AFRICOM


Although the timing and nature of the coup in Mali is surprising, that a coup occurred is not surprising. Mali’s GDP is around $9 billion. The annual US $167 million in military train and equip investment is a huge sum in relation to Mali’s GDP. The overwhelming emphasis on military training, arms transfers, and military assistance, is an incitement to create military governments wherever it occurs. The message is that the military knows how to run things, and you need the military to get things done. It would require robust and independent civilian institutions to counter that. Few developing countries enjoy that luxury. Mali was in a better position to maintain a civilian democratic government than most. The US may have had no direct involvement in the coup, or there may have been some knowledge, possibly even encouragement from US sources. I would hope that is not true, but there are plenty of unfortunate precedents. And Captain Sanogo has received a lot of US training, including at the coup school at Ft. Benning.

The following are more pictures of US train and equip activities in Mali, from 2009-2011.

GAO, Mali - A U.S. Navy SEAL advisor watches a Malian special operations vehicle unit run through immediate action drills for counter-terrorism missions during training February 26, 2010, near Gao, Mali. The Special Operations Command - Africa SEAL team spent several weeks in Mali working with a Malian special operations unit on advanced counter-terrorism skills training. Military training engagements such as this one are geared to build upon previously established relationships and help African partner nations develop capacities, achieve regional cooperation and improve security. These capacity-development events support the regional interagency objectives of the U.S. State Department's Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership program and the Department of Defense's Operation Enduring Freedom (Trans-Sahara). (Photo by Max R. Blumenfeld, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara)

MI Professional Course, Bamako, Mali, March 2011. Recently, U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) intelligence assets extended a helping hand to their African continent counterparts in Bamako, Mali. 18 students from various African nations took part in a Military Intelligence Professional Course (MIPC) recently. The six-week course was conducted in French and English. This six-week course was the first of two such MPICs slated for this year.

It is worth reviewing this article from 2009:
Counterterrorism’s blindness: Mali and the US
Vijay Prashad

BAMAKO, Mali - A French-speaking U.S. Special Forces NCO advises a Malian military counter-terrorism unit while training on raid tactics recently at a military installation near Bamako, Mali. Advanced counter-terrorism training is provided by U.S. Special Operations Forces under the authorities of the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership, a State Department-led interagency initiative designed to develop the capabilities of countries in northern and Western Africa. U.S. Special Forces teams provide capacity development training and advisement during more than 30 pre-scheduled military training engagements conducted annually in the Trans-Saharan region. Department of Defense TSCTP activities in the region are planned, coordinated and conducted as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (Trans-Sahara) and are managed by SOCAFRICA's Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara. (Photo by JSOTF-TS Public Affairs)

Mali: The Political Crisis – Taking Grievances Seriously by Brian J. Peterson fleshes out the story of what happened far beyond previous accounts.

When the protest movement of Malian women erupted in the town of Kati on January 30, few took notice. The women were mostly “war widows” of Malian soldiers recently killed in fighting against the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA).

The women were protesting the lack of government support, in particular the shortage of weapons and food, given to Malian soldiers. And they were enraged to hear reports that their husbands, sons and brothers had been massacred in the most dishonorable way by MNLA forces.

As the movement gained steam, the women began marching on Bamako, burning tires along the 12 km road from Kati, and heading for the presidential palace overlooking the city on the “hill of power.” Within days, the movement evolved into a more broad-based march in Bamako, soon spreading to Segou, the country’s second city.

Thousands of civilian protesters threw up barricades and burned tires, effectively shutting down the capital as President Amadou Toumani Touré desperately tried to restore order. Government security forces were dispatched with tear gas and blank bullets. As we have seen, this was only the beginning. But it provided the initial spark that eventually triggered the mutiny in Kati, which in turn evolved into the coup overthrowing the President.

This has led some to view the coup as “accidental” and “improvised.” But this improvised genesis of the coup still raises questions: to what extent is the junta expressing or reflecting the will of the people in the street? Is there any overlap between the junta’s populist rhetoric and the grievances of ordinary urban and rural Malians? Indeed, in assessing the crisis of Mali’s democracy, the world community must seriously address Malian popular grievances. And the main grievances I have in mind are ones that reach beyond dissatisfaction with the Malian government’s mishandling of the anti-separatist wars in the north.

… much has been said about the unintended consequences and spillover of the Libyan wars into the Sahel zone. Arms and mercenaries have flowed into northern Mali in the wake of Qaddafi’s overthrow, fanning the fires of Tuareg discontent. But these once-proud desert warriors have perennially opposed the state, leading to a series of rebellions against the post-colonial Malian government from the 1960s. Even during the pre-colonial and colonial periods, these nomadic groups existed largely outside state-spaces. Thus, a fundamental cause continues to be the unresolved tensions in the north, and the inability to convince the Tuareg that belonging to the Malian state is in their interests. Now, more recently, with ample arms, vehicles, and skilled fighters, they have stunned the Malian army with their rapid conquests in the north. At the moment of this writing, they are on the verge of even taking Kidal and Timbuktu. Again, they are mostly separatists, but not monolithically so.

The MNLA wants to carve out an independent nation of Azawad, free from the Bamako-based Malian government, which it views as tyrannical and unresponsive to northern concerns. Another group, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) appears primarily concerned with operating its smuggling and kidnapping-for-ransom business. And it should be noted that the MNLA has stated that one of its goals is to defeat AQIM, which has severely damaged the Tuareg economy by virtually ending tourism in the region. The third major group, Ansar Dine seeks to establish northern Mali as an Islamic state based on shar’ia law, according to leader Iyad ag Ghali. His group has been purportedly backed by Saudi Wahhabis. Taken as a whole, the “northern insurgency” has overwhelmed the Malian government and thrown it into a crisis that threatens to deepen and spread beyond its borders.

Back in Bamako the coup leaders saw a political opportunity in the run-up to the April 29 elections. While it is impossible at this stage to impute particular motives or intentions, we know of the military’s dissatisfactions as expressed by the newly formed National Committee for the Return of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR). Furthermore, their stated and perceived intentions will be evolving in response to forces on the ground. Echoing the grievances of the women protesters, they state that they overthrew the government because of its “incompetence.” We’ve heard their rhetoric about defending democracy, fighting “terrorism,” restoring effective governance and such. And we’ve also been forced to contemplate the junta’s statements about returning to democracy once the country has been “unified” and “no longer threatened.” All of this is fairly familiar boilerplate reminiscent of African leaders, such as Mobutu and others who since the 1960s spoke of national unity while remaining clients of former colonial rulers or Cold War powers. In this light, U.S.-trained Capt. Amadou Sanogo, the head of the putschists, has neglected to count the presence of U.S. counter-terrorism forces, neoliberal economic policies or Franco-African neocolonial relationships as threats to “national unity” or “territorial integrity” alongside corruption, state paralysis and the northern insurgency.

The US seems primed to conflate MNLA with AQIM. This is a major mistake and needs to be countered and avoided. The US needs to listen to the local people, the people they call partners, but do not listen to and do not consult except those that have been trained by the US and say what the US wants to hear.

Mali is entering a season of food shortages, and Malians have reason to be dissatisfied with their democracy.

beyond environmental and agricultural vicissitudes, there is a widespread sense in Bamako that democracy has not been working for ordinary Malians. More educated urban-dwellers have grown impatient with the lack of economic opportunities, and the slow pace of improvements in education and the judicial system. Many have adopted jaded views of democratic institutions and commonly bemoan the corruption, nepotism, and patrimonialism associated with the Touré government. As one young migrant worker in Bamako said to me: “What is democracy? Democracy is about theft from the people. It is about SUVs hitting children on the road and never going to jail.” Or more broadly, as the Malian writer Moussa Konaté recently observed, it has meant the replacement of the military regime of Moussa Traoré by the mafia-like clique of ATT “for whom personal interests are above public interest.” Elections have become empty exercises and “parodies of democracy,” in which votes are purchased and governing elites are recycled.


To keep his hold on power, Capt. Sanogo has moved quickly to quiet the xenophobia and anti-Tuareg hysteria. In a recent interview, he stated that the “Tuareg people in the north, the Arab people, are our brothers,” while noting that the “door is open” for discussion and resolution of the crisis. This could be intended for a Western audience. But for his stated “total control” over the country to be fully realized he cannot risk Mali slipping further into chaos.

Of course, whether or not the CNRDR stays true to its commitments to democratic institutions and sundry reforms of the state remains to be seen, and depends on whether or not a counter-offensive ever materializes, which at this point is appearing less likely. In the short-term, the coup leaders will seek to clamp down on looting and prove their ability to govern. If not, expect a quick and furious civilian backlash. Tolerance and cooperation are central values in Malian society, and indeed the mostly bloodless nature of this coup is remarkable. But when their sense of “moral economy,” that is to say their popular notions of justice and fairness at a time of dearth, is threatened, Malians have proven themselves more than capable of mobilizing against tyranny and conditions that they deem intolerable, as seen in 1991. And, in the end, it will be for Malians to decide what they’re willing to tolerate. For outsiders to blindly rally behind the word “democracy,” without acknowledging what it means in local contexts, or even how “politics” operate in rural and urban Malian settings, is a disavowal of the risks Malians are willing to take for a better future.

Read the whole thing: Mali: The Political Crisis – Taking Grievances Seriously

Here is some current analysis of the coup in Mali. I’m including excerpts, but each of these articles is well worth a complete read.

Mali:  How Will Coup Impact Peace and Stability? (analysis)
Unfortunate Military Coup an Unnecessary Setback for Democracy
INSTITUTE FOR SECURITY STUDIES, 24 MARCH 2012

As the first military coup in 2012 taking place 21 years after the democratisation process in Mali, this is certainly a major test for the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance in force since February 2012. There is also sufficient grounds for the regional organization Ecowas to firmly condemn the coup and insists on the return of a constitutional order. The statement by Ecowas, condemning the misguided actions of the mutineers and warning that it will not condone any recourse to violence as a means of seeking redress was a major step in the right direction. The next step was a decision by the African Union on the suspension of Mali from continental and regional institutions in line the policy of zero tolerance for any attempt to obtain or maintain power by unconstitutional means. It is about time military coups are eliminated from the political culture of the continent.

Mali:  Is There a Route Back to Democratic Stability? (analysis)
CHATHAM HOUSE, 23 MARCH 2012

The putschists may seek to consolidate their power; but they are isolated. Their attempts to secure the endorsement of senior religious and political figures and the senior officer corps have been rebuffed. The Bamako establishment is well aware of what is at stake, and what the country stands to lose if the overthrow of democracy is confirmed.

