheduled, combined U.S.-Benin exercise designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation’s military tactics, techniques and procedures. Humanitarian and civil affairs events are scheduled to run concurrent with the military training. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Jad Sleiman)

Nyasaland Riot Control unit 1959

BEMBEREKE, Benin - A Beninese soldier practices baton strikes during peacekeeping training with U.S. Marines at the Military Information Center in Bembereke, Benin on June 11, 2009. SHARED ACCORD is a scheduled, combined U.S.-Benin exercise designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's military tactics, techniques and procedures. Humanitarian and civil affairs events are scheduled to run concurrent with the military training. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Jad Sleiman)

Kariba Dam February 1959. Kariba dam workers went on strike protesting low pay and terrible working conditions. Army riot squads flew to the dam to reinforce security troops after the striking workers stoned buildings and cars. Two special squads of European and African police were put on alert to move at a moments notice to any trouble spot in the British ruled federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland. Nevertheless, all these efforts were of no avail. The political opposition to British rule, organized in the Nyasaland African Congress, grew stronger and stronger, and the British colonial administration could not but prepare the way for African self-government.

Maj Shawn T. Cochran wrote Security Assistance, Surrogate Armies, and the Pursuit of US Interests in Sub-Saharan Africa published in the U.S. Air University’s Strategic Studies Quarterly Spring 2010 v.4 #1 (PDF). He is quite interesting on the subject of US surrogates and partners in Africa, and on historic and current US efforts to create and use African partners/surrogates/proxies.

In the words of a senior US military officer assigned to AFRICOM, the United States seeks to enhance regional military forces because, “We don’t want to see our guys going in and getting whacked . . . We want Africans to go in.”

One thing he points out early on is:

There is no official DoD definition for surrogate force, the second key concept. For many, the term proxy may be more familiar. Within the military realm, the terms proxy and surrogate are largely interchangeable. The use here of the latter reflects a desire to establish a degree of distance from the related, yet viscerally more contentious, concept of proxy war. Given the African experience, any allusion to proxy war will likely elicit recollections of how external powers, both in the colonial and Cold War eras, competed by initiating, escalating, and exploiting local conflicts. Today, many who wish to denigrate a given foreign policy in Africa simply apply the label “proxy war” for dramatic effect

I am one of those who uses the label proxy war not just for dramatic effect but to keep in mind an accurate historic context for viewing current US military adventurism in Africa.

… a surrogate force is defined as an organization that serves the needs or interests of a secondary actor—the sponsor—by employing military power in place of the sponsor’s own forces. Implicit within this definition is the requirement for the sponsor to fund, equip, train, or otherwise support the surrogate. The sponsor also must exercise at least some form of control or influence over the surrogate.

Cochran discusses the term partnership:

US policy makers and defense personnel alike speak regularly in terms of “building partner capacity.” The dialogue surrounding the standup of AFRICOM certainly follows this trend. This is probably more palatable than the notion of developing surrogates, but the palatability comes with a downside. Bertil Dunér outlines the three dimensions of a surrogate relationship as
compatibility of interests,
material support,and
power.
Of the three, power, or influence, exerted by the sponsor is most critical.

… By analyzing, strategizing, and implementing security assistance in terms of a partnership instead of a sponsor-surrogate relationship, one is perhaps more likely to marginalize the critical, albeit controversial, factor of donor influence and control.

Such marginalization may affect adversely the degree to which security assistance programs achieve US objectives.

Cochran uses two case studies to explore US surrogacy in Africa, the Nigerian intervention in Liberia in 2003, and the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006 and its aftermath.

The surge in US security assistance to Nigeria from 2000 to 2003 was closely tied to the US government’s expectation of Nigeria as a lead contributor to subregional and regional peace support operations. From the US point of view, Nigeria’s hesitancy to respond to the Liberian crisis and attempt to pressure the United States into committing its own forces represented a degree of “shirking,” defined within agency theory as not doing all that was contracted or not doing the task in a desirable way.

Beyond the factor of conflicting goals, shirking is also more likely in situations where there is significant outcome uncertainty and thus significant risk.