Despite the mutineers’ complaints, there is a widespread recognition that the crisis cannot be resolved through military means alone. Some sort of understanding would have to be reached with the MNLA, which has begun to hint that it might be ready to talk. And a new president, with a fresh election mandate, would be better placed than Touré to embark on such a deal. This may be a best case scenario.

There is, of course, also a worst-case option: that the mutineers reject negotiation opportunities, seek to hunt down Touré and then try to resolve the northern crisis through force alone. The consequences of that hardly bear thinking about.

Mali:  Coup Makes Tuareg Rebellion At Its Heart Harder to Resolve (analysis)
AFRICAN ARGUMENTS, 23 MARCH 2012

Yet, that a coup should have occurred so close to the April 29th elections, when Touré was due to step down, is highly significant. It has been suggested that the seizure of power in this way is indicative of a sentiment among sections of the military, and their supporters in civilian society, who believe that politicians are unable to competently resolve the rebellion in the North. If true, then there is more reason to be concerned for Mali in the long-term.

That politicians are unable to competently resolve the rebellion or any other problems is a major part of the message sent by AFRICOM’s train and equip. It may or may not be intentional, but if you only invest in the military you are only preparing for military solutions.

These other articles are worth reading as well.

Mali:  Reversal of Fortunes – A Coup d’état Sets Mali Back
RADIO NETHERLANDS WORLDWIDE, 24 MARCH 2012

A previous military takeover ushered in democracy. This time around, the soldiers are taking Mali in the opposite direction. read more 

Mali:  Junta Courts Civil Society
INTER PRESS SERVICE, 23 MARCH 2012

Mali:  Rebellion Claims a President
UN INTEGRATED REGIONAL INFORMATION NETWORKS, 22 MARCH 2012

Mali:  African Union Suspends Mali Over Coup
THIS DAY, 24 MARCH 2012

It does look more likely the coup was spontaneous, and there are some positive developments.

Mali: Ecowas to Call for Interim President to Replace Toppled Touré

West African leaders may call for the speaker of Mali’s parliament to become interim president following last week’s military coup, Burkina Faso’s foreign minister has told RFI.

The Ecowas regional bloc is to send a delegation of six heads of state to the country to press for a return to constitutional order and elections.

As part of a “transition in keeping with constitution”, the delegation is considering proposing that national assembly speaker Dioncounda Traoré become president temporarily, Burkinabé foreign minister Djibril Bassolé said in an interview with RFI’s Christophe Boisbouvier.

That would mean deposed leader Amadou Toumani Touré bow out until elections are held.

“If that is the formula that can bring an end to the crisis, why not?” Bassolé said. “And I think that President Amadou Toumani Touré himself would have nothing against it. He has always wanted peace, democracy and stability.”


Thousands of people marched in support of the coup in Bamako on Wednesday, some carrying placards declaring “Down with France” or “Down with the international community”.

Meanwhile, 38 political parties and several civil society groups have set up an alliance to oppose the coup, calling on the military to “engage in dialogue without delay” and organise “regular, credible and transparent elections”.


The military government on Tuesday announced a new constitution that bans its members from standing in elections.

There are mixed signs. Even the supporters of the coup oppose outside interference, but that won’t stop the outside from interfering.

The coup in Mali arises partly from the blowback following the NATO destruction of Libya, part of the counter revolution against the Arab Spring, and from the train and equip activities AFRICOM has been conducting in Mali for much of this century. Train and equip laid the groundwork; the return from the ruins of Libya of militant and well armed Tuareg rebels provided the trigger. I wrote about the AFRICOM threat to Malian democracy back in 2009, US Policy Versus Democracy In Mali. The picture below is just one piece of the ongoing train and equip activities. There are a couple more pictures at the end of this post. Read the earlier post for more detail. When your only significant investment in a country is military train and equip, you are prepping that country for military government.

BAMAKO, Mali - U.S. Army Master Sergeant Robert Price stands with Malian soldiers he helped train as he is congratulated by Malian Minister of Defense Natie Pleah during a Counter Terrorism Train and Equip (CTTE) transfer of equipment ceremony in Bamako, October 20, 2009. Price, a logistics NCO with Special Operations Command Africa's Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara, supervised maintenance and supply accountability training provided to Malian soldiers for tactical vehicles and communications equipment transferred to Malian units. Under the U.S. State Department's Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Program (TSCTP), U.S. Africa Command's Operation Enduring Freedom-Trans Sahara (OEF-TS) Counter Terrorism Train and Equip initiative provided 37 brand-new Toyota Land Cruiser pickup trucks and high-tech communications equipment that will allow Malian military units to move, transport and communicate across vast expanses of open desert in the northern region of the country. In addition, replacement parts, clothing, individual equipment and other supplies will be provided in the next few weeks as part of a U.S. government capacity-building equipment transfer totaling more than $5 million. The CTTE program is designed to develop stronger military-to-military relationships while underscoring U.S. support for partner nation sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. (Photo by Max R. Blumenfeld, JSOTF-TS PAO)

Based on the accounts so far, it appears the coup may not even have been planned, it may have been spontaneous, arising from an argument between the military and the government at a meeting to discuss the handling of the Tuareg rebellion in the north. However, the groundwork for a coup was all in place, including the education of its leader:

Mali’s Tuareg rebels advance as world condemns coup

The green-beret mid-ranking captain, [Captain Amadou Sanogo] who speaks with a raspy voice, also revealed he had spent much time at training programmes in the United States, in Georgia and at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia.
He said he was trained under a US scholarship as an English instructor

And from another source:

Sanogo, who said he had received “training from U.S. Marines and intelligence”, said, he would not remain in power but refused to give a timeframe for restoring civilian rule.

The New York Times tells us more about Sanogo’s US education 2004-2012, including at Fort Benning’s Coup School:

Mali and the United States have had close military ties in recent years as part of American counterterrorism programs. According to the State Department, Captain Sanogo attended an English-language instructor course at the Defense Language Institute, a special school for international military students at Lackland Air Force Base, Tex., from August 2004 to February 2005.

Nearly three years later, in December 2007, Captain Sanogo returned to the United States, this time for more English language classes at Lackland before attending the Army’s entry-level course for intelligence officers at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., instruction that he completed in July 2008.

Finally, Captain Sanogo attended the Army’s prestigious infantry officer basic training course at Fort Benning, Ga., from August 2010 to December 2010.

Stars and Stripes gives us more detail on the ongoing train and equip activities with Mali, Leader of Mali coup received officer training from AFRICOM, under U.S.-funded International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs, confirmed by the Africa Command and the State Department.

The U.S. military has supported the Mali military extensively over the past decade, and the country has become a significant partner in the U.S. efforts to curb North Africa’s shadowy al-Qaida affiliate, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM.

In addition to its involvement in the International Military Education and Training program, Mali has also participated in the Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership, which is intended to strengthen bilateral military ties with the U.S. and supports counterterrorism coordination across the region’s different militaries. Mali also recently hosted U.S. soldiers in a joint logistical exercise named Atlas Accord 12.

“We have regularly had small teams traveling in and out of Mali to conduct specific training that has been requested by the Malian government and military,” said Nicole Dalrymple, a spokeswoman for the Africa Command, known as Africom, in an emailed response to questions.

Most of the world was quick to condemn the coup:

Nigeria, others, deplore coup in Mali

NIGERIA yesterday joined others to condemn “in strong terms” reports that Malian rebel soldiers had taken over control of the country from the democratically elected government of President Amadou Toumani Toure.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who expressed displeasure and dismay over the action, described the move as “an apparent setback to the consolidation of democracy in Mali in particular and the African continent in general.”

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for calm and for grievances to be settled democratically. The African Union said it was “deeply concerned by the reprehensible acts currently being perpetrated by some elements of the Malian army”.

The African Union (AU) said the “act of rebellion” was a “significant setback for Mali”.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it was deeply disturbed by the raging mutiny in Mali and has warned mutineers to hands off attempts to take over power via unconstitutional means.

The US may be hedging its bets. From the Washington Post:

The coup is a major setback for Mali, a landlocked nation of 15.4 million which is dirt-poor but fiercely proud of its democratic credentials. The current president, a former parachutist in the army, came to power himself in a 1991 coup. He surprised the world when he handed power to civilians, becoming known as “The Soldier of Democracy.” A decade later, he won the 2002 election and was re-elected in 2007. There was never any question that Toure — known by his initials ATT — would step down at the end of his term next month.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said officials were meeting to discuss whether to cut off the $137 million in annual U.S. assistance.
.

A client military government seems to be the US preferred form of governance for African countries. It will be interesting to see how the US proceeds.

Here are some other stories on the coup:

Coup in Mali, the rats and dogs discussion continues

Tuareg rebels take Mali town, threaten 3 more

African Union Suspends Mali, Hears President Toure Safe

For more background information with particularly informative links, you can read these earlier posts:

US Policy Versus Democracy In Mali

Lied Into the War On Terror In the Sahara

New York Times catapults the propganda for AFRICOM

Inherent contradictions of AFRICOM – lies and illusions

GAO Report On AFRICOM, Where AFRICOM Is Active

Stable and secure in AFRICOM speak does not mean stable and secure for the people of Africa. It means stable and secure for US energy and resource needs and US policy objectives.

MALI - Malian commandos advance with a member of the U.S. 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) during training rehearsals May 13, 2009, at a military training area north of Bamako, Mali. Building on specialized skills previously acquired during joint exercises such as Flintlock, which is Special Operations Command-Africa's premier Special Operations Forces exercise in the Trans-Saharan region, the "Warrior-Ambassadors" of the 3rd SFG (A) were continuing their Africa-focused security forces assistance mission to enhance African Partner Nation capabilities to help achieve regional cooperation and security. The 3rd SFG (A) is based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (Photo by Max R. Blumenfeld, JSOTF-TS PAO)

Military training near Bamako, US. Mali, & Senegal 2008

AFRICOM was created for two main reasons, oil and China. I have documented where US officials have stated this at numerous places in this blog. For a more detailed discussion see Understanding AFRICOM: A Contextual Reading of Empire’s New Combatant Command Part I, Part II and Part III.

Kwesi Pratt, editor of the Insight newspaper in Ghana, was one of the few people who caught on to this very early. His question to President Bush regarding oil and Africa was rudely dismissed by Bush. In this century the West intends on taking 3 Cs out of Africa: Crude, China, and Capital.

Uganda People’s Defense Forces and U.S. Soldiers wait for supplies to be dropped from a Ugandan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter during Atlas Drop 11 at Drop Zone White near Olilim, northern Uganda, April 18, 2011. The US military was active in Northern Uganda and bordering countries long before President Obama announced he was sending Special Operations forces there in October 2011. AFRICOM and SOCOM (US Special Operations Command) plan to be there long after Kony and the LRA are a distant memory.

The LRA has been a scourge on Uganda for more than 20 years. When Uganda discovered oil prospects, the US became interested in the LRA. The military option to defeat Kony has been explored numerous times in the past, notably Operation North (1991), Operation Iron Fist (2002) and Operation Lightning Thunder (2008-2009). Each failed and led to massive reprisals against civilians.

The Acholi religious leaders, representing the regions and people who have suffered most from Kony and the LRA, point out that the only times things have gotten better is when there have been talks and negotiations.

Kony has no known political affiliations, he just likes war and terrorizing. Humanitarian rationalizations have always been the cloak of legitimacy for the ruthless extraction of African resources. We should recognize this by now.

Kony and the LRA operate across the borders in the territories of several countries that are of particular interest to the United States (partial lists of their resources in parentheses) South Sudan (oil, land, water, China) the DRC – Congo (oil, coltan, tin, tungsten, copper, gold, water, timber, China etc.) Uganda (oil, China, source of proxy soldiers, water, land, etc.) Burundi (uranium, rare earth, diamonds, cobalt, copper, land, water) CAR – Central African Republic (diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil). So Kony and the LRA are a very handy target indeed.

It would be excellent for everyone if Kony and the LRA are put out of business. IF (big IF) the US military can put Kony out of business, on its own, that would be a blessing. That is not the real reason the US is there, and the US will not be leaving when Kony is gone.

Museveni used protection from the LRA as a tool against the Acholi and other people of Northern Uganda, some call his methods genocide, they were certainly brutal and pervasive. It was not entirely inconvenient for him to have the LRA in business. The same is true for the United States. Kony and the LRA are very convenient, putting the US military exactly where they want to be.

Kony is a handy cover for the real reasons for US interest in the region, which are all about African resources.

You can see links to more information and documentation in these posts:
Uganda – Stepping On the Mission Creep Accelerator
If Uganda Has Oil It Must Need The Pentagon’s Democracy
or via this search: https://crossedcrocodiles.wordpress.com/?s=lra

Soldiers of the 5th Brigade, 75th Division, California Army Reserve, stand in formation with soldiers from Rwanda and Uganda during exercise Natural Fire 11 in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

There was a pause after Iran captured a US drone in early December, but Predator Reaper drone strikes have resumed in Somalia. I’ll continue to update the list of drone strikes in this post as more occur.

US Air Force General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper ordinance

Drone photo from James Gordon on flickr where you will find diagrams and more background information.

I have recorded details of the previous drone strikes occurring October 9 through December 2, plus background information here:
Bombing The Starving For Target Practice In Somalia

You’ll find more background on the drone use in Africa in this post:
Political Assassin Robots Flying In African Skies
 

Drone Strikes in Somalia:

US drone attack kills 38 in Somalia
Fri May 11, 2012

Somalia’s al-Shabab fighters say a US assassination drone attack has left at least 38 people dead and dozens of others wounded in the Horn of Africa state, Press TV reports.

The airstrike is said to have taken place in Somalia’s southwestern district of Badade, a Press TV correspondent reported

US drone strike kills 22 in Somalia
Fri Apr 27, 2012

A US assassination drone has pounded Somalia’s southwestern region of Gedo, killing at least 22 people in the attack, Press TV reports.

The attack was carried out on Friday when the unmanned aerial vehicle fired missiles at an area near Gedo’s Dhobley town.

Authorities say dozens of people have been wounded in the airstrike

US drone raid kills 31 in Somalia
Tue Apr 17, 2012

At least 31 people have been killed in the latest attack by two US assassination drones near Somalia’s southern town of Afmadow, Press TV reports.

Abdishakur Ahmed Madoobe, a Somali military official, confirmed the attack, adding that the aerial strike took place on Monday.

US terror drones kill 35 in Somalia
Sat Apr 14, 2012

At least 35 people have been killed and dozens of others wounded in a missile attack by two US assassination drones in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.

The casualties come after an unmanned aircraft fired several missiles at al-Shabab training bases located between the country’s capital city of Mogadishu and its neighboring city Afgoye on Thursday.

Captain Mohamed Haruun, a military official from the Halane military base, confirmed the attack, saying two US assassination drones were sent from the base late at night.

Haruun added that dozens of Somali troops were later deployed to seize the control of the damaged bases to from al-Shabab fighters.

US drone crashes in central Somalia  Tue Apr 3, 2012

An American assassination drone has crashed in Somalia’s central province of Galgaduud, causing a “massive explosion,” Press TV reports.

Press TV correspondent in Mogadishu says the unmanned aircraft went down near El-Bur town early Tuesday and caused “a massive explosion.”

The US military uses drones in several Muslim countries including Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

Washington claims the airstrikes target militants, though they have mostly resulted in civilian casualties.

El Bur has been serving as a key command and control base for al-Shabab fighters in the region for the past three years.

Residents of El-Bur told Press TV that hundreds of al-Shabab fighters left the town March 24.

US terror drone kills 18 in southern Somalia Saturday March 31, 2012

At least 18 people have been killed and a dozen others injured in an attack by US assassination drones in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.

The causalities come after an unmanned aircraft fired several missiles at al-Shabab positions in the Daynile District in west Mogadishu on Saturday.

Hussein Mohamed Uraag, a Somali military official, confirmed the attack, saying the aerial strike happened early in the morning.

The US military uses remote-controlled drones in Somalia to carry out reconnaissance operations and targeted killings.

US terror drone kills 30 in southern Somalia Tue Mar 13, 2012

At least 30 people have been killed and a dozen injured in an attack by US assassination drones in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.

The unmanned aircraft fired several missiles at al-Shabab positions in the Dayniile district of south Mogadishu on Tuesday.

Sheik Ibrahim Jaabar, a senior al-Shabab official, confirmed the attack, saying the aerial strike caused major damage to the group’s positions.

US terror drone crashes in Somalia’s Hobyo seaport Wed Mar 7, 2012

Another US assassination drone has crashed in Mudug region near Somalia’s seaport city of Hobyo, Press TV reports.

A Somali officials speaking on condition of anonymity said that the US spy drone had flown from nearby USS Taylor warship.

This is while the main objective of USS Taylor warship which headed towards Somalia from the Suez canal is to hunt kidnappers who abducted US citizens in Somalia’s Puntland Region.

US terror drone crashes in Somalia Mon Mar 5, 2012

Another US assassination drone has crashed near Central Somalia’s Mudug Province, Press TV reports.

According to local witnesses, the US drone crashed in the sea near the town of Harardheere.

The incident took place as the USS Taylor warship was reportedly heading towards the African nation from the Suez Canal.

The town of Harardheere has become notorious for being a pirate base in war-torn Somalia.

Recently, the US is using a new kind of drone, called a kamikaze drone, in Somalia. It functions both as a missile and an intelligence-gathering reconnaissance aircraft.

Scores killed in US drone attack in Somalia Feb. 29, 2012

A US assassination drone has killed scores of people in an attack on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Press TV reports.

Also on Tuesday night, the unmanned American spy planes attacked a number of targets in southern Mogadishu.

In another incident a US spy drone crashed near Halane military base in southern Mogadishu.

Somali officials confirmed that the US drone crashed on Wednesday in the southern part of the capital.

US terror drone crashes in Somalia
Sat Feb 4, 2012

A non-UN-sanctioned US assassination drone has crashed into a refugee camp in the Somali capital Mogadishu, Press TVreports.

Refugees and soldiers in Mogadishu’s Badbado camp say they watched the unmanned aircraft crash into a hut on Friday.

Shortly after the incident, forces from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) closed down the refugee camp, which is in the Dharkenley district of southern Mogadishu, the Press TV correspondent in Mogadishu reported.

Somali government officials and African Union forces found the drone after the crash and took it away.

A police officer told the media that the drone was shaped like a small plane.

The US is using a new kind of drone, called a kamikaze drone, in Somalia. It functions both as a missile and an intelligence-gathering reconnaissance aircraft.

A very British execution? Jan 25th 2012, by J.L.

BILAL AL-BERJAWI was British, but no friend of Britain. Lebanese, he grew up in London. He went to Afghanistan to fight as a mujahid. In 2006, he pitched up in Somalia. In recent years he was said to be involved in logistics for the al-Qaeda linked Shabab militia. Last year, he was stripped of his British citizenship. His family deny the allegations. They say Berjawi wanted to appeal the decision but feared any phone call would be tracked and followed by a drone strike.

His fears were not entirely misplaced. Last year he was said to have been injured in an air strike on a Shabab base in south Somalia. His wife, who had been with him in Somalia, returned to Britain. Three days ago, she gave birth at a London hospital. Berjawi took a chance and called her. That telephone call seems to have been traced by British intelligence and the coordinates passed on to the Americans. Within a few hours, three missiles from an American drone were fired at a Shabab checkpoint on the edge of Mogadishu. Berjawi was killed instantly, along with several other Shabab fighters. The Shabab issued their own propaganda. “The martyr received what he wished for and what he went out for, as we consider of him and Allah knows him best, when, in the afternoon today, brother Bilal al-Berjawi was exposed to bombing in an outskirt of Mogadishu from a drone that is believed to be American.” The Shabab spokesperson, Ali Mohamed Rage, promised revenge.

The efficiency of the attack was, in Baobab‘s opinion, offset by its lack of transparency. Questions abound. Who was Berjawi? What threat did he pose? Was the British connection a coincidence or a cool calculation? Did British politicians have any knowledge of the action? And what are the ramifications of drone attacks in Somalia? Will they break the jihadists, or deepen the cult of martyrology that may become evident in suicide bombings across the region?

In mid December a drone crashed in the Seychelles: U.S. military drone crashes in Seychelles

US terror drone, Kenya strike Somalia Fri Jan 6, 2012

At least 30 people have been killed after a US assassination drone launched an aerial attack on southern Somalia near the Indian Ocean coast as Kenyan fighter aircraft pounded another location in the south, Press TV reports.

Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent that the remotely-controlled aerial vehicle had fired several missiles at the town of Kuda from Kismayo, a strategically important port city on the Somali coast, located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Friday morning.

They added that 11 houses had also been razed to rubble in the strike.