Particularly noteworthy to the role of partner/surrogate/proxy is this point that Cochran notes:

Nigerian lack of enthusiasm for the mission stemmed in part from the inculcation of democratic practices. In a democracy, the state military ultimately serves as an agent of the people. Where Nigerian dictators had been able to employ the military whenever and however they saw fit, the democratically elected leadership, accountable to Nigerian public opinion, found it increasingly difficult to justify and garner public support for the expenditure of troops and national treasure in external conflicts.

Democracy is likely to discourage military surrogacy. When the people in a country have a say, they must see a good reason and a potentially positive outcome to be willing to spend national blood and treasure. Democracy was at work preventing Nigeria and Ghana from participating in the disastrous US exercise in Somalia. Uganda and Rwanda, being only nominally democracies, and actually run as military governments, make much better surogates and are favorites of the US Africa Command and significant recipients of US military funding. Uganda has contributed a great many soldiers to the Somali exercise. The development of military partners/surrogates/proxies is an enemy of democratic governance.

Cochran also includes the following quote, which has continent wide implications. In the Cold War you called your enemy a communist in order to get military assistance, only the word has changed.

The new game in Somalia is to call your enemy a terrorist in the hope that America will destroy him for you.”

The US put considerable pressure on Ghana and Nigeria to contribute to the Somali disaster.

… the failure of Ghana and Nigeria to respond is of particular interest. Both received substantial US security assistance funding in 2005 and 2006. Both, at the urging of the United States, pledged troops to AMISOM and in return were promised additional US training and equipment tailored specifically for the operation. The United States also agreed to provide logistical support. Still, despite significant US diplomatic pressure, neither country ever deployed its forces to Somalia, each offering a continuous litany of reasons for the delay. When asked to explain this lack of response despite previous pledges, a senior US military official in the region opined that Somalia “scared the . . . out of them” and that they had no direct interests related to the mission. In other words, “Why would Ghana care about Somalia?”

And that is the key question. There is no reason on earth that benefits Ghana why Ghana should become involved in Somalia. I think Ghana has shown great wisdom. Ghana should be wary, it has received quite a bit of “assistance” through the ACOTA program.

Why invest long term without any guarantee of return? Why not just wait until the need arises and then tailor security assistance to provide only the willing actors with what is necessary for a specific intervention? This would ostensibly eliminate some of the uncertainty inherent in screening and mitigate agency loss from shirking behavior. The United States, in fact, has moved in this direction over the past few years. ACOTA, in particular, has been utilized repeatedly for such “just in time” security assistance.

Summing up the US approach to partnerships/surrogates/proxies Cochran writes:

From the case studies, it is apparent that the United States takes two broad approaches to developing surrogate forces in Africa. The first derives from the perceived strategic potential of a key actor. It consists of a longer-term security assistance relationship not tied directly to any specific intervention. …

The second can be characterized as a “fire brigade” approach. This is more ad hoc and involves a short-term use of security assistance to generate support for a specific intervention and preparing willing participants just prior to deployment.

He has the grace and intelligence to tell us:

One should not take from this discussion that Africa’s problems or threats to US strategic interests in Africa are best dealt with through military means. In most cases, military force, even if employed by a surrogate, is not the answer but sometimes it is. Given the nature of the African security environment, it is sometimes impossible to pursue broader economic, political, and humanitarian aims without a concomitant threat or application of arms.

With the gigantic imbalance between military and civilian spending, and the huge presence and activity of the Africa Command around the continent, and the US not doing much else, all African problems as viewed by the US are likely to be treated like nails requiring a military hammer. With the present imbalance in military to civilian spending, a military hammer is about the only tool on offer from the US.

Through its various security assistance programs, the United States now seeks to build both the capability and willingness of African states to employ military force throughout the region in a manner that supports US strategic interests and precludes the requirement for direct US military intervention. The United States, in effect, is seeking to develop surrogates.

We don’t want to see our guys going in and getting whacked . . . We want Africans to go in.”

Koranteng writes:

I have many memories of the two coups I lived through in Ghana …The safe detail that lingers, however, is of the martial music that consumed the radio, and then the TV, airwaves in the ensuing days. … Suffice to say that I have a visceral reaction to military strongmen and their rhetoric – I am blinded by the accompanying blood.

The martial music of our coups all had this alien, otherworldly aura – as if to remind the listener that the military in Africa were one of the most ruinous of our colonial inheritances.