Somalia is the sixth country, where the United States has used drones to launch deadly missile strikes. The US military has also employed the aircraft in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and Yemen.

On October 28, the United States admitted to flying the terror aircraft from a base in Ethiopia.

“The US has unarmed and unmanned aircraft at a facility there (Ethiopia) to be used only for surveillance as part of a broad, sustained integrated campaign to counter terrorism,” said Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby.

The confirmation appeared a day after The Washington Post revealed in a report that the US flied ‘armed’ drones from an airfield in Ethiopia’s southern city of Arba Minch.

Meanwhile, Kenyan fighter jets carried out airstrikes on villages in Somalia’s southern region of Gedo.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Strategically located in the Horn of Africa, the country remains among those generating the highest number of refugees and internally-displaced persons in the world.

Do It Yourself Drones

DIY Drones, for those with some serious curiousity about drones.
This is the home for everything about amateur Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Use the tabs and drop-down menus to navigate the site.
 

Drone Background and History

“The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (originally the Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), capable of remote controlled or autonomous flight operations, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) for use by the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, the CIA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Royal Air Force, and the Italian Air Force. The MQ-9 and other UAVs are referred to as Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft (RPV/RPA) by the U.S. Air Force to indicate their human ground controllers. The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance.

The MQ-9 is a larger and more capable aircraft than the earlier MQ-1 Predator (other than loiter time), and it can be controlled by the same ground systems used to control MQ-1s. The Reaper has a 950-shaft-horsepower (712 kW) turboprop engine, far more powerful than the Predator’s 115 hp (86 kW) piston engine. The increase in power allows the Reaper to carry 15 times more ordnance and cruise at three times the speed of the MQ-1. The aircraft is always monitored or controlled by aircrew in the Ground Control Station (GCS) and weapons employment is always commanded by the flight crew.

In 2008 the New York Air National Guard 174th Fighter Wing began the transition from F-16 piloted fighters to MQ-9 Reapers, becoming the first fighter squadron conversion to an all-UCAV attack squadron.As of March 2011, the U.S. Air Force was training more pilots for advanced unmanned aerial vehicles than for any other single weapons system.

Then U.S. Air Force (USAF) Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley said, We’ve moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles before Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper.

DevelopmentWith the success of the MQ-1 in combat, General Atomics anticipated the Air Force’s desire for an upgraded aircraft and, using its own funds, set about redesigning Predator.

Prototype Predator B”General Atomics began development of the Reaper with the “Predator B-001, a proof-of-concept aircraft, which first flew on 2 February 2001. The B-001 was powered by an Allied Signal Garrett AiResearch TPE-331-10T turboprop engine with 950 shp (712 kW). It had an airframe that was based on the standard Predator airframe, except with an enlarged fuselage and the wings were lengthened from 48 feet (14.6 m) to 66 feet (20 m). The B-001 had a speed of 220 knots (390 km/h) and could carry a payload of 750 pounds (340 kilograms) to an altitude of 50,000 feet (15.2 kilometers) with an endurance of 30 hours.

The company refined the design, taking it in two separate directions. The first was a jet-powered version; Predator B-002 was fitted with a Williams FJ44-2A turbofan engine with 10.2 kN (2,300 lbf, 1,040 kgf) thrust. It had payload capacity of 475 pounds (215 kilograms), a ceiling of 60,000 feet (18.3 kilometers) and endurance of 12 hours. The U.S. Air Force ordered two airframes for evaluation, delivered in 2007. The first two airframes delivered with prototypes B-001 and B-002 (now in the USAF museum at Wright-Patterson AFB). B-002 was originally equipped with the FJ-44 engine but it was removed and a TPE-331-10T was installed so that the USAF could take delivery of two aircraft in the same configuration.

The second direction the design took was the Predator B-003, referred to by GA as the Altair, which has a new airframe with an 84-foot (25.6 m) wingspan and a takeoff weight of about 7,000 pounds (3,175 kg). Like the Predator B-001, it is powered by a TP-331-10T turboprop. This variant has a payload capacity of 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg), a maximum ceiling of 52,000 feet (15.8 km), and an endurance of 36 hours.

Version for U.S. Air Force
First MQ-9 arrives at Creech AFB, March 2007.In October 2001, the U.S. Air Force signed a contract with GA to purchase an initial pair of Predator B-003s for evaluation, with follow-up orders for production machines. The first test MQ-9s were delivered to the Air Force in 2002. The name Altair did not follow the aircraft into testing, with the Air Force continuing to refer to the system as “Predator B” until it was renamed Reaper (Altair instead became the designation for the unarmed NASA version); this is confusing, however, as the manufacturer uses the term to refer to the smaller B-001 prototype.

Operators, stationed at bases such as Creech Air Force Base, near Las Vegas, can hunt for targets and observe terrain using a number of sensors, including a thermal camera. One estimate has the on-board camera able to read a license plate from two miles (3 km) away. An operator’s command takes 1.2 seconds to reach the drone via a satellite link. The MQ-9 is fitted with six stores pylons. The inner stores pylons can carry a maximum of 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) each and allow carriage of external fuel tanks. The mid-wing stores pylons can carry a maximum of 600 pounds (270 kilograms) each, while the outer stores pylons can carry a maximum of 200 pounds (90 kilograms) each. An MQ-9 with two 1,000 pound (450 kilogram) external fuel tanks and a thousand pounds of munitions has an endurance of 42 hours.

The Reaper has an endurance of 14 hours when fully loaded with munitions. The MQ-9 carries a variety of weapons including the GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb, the AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles, the AIM-9 Sidewinder, and recently, the GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition). Tests are underway to allow for the addition of the AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missile.
The Air Force believes that the Predator B will give the service an improved “deadly persistence” capability, with the RPV flying over a combat area night and day waiting for a target to present itself. In this role an armed RPV neatly complements piloted strike aircraft. A piloted strike aircraft can be used to drop larger quantities of ordnance on a target while a cheaper RPV can be kept in operation almost continuously, with ground controllers working in shifts, carrying a lighter ordnance load to destroy targets. In March, 2011 U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that, while manned aircraft are needed, the Air Force must recognize “the enormous strategic and cultural implications of the vast expansion in remotely piloted vehicles” that already play a major role over Afghanistan and Iraq. “The view still lingers in some corners that, once I depart as secretary and once U.S. forces draw down from Iraq and Afghanistan in accordance with the president’s and NATO’s strategy, things can get back to what some consider to be real Air Force normal, he said. “This must not happen. Even as it buys new manned fighters and bombers, the Air Force must give equal weight to unmanned drones and “the service’s important role in the cyber and space domains.
By October 2007 the U.S. Air Force owned nine Reapers, and by December 2010 owned 57 with plans to buy another 272, for a total buy of 329 Reapers. On 18 May 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a certificate of authorization that allows the MQ-1 and MQ-9 aircraft to fly in U.S. civilian airspace to search for survivors of disasters. Requests had been made in 2005 for the aircraft to be used in search and rescue operations following Hurricane Katrina but, because there was no FAA authorization in place at the time, the planes were not used.

In September 2007, the MQ-9 deployed into Iraq at Balad, the largest U.S. air base in Iraq. On 28 October 2007 the Air Force Times reported an MQ-9 had achieved its first “kill”, firing a Hellfire missile against “Afghanistan insurgents in the Deh Rawood region of the mountainous Oruzgan province. The strike was ‘successful’,” the United States Central Command Air Forces said.

Critics have stated that the USAF’s insistence on qualified pilots flying RPVs is a bottleneck to expanding their deployment. Air Force Major General William Rew stated on 5 August 2008, For the way we fly them right now”—fully integrated into air operations and often flying missions alongside manned aircraft—”we want pilots to fly them. This may be exacerbating losses of Air Force aircraft, in comparison with US Army operations.
The typical MQ-9 system consists of multiple aircraft, ground control station, communications equipment and links, maintenance spares, and military (or contractor) personnel. The crew consists of a pilot and sensor operator. To meet combat requirements, the MQ-9 tailors its capabilities using mission kits of various combinations of weapons and sensors payloads. The Raytheon AN/AAS-52 multi-spectral targeting sensor suite includes a color/monochrome daylight TV, infrared, and image-intensified TV with laser rangefinder/target designator to designate targets for laser guided munitions. The Synthetic Aperture Radar system enables GBU-38 JDAM targeting, is capable of very fine resolution in both spotlight and strip modes, and has ground moving target indicator capability.

DesignThe typical MQ-9 system is composed of multiple aircraft, ground-control stations, satellites, and flight and maintenance crews. The aircraft is powered by a 950 horsepower turboprop, with a maximum speed of about 260 knots (300 miles per hour) and a cruising speed of 150-170 knots. With a 66 foot wingspan, and a maximum payload of 3800 lbs, the MQ-9 can be armed with a variety of weaponry, including Hellfire missiles and 500-lb laser-guided bomb units. The 3200 nm range of the MQ-9, and its 50,000 ft operational altitude, make it especially useful for long-term loitering operations, both for surveillance and support of ground troops.

Operational history U.S. Air Force
MQ-9 Reaper in Afghanistan in 2007On 1 May 2007, the 432d Wing of the U.S. Air Force was activated to operate MQ-9 Reaper as well as MQ-1 Predator UAVs at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. The pilots first flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan in the summer of 2007. In October 2007 the USAF was flying operational missions in Afghanistan.[14] As of 6 March 2008, according to USAF Lieutenant General Gary North, the Reaper has attacked 16 targets in Afghanistan using 500 lb (230 kg) bombs and Hellfire missiles. On 4 February 2008 the MQ-9 dropped a bomb on a truck carrying an insurgent mortar and team near Kandahar.

On 17 July 2008, the Air Force began flying Reaper missions within Iraq from Balad Air Base. It was reported on August 11, 2008 that the 174th Fighter Wing of the USAF will consist entirely of Reapers. By March 2009 the U.S. Air Force had 28 operational Reapers.

On 13 September 2009, an MQ-9 was flying a combat mission over Afghanistan when positive control of the aircraft was lost resulting in the drone flying out of control towards the Afghan border with Tajikistan. An F-15E Strike Eagle was sent to destroy it; the Reaper’s engine was disabled with an AIM-9 missile. The satellite link with the vehicle was restored immediately after, leaving the operator no option other than to steer it into a mountainside along with its ordnance. It was the first time a US drone was destroyed intentionally by allied forces.

Beginning in September 2009, Reapers were deployed by the Africa Command to The Seychelles for use in Indian Ocean anti-piracy patrols.

As of July 2010, 38 Predators and Reapers have been lost during combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, with another 9 crashing during training operations in the U.S. The U.S. Air Force conducted more than 33,000 close-air-support- mission flights in 2010, an increase of more than 20 percent compared with 2009. As of March, 2011, the U.S. Air Force had 48 Predator and Reaper combat air patrols flying in Iraq and Afghanistan compared with 18 in 2007.

As of March, 2011, the U.S. Air Force was training more pilots for advanced unmanned aerial vehicles than for any other single weapons system.
In October 2011 the U.S. Air Force began operating Reapers out of Arba Minch in Ethiopia. It has been reported that these shall be used for surveillance only operations over Somalia.

NASA had initially expressed some interest in a production version of the B-002 turbofan-powered variant,[12] but instead has leased an unarmed version of the Reaper, which carries the GA-ASI company name “Altair”. Altair is one of the first 3 “Predator-B” airframes. The other 2 airframes, known as “Predator-B 001” and “Predator-B 002”, had a maximum gross weight of 7,500 pounds (3,400 kg). Altair differs from these models in that it has an 86-foot (26 m) long wingspan (20 feet greater than early and current MQ-9s). The Altair has enhanced avionics systems to better enable it to fly in FAA-controlled civil airspace and demonstrate “over-the-horizon” command and control capability from a ground station. These aircraft are used by NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise as part of the NASA ERAST Program to perform on-location science missions.

In November 2006, NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center obtained an MQ-9 from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. The aircraft has been named Ikhana and its main goal is the Suborbital Science Program within the Science Mission Directorate. NASA also acquired a ground control station in a mobile trailer. This aircraft was used extensively to survey the Southern California wildfires in 2007. The data was used to deploy firefighters to areas of the highest need.

The California Office of Emergency Services requested NASA support for the Esperanza Fire, and in under 24 hours the General Atomics Altair (NASA variant of the Predator B) was launched on a 16 hour mission to map the perimeter of the fire. The Altair had just returned from a test mission a day before the Esperanza Fire started. The fire mapping research is a joint project with NASA and the US Forest Service.

US Homeland Security
UAV Operators at Joint Base Balad (LSA Anaconda), Iraq, April 20, 2005The United States Department of Homeland Security initially ordered one Reaper for border patrol duty, referred to as MQ-9 CBP-101. It began operations 4 October 2005, but on 25 April 2006, this aircraft crashed in the Arizona desert. The NTSB determined (Record Identification: CHI06MA121) that the cause of the crash was most likely a pilot error by the aircraft’s ground-based pilot in the use of a checklist. During its operational period, the aircraft flew 959 hours on patrol and had a part in 2,309 arrests. It also contributed to the seizure of four vehicles and 8,267 pounds (3,750 kg) of marijuana.[40] Because of these successes, a second Reaper, called CBP-104 (initially referred to as “CBP-102”), was delivered in September 2006, and commenced limited border protection operations on 18 October 2006. The program was further expanded on 16 February 2009, including Canadian border patrols where US officials were concerned about the exploitation of the border by drug smugglers, migrants and terrorists.

The CBP-101 was equipped with the Lynx SAR, AX-15 payload, ARC-210 radios, and other sensors and communications equipment; CBP-104 was enhanced with Ku band satellite command and control link and MTS-A EO/IR sensors.

The President’s FY 2006 Emergency Supplemental budget request added $45 million for the Reaper program, and the FY 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations bill adds an additional $20 million. In October 2006, GA-ASI announced a $33.9 million contract to supply two more Reaper systems by Fall 2007.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has six operational MQ-9s. In 2009, one was based in North Dakota, at the UAS Operations Center in Grand Forks, four in Arizona, at the UAS Operations Center in Sierra Vista and one based at Fort Drum, New York. The aircraft are equipped with GA-ASI’s Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (Lynx SAR info/web page) and Raytheon’s MTS-B ElectroOptical/Infrared sensors.

On 25 April 2006, an MQ-9 operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection crashed near Nogales, Arizona. The pilot, remotely operating the vehicle from Sierra Vista Municipal Airport, reported a momentary lockup of the displays on the primary control console. The pilot switched control to a secondary console, and in doing so inadvertently shut down the vehicle’s engine, causing it to descend out of reach of communications and ultimately crash.

TestbedThe Reaper is being used as a testbed for Gorgon Stare, a wide-area surveillance sensor system.

Non-US use[edit] AustraliaIn September 2006, the General Atomics Mariner demonstrator aircraft was operated by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) in an exercise designed to evaluate the aircraft’s ability to aid in efforts to stem illegal fishing, drug running and illegal immigration. The Mariner operated from RAAF bases Edinburgh, South Australia and Learmonth, Western Australia in conjunction with a Royal Australian Navy Armidale class patrol boat, the Joint Offshore Protection Command and the Pilbara Regiment.

United KingdomOn 27 September 2006, the U.S. Congress was notified by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency that the United Kingdom was seeking to purchase a pair of MQ-9 Reapers. They are operated by No. 39 Squadron RAF from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.[49] A third MQ-9 was in the process of being purchased by the RAF in 2007.[49] In December 2010, the UK Ministry of Defence announced that it would increase its fleet of Reapers to 10.

On 9 November 2007, the UK Ministry of Defence announced that its MQ-9 Reapers had begun operations in Afghanistan against the Taliban. In April 2008, following the crash of one of the UK’s two Reapers, British special forces were sent to recover sensitive material from the wreckage before it was blown up to prevent the enemy from obtaining it.

Germany
Germany has made a request to purchase five Reapers and four ground control stations, plus related support material and training. The request, being made through the Foreign Military Sales process, was presented to Congress through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on 1 August 2008 and is valued at US$205 million. However, Germany did not go through with this procurement for the time being and decided to lease the IAI Heron offered by IAI and Rheinmetall instead, initially for the duration of one year, representing a stop-gap measure before a long-term decision on a MALE-system is being made.
On August 1, 2008, Italy submitted a FMS request through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency for four aircraft, four ground stations and five years of maintenance support, all valued at US$330 million. Italy ordered two more aircraft in November, 2009.

Variants
Naval versionGeneral Atomics designed a naval version of the Reaper, named the “Mariner”, for the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program requirements. The design would have an increased fuel capacity in order to have an endurance of up to 49 hours. Proposed variations on the ultimate design included one designed for carrier operations with folding wings for carrier storage, shorter and more rugged landing gear, an arresting hook, cut-down or eliminated ventral flight surfaces and six stores pylons with a total load of 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms).
The US Customs and Border Protection has ordered a “Maritime Variant” of the MQ-9.”

________

MQ Reaper drone background and history from James Gordon on flickr, where you will find photos, diagrams, and history of this and other UAVs.

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

“Somalia is a counterterrorism planner`s dream … It`s far, far harder to do counterterrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan than in Somalia” (NYT)

Anyone who thinks the US is “surgically striking” only hardcore badguys in Somalia is living in a western corporate media induced dream world. The US is practicing and expanding its use of robot drones, practicing on real people, real lives, real deaths, real maiming. The Somali people have no one to stand up for them, which leaves them open to being abused and experimented on in this way. The US and its proxies, in this case mainly Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi, allege they are representing Somali interests. Yet they are the ones inflicting the most harm on Somalis.

Somalia surrounded by predators as illustrated by talented cartoonist Amin Amir of aminarts.com

Somalia is experiencing a severe famine. It’s government is a creation of the US and the western “international community”, and is so weak that it barely exists. Most members of the government live outside Somalia, hardly a representative government. Listed below is the sort of “aid” the US is providing.

“We’ve moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles before Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper.” (U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley)

Drones: Predator MQ-9 Reaper

There are drone bases in Djibouti, the Seychelles and in Ethiopia, and more are planned. These may not be an HQ, but they are AFRICOM bases in Africa.

What follows is a list of killer drone strikes and drone crashes in Somalia. There are a lot of crashes, Either some drones are being brought down, or they are still an unreliable technology, or both.

December 8 2011: The Iranians captured a US spy drone announced on December 4, and put it on display in Iran on December 8. There is no record of any drone strikes in Somalia since the one below on December 2. I’ll watch to see how this continues.  So far the strikes on Somalia seem to have stopped, or at least paused.   This is also interesting:  US Keeps Losing Control Of Its Drones, regarding another drone that came down in the Seychelles.

Funny how these drones keep experiencing failures in areas where they’re engaging in a covert war …

One of the Air Force’s premier drones crashed Tuesday morning in the Seychelles, the Indian Ocean archipelago that serves as a base for anti-piracy operations, as well as U.S. surveillance missions over Somalia.

Prior to the downing of the spy drone in Iran, these are the drone strikes in Somalia.  These strikes occurred more recently than the original posting date of this article:

US terror drones kill 24 in Somalia Fri Dec 2, 2011

At least 24 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia, near the border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
Abdi Hirsi, a Somali military officer, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Buzar village, which is located close to El Wak city in Somalia’s southwestern region of Gedo, on Friday morning.
He added that dozens of people were also injured in the strikes.

US terror drones kill 11 more in Somalia Thu Dec 1, 2011

At least 11 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Thursday morning.
They added that over 50 people were also injured in the strikes.

US drone raid kills 9 Somali civilians Wed Nov 30, 2011

A US assassination drone attack has killed at least 9 civilians and left 28 others wounded in south Somalia, Press TV reports.
According to witnesses, the terror attack took place near the southern Somali town of Kulbiyow on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, informed sources at the southern border town of Dhobley have confirmed that more than 700 Kenyan forces that had entered Somalia to fight al-Shabab militants are retreating towards the Kenyan territory following threats of retaliation.
Last month, Kenya dispatched soldiers over its border into Somalia to pursue al-Shabab militants, who have been accused of being behind the kidnapping of several foreigners on its territory. Al-Shabab has denied any involvement in such incidents.
Additionally on Sunday, United Nations Political Office for Somalia met with the country’s civil society and rights groups in a bid to solve the decades-long crisis in the war-torn nation.

US terror drone kills 18 in Somalia Mon Nov 28, 2011

A US assassination drone has killed at least 18 al-Shabab militants in southern Somalia, injuring dozens more, Press TV reports.
According to a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) officer, the incident occurred in an al-Shabab training camp in the town of Badade.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Political Office for Somalia has met with the country’s civil society and rights groups in a bid to solve the war-torn nation’s crisis.

Strategically located in the Horn of Africa, Somalia remains among the ones generating the highest number of refugees and internally displaced persons in the world.