The US Africa Command and the military contractors continue that ruinous colonial tradition, the latest manifestation of that ruinous colonial inheritance.

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By 1959 [in Nyasaland]

Daniel Volman provides a rundown of US military spending in Africa for the coming FY 2011. President Obama is continuing and expanding:

… the militarised and unilateral security policy that had been pursued by the George W. Bush administration toward Africa, as well as toward other parts of the world.

CAMP KASENYI, Uganda - Staff Sergeant Andre Amantine of the 2-18 Field Artillery Regiment out of Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, marches with his students of the Counter Terrorism Course on June 16, 2009 at Camp Kasenyi, Uganda. More than 100 Ugandan soldiers graduated from this CJTF-HOA-supported course, which covered topics such as individual movement techniques, troop landing procedures, land navigation, first aid, identifying improvised explosive devises, and more. (Photo by Master Sergeant Loren Bonser)

Volman’s figures on FY 2011 Budget Requests by Country

The 38 million dollars for the Foreign Military Financing programme to pay for U.S. arms sales to African countries includes:
9 million for Liberia,
9 million for Morocco,
4.9 million for Tunisia,
2.5 million for Djibouti,
2 million for Ethiopia,
1.5 million for the Democratic Republic of Congo,
1.4 million for Nigeria,
one million for Kenya.

The 21 million dollars for the International Military Education and Training Programme to bring African military officers to the United States for military training includes:
2.3 million for Tunisia,
1.9 million for Morocco,
1 million for Kenya,
1 million for Nigeria,
1 million for Senegal,
950,000 for Algeria,
825,000 for Ghana,
725,000 for Ethiopia,
600,000 for Uganda,
500,000 for the Democratic Republic of Congo,
500,000 for Rwanda.

The 24.4 million dollars for Anti-Terrorism Assistance programmes in Africa includes:
8 million dollars for Kenya,
1 million for South Africa,
800,000 for Morocco, and
400,000 for Algeria, and
14 million for African Regional Programmes.

A U.S. Air University’s Strategic Studies Quarterly paper (PDF) by Maj Shawn T. Cochran, USAF, includes a description of the difference between creative aid and acquisitive aid:

Creative aid, even of a military variety, focuses on the socioeconomic development of a recipient without being tied to any specific strategic objective of the donor. It is “not primarily intended to acquire anything, at least not immediately; it is extended in the hope that it will favorably affect the economic and political development of the recipient country.” On the other hand, a donor will utilize acquisitive aid to “win a comparatively specific advantage” or to “acquire” an asset. In further defining the nature of the latter, Liska postulates,

In the case of acquisitive aid the recipient’s performance substitutes directly for action by the donor. The donor either does not expect to act at all or would have to act “more” or “differently” if he could not anticipate the performance of the recipient. … The case is clearest where military and economic aid are intended to help the recipient maintain an army for local self-defense, so that the United States does not have to participate with troops or need involve only a correspondingly smaller number of troops.

This passage highlights the basic linkage between security assistance and surrogate force.

I have not seen much sign of creative aid coming from the US government to Africa for many decades. There is plenty of acquisitive aid. AFRICOM’s partnering is acquisitive aid, security assistance designed to acquire surrogate force. The gift is arms and military training so that African soldiers can fight, suffer and die for US interests, and US soldiers will not have to. But we won’t see creative aid. We won’t see aid that will favorably affect the economic and political development of the recipient country. We won’t see aid that will help develop transportation, or health, or education, or improved sanitation and sewage, or any of the things governments do to earn the consent of the governed and to govern peacefully and prosperously. We see the Africa Command in military photo op aid performing a few of these functions in local isolation. But the money for these is peanuts compared with the money for arms and military training, or even compared with the expense of just moving military equipment from place to place.

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania - Tanzanian Sailors practice visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) techniques during an exercise aboard the Africa Partnership Station (APS) East platform USS Nicholas (FFG 47), January 20, 2010. VBSS is just one of a series of maritime training courses being offered onboard Nicholas and the High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) by APS East instructors to members of the Tanzanian Navy. APS East is in Tanzania to participate in maritime and cultural exchanges with the Tanzanian Navy and will visit ports in Comoros, Djibouti, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique and Seychelles to enhance maritime safety and security in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Julian Olivari)