US terror drones kill 39 more in Somalia Sun Nov 27, 2011

At least 39 people have been killed after US assassination drones launch aerial attacks on southern Somalia near the Indian Ocean coast, Press TV has reported.
Dozens of others were also injured after the remotely-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles, Somali tribal elders told Press TV on Saturday evening.
The incident took place on the outskirts of Kismayo — a strategically important port city on the Somali coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the country’s capital Mogadishu.

The following strikes were recorded in this original article:

US drone attacks kill 21 in Somalia Fri Nov 25, 2011

At least 21 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Friday morning.
They added that 21 people were killed and scores of others injured in the drone attacks.
The aerial attacks followed US terror drone strikes against the same area on Thursday evening.
Witnesses told Press TV that at least 14 people were killed and 37 others injured in the strikes.

US terror drones kill 14 more in Somalia Fri Nov 25, 2011
This is the Thursday evening Thanksgiving Day strike mentioned above.

At least 14 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Somali tribal elders told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Thursday evening.
They added that 37 people were also injured in the strikes.

This report shows the Israelis are getting in a bit of targeted robot killing practice too.
Israeli terror drones kill 17 in Somalia Thu Nov 24, 2011

At least 17 people have been killed after Israeli assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Somali military officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at the town of Kuda along the coast from Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Thursday morning.
They added that more than 60 others were also injured in the strikes.
Israel has reportedly deployed five unmanned aerial vehicles in a Kenyan military base near the border with neighboring Somalia, and has also passed a considerable amount of heavy weapons to Kenya. The Israeli regime has even sent thirteen trainers to Kenya to provide the Kenyan army with technical training or assistance related to Nairobi’s military operations in war-torn Somalia.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga recently requested Tel Aviv’s assistance in carrying out intensified offensives inside Somalia.
Israeli President Shimon Peres, in response to the request, has vowed to aid Kenya with whatever it needs in its fight against al-Shabab fighters.
Hundreds of families have been fleeing towns in southern Somalia in the wake of Kenyan military’s aerial strikes.
Residents in Kismayo as well as in Buale, Jilib, and Afmadow towns have been leaving their homes over the past weeks for fear of their lives.
Last month, Kenya dispatched soldiers over its border into Somalia to pursue al-Shabab militants, which it accuses of being behind the kidnapping of several foreigners on its territory. Al-Shabab has denied involvement.
Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed has said his UN-backed transitional government was opposed to the military incursion, which is reportedly being contributed to by the US and France.

US drone raid kills 7 in Somalia Wed Nov 23, 2011

A US assassination drone attack has killed at least seven civilians and injured several others in Somalia, Press TV reports.
The US drone carried out the assassination attacks Wednesday morning in Hiiraan region near Kalaberka of central Somalia.
The US has expanded the number of its aerial assassination attacks by unmanned remote-controlled aircraft in Somalia. Consequently, many civilians have fallen victim to the non-UN-sanctioned assaults.

US spy drone crashes in Somalia Mon Nov 21, 2011

An American remote-controlled reconnaissance drone went down on the outskirts of Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Monday.
Local residents said that they heard a massive explosion after the aircraft crashed and caught fire.
They added that that the remains of the spy drone were collected by al-Shabab fighters.

US terror drone kills 25 Somalis Sun Nov 20, 2011

The attack took place near Bardera city in the southern Gedo region of the African nation, leaving many others injured.
The incident follows an attack last night, which also left at least 18 others dead and tens of others wounded between Kismayo and Afmadow

US terror drones kill 46 more in Somalia Fri Nov 18, 2011

Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles on the outskirts of Afmadow city, which is situated in the middle of the Juba region and 620 kilometers (385 miles) south of Mogadishu, on Friday.
They said that 15 people were killed and several others wounded in the strikes.
The aerial attacks came as US assassination drones had struck Balanbale district in Somalia’s central region of Galguduud earlier in the day.

US terror drones kill 13 in south Somalia Thu Nov 17, 2011

Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Buzar village, which is located close to El Wak city in Somalia’s southwestern region of Gedo, on Thursday.
They added that dozens of people were also injured in the strikes.
The aerial attacks came as US assassination drones had struck Buzar village a day earlier. At least 26 people were killed and dozens more were also wounded in Wednesday’s drone attacks.

US drone crashes in central Somalia Thu Nov 17, 2011

The remote-controlled aerial vehicle went down on the outskirts of Feer town, which is located in Somalia’s central region of Middle Shabelle, on Thursday.
A Somali military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Press TV that 15 people were injured in the incident.
Local residents also said that they heard a massive explosion after the aircraft crashed and caught fire

US terror drones kill 35 more in Somalia Wed Nov 16, 2011

A Somali military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles struck the outskirts of Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Wednesday morning.
He added that dozens of people were also injured in the attacks

US drone strike kills 17 in Somalia Tue Nov 15, 2011

The attack occurred in a civilian region near the town of Dhobley in southern Somalia on Tuesday.

US terror drones kill 36 more in Somalia Sat Nov 12, 2011.

At least 36 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Somali tribal elders, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Haawina village, which is located in the Lower Juba region of southern Somalia, on Saturday evening.
dozens of people were also injured in the attacks, the tribal elders added.
Somalia is the sixth country where the United States has used assassination drones.
The US military has also used drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and Yemen.
On October 28, the United States admitted to flying the terror aircraft from a base in Ethiopia.

US terror drones kill 146 in two days Fri Nov 11, 2011

Seventy-nine more people have been killed in US assassination drone attacks in southern Somalia, bringing the death toll to 146 over the past two days, Press TV reported.
The US military launched terror drone attacks on Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Friday. At least 79 people were killed and several others were injured in the strikes.
The aerial attacks followed US terror drone strikes against Afmadow city, which is situated in the middle of the Juba region and 620 kilometers (385 miles) south of Mogadishu.
Witnesses told Press TV that at least 29 people were killed and 43 others were also injured in the aerial assassination attacks.
Meanwhile, at least 38 people were killed and over 66 others were wounded after US remote-controlled terror drones launched attacks on Tabataa town, which is located in the southern Lower Juba region of Somalia.

2 US terror drones crash in Somalia Fri Nov 11, 2011

Two US military assassination drones have crashed separately in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
One of the American remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles went down on the outskirts of Dhoobley town, situated 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Kenyan border and about 500 kilometers (312 miles) southwest of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, on Thursday.
Local residents said that they heard a massive explosion after the aircraft crashed and caught fire.
Later in the day, another US terror drone reportedly crashed near Dhoobley town. Locals said they had witnessed the aircraft crashing in outskirts of the town.

US terror drone raid kills 6 in Somalia Wed Nov 9, 2011

A US assassination drone attack has killed at least six civilians and injured several others in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.
The terror drone raid was carried out Wednesday morning near Kismayo in southern Somalia, leaving six people dead and 70 women and girls that were fleeing the area toward Kismayo wounded.
The US has expanded the number of its aerial assassination attacks by unmanned remote-controlled aircraft in Somalia, which is suffering a disastrous famine.
Consequently, many civilians have fallen victim to the non-UN-sanctioned assassination assaults.

US, Kenya airstrikes kill 64 in Somalia Sun Nov 6, 2011

US assassination drone attacks and Kenya airstrikes have claimed the lives of at least 64 people in southern Somalia, as violence continues to intensify in the war-torn African nation, Press TV reports.
A US drone strike killed at least 29 civilians near the town of Hoosingow in Jubbada Hoose district, while Kenya jet fighters bombed an area near the town of Afmadow, killing at least 35 al-Shabab fighters.
Witnesses say dozens of civilians were injured in both attacks.
The incident comes hours after an earlier US assassination drone attack on the town of Kuda along the coast of Kismayo, which left at least 24 Somalis dead.
The US has deployed bombing and intelligence drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. Washington claims the airstrikes target militants, though most such attacks have resulted in civilian casualties.
These attacks are authorized by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Meanwhile, tension has been growing between the Somali government backed by Kenyan troops and al-Shabab fighters since they engaged in fierce battle over control of towns in south Somalia.

US terror drones kill 24 more in Somalia Sun Nov 6, 2011

At least 24 Somalis have been killed in a US assassination drone attack near the country’s border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
The remotely-controlled drones launched an aerial attack on the town of Kuda along the coast of Kismayo, a strategically-important port city located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu on Saturday evening.
The attack followed two similar US assassination strikes against Bardera city and Burdhubo town in the southern Gedo region. At least 75 people were killed and over 80 others wounded in the two strikes.

US drone attacks kill dozens in Somalia Sat Nov 5, 2011

Two US assassination drone attacks have left at least 75 people dead and about 80 others wounded in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.
The first strike happened in the southern city of Bardera on Saturday, killing nearly 45 people, witnesses said.
In the second attack, more than 30 people were killed in Burdhubo town, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Nearly 80 civilians were also injured in the attacks.
Hundreds of Somali troops entered Bardera city following the US assassination drone strike.

US terror drones kill 38 more Somalis Thu Nov 3, 2011

At least 38 Somali civilians have been killed in a US assassination drone attack near the country’s border with Ethiopia, Press TV reports.
Two US terror drones carried out airstrikes in Qeydar and Marodile towns near Somalia-Ethiopia borders on Wednesday, killing 38 people and injuring 74 others.
The aerial attacks come few days after the prominent US daily Washington Post revealed in a report that the US flies “armed” drones from a secret airfield in Ethiopia’s southern city of Arba Minch.
The US Air Force has spent millions of dollars to improve the airfield in Ethiopia to accommodate a fleet of Reaper drones that carry Hellfire missiles and precision-guided bombs, the report said.
A day after the report was published, the Americans admitted to flying unmanned aerial vehicles from Ethiopia, claiming that the assassination drones merely conduct surveillance missions in the Horn of Africa.
Although the United States has tried to downplay its military and intelligence presence in the Horn of Africa region, the US military has carried out numerous terror drone strikes in Somalia in the past few months, killing hundreds of people, most of them civilians.
Somalia is the sixth country where the US military has engaged in unauthorized aerial bombing campaigns through the use of its remote-controlled aircraft.
The United States has also deployed its assassination drones for aerial attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and Yemen.
Washington claims the airstrikes target anti-American militants, though a far greater number of victims of such attacks have been civilians.

US terror drones kill 41 more in Somalia Thu Nov 3, 2011

At least 41 people have been killed in a US assassination drone attack near the country’s border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
The US remote-controlled drones launched an aerial attack on the outskirts of Hoomboy town, which is situated in Somalia’s southern region of the Middle Juba.
The aerial attack followed a US assassination strike against Jamame town in Somalia’s southern Jubbada Hoose region earlier on Thursday. At least 28 people were killed and dozens more were wounded.

US drone attack kills 28 in south Somalia Thu Nov 3, 2011

At least 28 people have been killed after US remote-controlled drones launched an aerial attack in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Witnesses told Press TV that the unmanned aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Jamame town, which is situated in Somalia’s southern region of Jubbada Hoose.
They added that dozens more people were also injured in the strike.

US drone strikes kill 38 in Somalia Wed Nov 2, 2011

At least 38 people have been killed after US remote-controlled drones launched aerial attacks in central Somalia near the border with Ethiopia, Press TV reported.
Witnesses told Press TV that the unmanned aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Qeydar and Marodile villages, which are situated between Guriceel and Balanbale districts in Somalia’s central region of Galguduud.
Somali tribal elders said that more than 74 people were also injured in the strikes.
Earlier in the day, 20 people were killed and 60 others were injured after a US drone struck the outskirts of Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu.
Somalia is the sixth country where the United States has used remote-controlled drone aircraft to launch deadly missile strikes.

US drone strikes kill 38 in Somalia Wed Nov 2, 2011

At least 38 people have been killed after US remote-controlled drones launched aerial attacks in central Somalia near the border with Ethiopia, Press TV reported.
Witnesses told Press TV that the unmanned aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Qeydar and Marodile villages, which are situated between Guriceel and Balanbale districts in Somalia’s central region of Galguduud.
Somali tribal elders said that more than 74 people were also injured in the strikes.
Earlier in the day, 20 people were killed and 60 others were injured after a US drone struck the outskirts of Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu.

US drone attack kill 20 Somalis Wed Nov 2, 2011

A US drone attack has killed 20 civilians and injured 60 others in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.
The US assassination drone carried out the attacks on Wednesday morning on the outskirts of Kismayo city, leaving 20 people dead and 60 others, mostly women and children, injured.
Somali security sources have also told Press TV that another drone attack in Kismayo killed dozens of al-Shabab fighters.

US drone strike kills eight in Somalia Tue Nov 1, 2011

At least eight people have been killed and several others have been wounded in a US assassination drone attack in Somalia, Press TV reports.
Witnesses said the strike happened in Mussa Haji district of south Kismayo town on Tuesday, a Press TV correspondent said.

US drone kills 28 in south Somalia Sun Oct 30, 2011

Another attack by a US assassination drone has claimed the lives of at least 28 civilians, while injuring dozens of others in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.
The incident took place in the town of Gilib, 350 kilometers south of Mogadishu, a Press TV correspondent reported on Sunday.
Meanwhile, other US drones also crashed near the Balet Weyne Town in Hiiraan. Further details have not been released yet.

US terror drone kills 21 in Somalia Sun Oct 30, 2011

A US assassination drone attack has killed at least 21 civilians and injured several others in southern Somalia, Press TVreports.
The US drone carried out attacks Sunday morning near Kismayo city in southern Somalia, leaving 21 people dead and 67 others wounded.

US drone crashes in south Somalia. Sun Oct 30, 2011

An unmanned aerial vehicle operated by the US military has crashed in southern Somalia near the Horn of African country’s border with Kenya, Press TV has reported.
The remotely-controlled aircraft went down on the outskirts of Kalaberka town, which is located in Somalia’s south-central region of Hiiran, on Saturday.
Local residents said that they heard a massive explosion after the aircraft crashed and caught fire.
Earlier on Saturday, 16 civilians were killed and 19 others injured after one such drone fired several missiles at Kulbiyow village in the Lower Juba region in the south of the country.

US drone strike kills 49 in Somalia Sat Oct 22, 2011

An unmanned US drone strike has killed at least 49 people in famine-stricken in southern Somalia, while injuring at least 68 others, Press TV reported.
According to Somali military officials, the attack took place near the town of Bilis Qooqani hours ago, a Press TV correspondent reported on Saturday.
Washington claims the airstrikes target militants, though most such attacks have resulted in civilian casualties in Somalia.
The developments come as witnesses say hundreds of Somali families are fleeing from the troubled area.
Drone strikes in Somalia make the lawless state the sixth country where the US military has used remote-controlled aircraft to conduct such lethal strikes.

US strike kills 11 civilians in Somalia Sat Oct 22, 2011

The Saturday attack took place near Hoosingow district in the south of the country, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Meanwhile, another US drone also crashed near Bilis Qooqani town located in the south of the country, leaving three people injured.

Two US drones crash in south Somalia Sat Oct 22, 2011

A Somali military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled drones went down in close proximity to Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of Mogadishu, late on Saturday.
He added that he heard massive explosions after the aircraft crashed and caught fire.
Earlier in the day, 49 people were killed and 68 others were injured after a US drone fired several missiles that landed on the outskirts of Bilis Qooqaani town

US drone attacks kill 26 in Somalia Thu Oct 20, 2011

Somali military officers said a US drone carried out attacks Thursday morning near the Taabto and Bilis Qooqani districts in southern Somalia, resulting in the casualties.
Meanwhile, Somali troops have said that they have collected the remains of two US drones that crashed near Bilis Qooqani within the last 24 hours.
On Wednesday, at least 46 people were killed after a US drone struck a city in southern Somalia near the Kenyan border.
The unmanned aircraft fired several missiles into the outskirts of Kismayo, a port and capital of the Lower Juba region located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
Thousands of local residents are fleeing Kismayo city in face of the American UAV attacks, as the Somali people are already struggling with famine in their country.
Earlier on Wednesday, 18 civilians were killed and 37 others wounded in another US drone strike on Musa Haji district in southern Somalia.

27 Somalis killed in US drone strike Mon Oct 17, 2011

Dozens of civilians were also injured after an American strike on the port town of Kismayo, about 500 kilometers south of the Somali capital Mogadishu on Monday, witnesses told Press TV.
A similar airstrike killed over a dozen people in another southern region on Saturday.

Two US drones crash in south Somalia Wed Oct 12, 2011

Two unmanned aerial vehicles operated by the US military have crashed in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
A Somali government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the American remote-controlled drones went down in close proximity to Dhoobley town, situated 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Kenyan border and about 500 kilometers (312 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, late on Tuesday.
He added that the remains of the aircraft were retrieved by Somali government forces.

Three US drones crash in Somalia Sun Oct 9, 2011

Three unmanned US drones have crashed in the southern region of Somalia

h/t Pruning Shears who found and has been listing these reports from Press TV.

Whether we want more drones and more people killed by drones is becoming irrelevant. The CIA has promised and created a drone hunter killer career track. So drone killing will only continue and expand. People are being maimed and killed to feed the growing bureaucracy and the corporate drone manufacturers. Since Somalia is a counterterrorism planners dream, the people of Somalia will continue to pay for this program with their lives. US taxpayers will continue to pay in dollars in order to rain torture and death on Somali families.

Whether hunter-killer drones are effective or necessary is not what is driving their expanded use.

CIA’s Push for Drone War Driven by Internal Needs

[The CIA’s] mission has changed in recent years from gathering and analysing intelligence to waging military campaigns through drone strikes in Pakistan, as well as in Yemen and Somalia.

… CIA Director Michael Hayden lobbied hard for that expansion at a time when drone strikes seemed like a failed experiment.

The reason Hayden pushed for a much bigger drone war, it now appears, is that it [the CIA] had already created a whole bureaucracy in the anticipation of such a war.

The shift in the CIA mission’s has been reflected in the spectacular growth of its Counter-terrorism Center (CTC) from 300 employees in September 2001 to about 2,000 people today – 10 percent of the agency’s entire workforce, according to the Post report.


… In 2005, the agency had created a career track in targeting for the drone programme for analysts in the intelligence directorate, the Sep. 2 Post article revealed.

That decision meant that analysts who chose to specialise in targeting for CIA drone operations were promised that they could stay within that specialty and get promotions throughout their careers. Thus the agency had made far-reaching commitments to its own staff in the expectation that the drone war would grow far beyond the three strikes a year and that it would continue indefinitely.

By 2007, the agency realised that, in order to keep those commitments, it had to get the White House to change the rules by relaxing existing restrictions on drone strikes.

That’s when Hayden began lobbying President George W. Bush to dispense with the constraints limiting the targeting for drone attacks, according to the account in New York Times reporter David Sanger’s book “The Inheritance”. Hayden asked for permission to carry out strikes against houses or cars merely on the basis of behaviour that matched a “pattern of life” associated with Al-Qaeda or other groups.

… Leon Panetta, Obama’s new CIA director, was firmly committed to the drone war. He continued to present it to the public as a strategy to destroy Al-Qaeda, even though he knew the CIA was now striking mainly Afghan Taliban and their allies, not Al-Qaeda.

In his first press conference on Feb. 25, 2009, Panetta, in an indirect but obvious reference to the drone strikes, said that the effort to destabilise Al-Qaeda and destroy its leadership “have been successful”.

Under Panetta, the rate of drone strikes continued throughout 2009 at the same accelerated pace as in the second half of 2008. And in 2010 the number of strikes more than doubled from 53 in 2009 to 118.

The CIA finally had the major drone campaign it had originally anticipated.

Two years ago, Petraeus appeared to take a somewhat skeptical view of drone strikes in Pakistan. In a secret assessment as CENTCOM commander on May 27, 2009, which was leaked to the Washington Post, Petraeus warned that drone strikes were fueling anti-U.S. sentiments in Pakistan.

Now, however, Petraeus’s personal view of the drone war may no longer be relevant. The CIA’s institutional interests in continuing the drone war may have become so commanding that no director could afford to override those interests on the basis of his own analysis of how the drone strikes affect U.S. interests.

If the US were actually practicing counter terrorism, it might try to avoid giving people so many reasons to become terrorists.

For more discussion of drones and the legalities involved, see my earlier post: Political Assassin Robots Flying In African Skies

For background on the base in the Seychelles see Building A US Military Base In The Seychelles

Why is Obama sending troops to Uganda?

“Uganda’s proximity to the new country of South Sudan is key in the whole equation. … this whole area is prime real estate where the fierce battle between China and the Americans/Europeans plays out, centered on oil and minerals, all part of the Great 21st Century African Resource War.

… Uganda – and nearby eastern Congo – happens to hold fabulous quantities of, among others, diamonds, gold, platinum, copper, cobalt, tin, phosphates, tantalite, magnetite, uranium, iron ore, gypsum, beryllium, bismuth, chromium, lead, lithium, niobium and nickel. …

Uganda may hold … part of a recent, largest-ever on-shore oil discovery in sub-Saharan Africa. …Washington wants to make sure that all this oil will be exclusively available for the US and Europe.

The Obama administration insists the 100 special forces will be “advisers” – not combat troops. Think of Vietnam in the early 1960s; it started with “advisers” – and the rest is history.”

In fact US military trainers and advisors in Uganda is nothing new. They have been there partnering with Museveni and the UPDF since AFRICOM was formed and before. Below is one picture from 2009, and two from earlier this year, 2011. In October 2010, a year ago, AFRICOM asked for bids for non-personnel services to build a Special Ops base camp in Uganda (google cached version link) in an “austere environment”. The intention to send US soldiers to Uganda did not just happen, it has been underway for a number of years.

Whether or not they catch Kony, it will be a handy bit of on the job training for continued operations in Uganda, South Sudan, and the DRC. For civilians living in the region this escalates the threat of violence they face every day. Every attempt to capture or kill Kony has failed, and led to murderous rampages.

The most grievous and pervasive threat of terrorism in Africa is the threat to African civilians from their own militaries. The militarized US foreign policy, employing military training and partnering, makes this threat exponentially worse.

CAMP KASENYI, Uganda – Staff Sergeant Andre Amantine of the 2-18 Field Artillery Regiment out of Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, salutes Sergeant First Class Cary Adams-course Sergeant Major, during a 15-week Counter Terrorism Course, 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)

SOROTI, Uganda – Uganda People’s Defence Forces soldiers from the 27th Infantry Battalion train on setting up a drop zone with U.S. soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, Georgia National Guard, at Drop Zone Red near Kapelebyong, Uganda, during Atlas Drop 11, April 14, 2011. (U.S. Army photo by Sergeant 1st Class Brock Jones)

ENTEBBE, Uganda - Petty Officer 2nd Class Chad Drake, right, participates in platoon movement exercises, June 6, 2011, while members of the Ugandan People's Defence Force observe and give direction during an Advanced Combat Training course in Jinja. Drake visited four countries in the Horn of Africa with other cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy to participate in a cultural and military exchange to share best practices and understand regional affairs. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Wilson)

Pepe Escobar, quoted above, provides a comprehensive summary:

Obama, the king of Africa

“Anyone may be excused to see Uganda as Libya upside down – because that’s exactly what it is; the dictator in this case gets a good guy billing – one of “our bastards” – while the “rebels” have a pact with the devil. But is that all there is?

I got an urge to surge
The reality in Uganda is an absolute, murderous mess. As much as the LRA “rebels”, Museveni’s government (helped by Washington) has also perpetrated horrendous massacres against civilians. Kony may even be an amateur compared to Museveni – a sort of dictator for life who has just supervised the displacement and mass murder of at least 20,000 Ugandans on behalf of British corporations. Additionally, Museveni basically stole the Ugandan elections early this year.

Obama’s Uganda surge should be seen as a crucial exchange of favors with Museveni – who has sent thousands of Ugandan troops to the African Union (AU) force that is fighting the hardcore Islamist al-Shabaab in Somalia. So while Uganda fights a proxy war for the US in Somalia, Washington helps the dictator to get rid of the LRA “rebels”. No wonder the Pentagon is quite fond of Uganda; Museveni recently got $45 million in equipment, including four small drones.

The LRA – a ragged bunch of hardcore Christian fundamentalists – is based in northern Uganda but spread out between four countries, including the new South Sudan and Congo, in Central Africa. They carry no heavy weapons. They don’t stand a chance of destabilizing the Ugandan government – much less being a “national security” threat to the US. Bogeyman Kony may be in hiding somewhere along the immense Sudan-Congo border, with no more than 400 warriors left.

Uganda’s proximity to the new country of South Sudan is key in the whole equation. So far, for Northern Sudan the LRA has been a convenient, weaponized firewall against Western puppet Museveni. But most of all, this whole area is prime real estate where the fierce battle between China and the Americans/Europeans plays out, centered on oil and minerals, all part of the Great 21st Century African Resource War.

Any student of realpolitik knows the US doesn’t do “humanitarian” interventions per se. Africom’s surge parallels the real name of the game; precious minerals – and mining. Uganda – and nearby eastern Congo – happens to hold fabulous quantities of, among others, diamonds, gold, platinum, copper, cobalt, tin, phosphates, tantalite, magnetite, uranium, iron ore, gypsum, beryllium, bismuth, chromium, lead, lithium, niobium and nickel. Many among these are ultra-precious rare earth – of which China exercises a virtual monopoly.

The mineral rush in Africa is already one of the great resource wars of the 21st century.China is ahead, followed by companies from India, Australia, South Africa and Russia (which, for instance, has set up a fresh gold refinery in Kampala). The West is lagging behind. The name of the game for the US and the Europeans is to pull no punches to undermine China’s myriad commercial deals all across Africa.

Then there’s the inescapable Pipelineistan angle. Uganda may hold “several billion barrels of oil”, according to Heritage Oil’s Paul Atherton, part of a recent, largest-ever on-shore oil discovery in sub-Saharan Africa. That implies the construction of a $1.5 billion, 1,200 kilometer long pipeline to Kampala and the coast of Kenya. Then there’s another pipeline from “liberated” South Sudan. Washington wants to make sure that all this oil will be exclusively available for the US and Europe.

Obama, the King of Africa
The Obama administration insists the 100 special forces will be “advisers” – not combat troops. Think of Vietnam in the early 1960s; it started with “advisers” – and the rest is history. Now, the “advisers” are even expected to fan out from Uganda to South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And it’s not even the first time this happens. George W Bush tried the same thing in 2008. It ended in unmitigated disaster because of – what else is new – corruption inside the Ugandan army. Kony was tipped off and escaped hours before an attack on his camp.

The official Washington spin hammers the fact that the LRA has “murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children”. Now compare it … to the thunderous silence of the Obama White House as racist eastern Libya “rebels” round up, harass, torture and even snuff out sub-Saharan Africans.

Africa has been fighting like forever against multiple strands of the great white genocidal slave master, aided and abetted by multiple strands of the subservient black dictator/kleptocrat – just to be presented in the early 21st century with an American president of direct African descent who has nothing better to offer than special forces, drones, a militarization surge and hypocrisy-laced “humanitarian” intervention.”

Escobar points out that Museveni’s UPDF has been responsible for a multitude of deaths, violence, and brutalities against Ugandans. As Escobar says, it is Libya upside down, this time the US supports the brutal dictator against the so called rebels. In addition to brutalities in Uganda, Museveni and Ugandan sponsored militias share responsibility for brutal war crimes in the Congo.

 

 

 

P. Okema Otika writes about Museveni’s crimes against Ugandans. 
Museveni and Kony Both Should Face War Crimes Tribunal

“To anyone who is unfamiliar with the war in Northern Uganda that started in 1986 when Museveni had just come to power, Museveni’s quest to prosecute Kony might sound like a sound idea coming from a responsible person. However, to those who have suffered through the years and experienced atrocities perpetrated by both the rebels and the Ugandan army, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), Museveni is just as criminal as the Kony he is trying to prosecute.

Since 1986, Museveni’s army has been known to commit some of the worst atrocities on the ethnic Acholi people who occupy the regions of Gulu, Kitgum and Pader. The UPDF, also formerly known as the National Resistance Army (NRA) became infamous for burning civilians alive in huts, killings, and the rapes of both women and men in what the Acholi called tek gungu. Tek Gungu referred to rape of men and women by Museveni’s soldiers who would force a man or woman to kneel down (gungu) before the rape is committed against the male or female victim. These rape incidents have been documented by Human Rights Watch and yet remain ignored by most so-called mainstream media. Museveni, despite his army’s atrocities remains a Western “darling.”

By 1990, Museveni had accomplished most of what he wanted; leaving tens of thousands of Acholi dead and thousands languishing in Luzira prison for alleged treason. All these are well documented and still remain fresh in the minds of the Acholi who had trusted Museveni and thought he would treat them as citizens of Uganda rather than his adversaries.

As if his terror was not enough, in 1996 Museveni declared a presidential order that stipulated that all local Acholi living in their homes in the villages be forcefully moved into concentration camps to be surrounded by government troops ostensibly to guard them against LRA rebels’ atrocities. Where else in the world but in Africa would the international community today stand for such gross violation of human rights?

Museveni’s troops immediately started beating up locals to run to the camps. They burnt down crops and houses of the locals so that they would not go back to their homes. The result was the creation of communal homelessness for over 500,000 people who up to now have no permanent home, and live in some of the worse human conditions in the world. Although Museveni prefers to call the camps “Protected Camps,” the locals who live there know it as a concentration camp in which terror reigns and individual freedoms don’t exist.

Government soldiers claiming to be guarding these camps are well known for their atrocities on the hapless civilians.They rape the women and have contributed to the increase in the rate of HIV/AIDS — now the highest in that region.

These are just few recorded incidents and yet the majority remained unreported. Similarly, the government is indiscriminately using its Helicopter Gunship and night-guided vision technology to try to spot and kill the LRA rebels. However, the majority of the unfortunate victims are innocent civilians.”

It needs to be repeated, the most grievous and pervasive threat of terrorism in Africa is the threat to African civilians from their own militaries.

Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire provides additional Ugandan perspective. She tells us both the CAR and DRC have asked Uganda’s UPDF to leave their countries. I am curious how that fits in with the renewed military initiative coming from the United States. The US has entered into agreements regarding the search for Kony with South Sudan, the CAR and the DRC.

Obama’s troops in Central Africa to fight LRA; will they deliver?

“Many Ugandans, through various social networks, have expressed skepticism over the 100 combat troops the US deployed to Uganda

The CAR government in December 2010 had asked the UPDF to leave but they are still present in one area. A friend who works in CAR once told me that when they were asking CAR civilians which militia groups are involved in the conflict, some wrote UPDF. This is because the ordinary people on the ground just see people in UPDF uniforms and have no clue who they are and what they are there to do.

The DRC government asked UPDF to leave, at first by May this year but later asked for a calendar showing their withdrawal. I have not heard of the details of this withdraw plan. In some incidents the Congolese Army, which has its own structural problems had clashes with UPDF in DRC which were largely unreported in the media.

One UPDF soldier who has been based in CAR told me early this year that fighting LRA was very difficult because “you have to do surveillance on a jungle bigger than the size of Uganda.”

A researcher in one of the few agencies that still work in Dungu told me that because of the wide area of operation of LRA we must recognize that “military intelligence is more important that military power. Aerial surveillance and ‘human’ intelligence is crucial” if LRA is to be dealt with. And as far we have seen over the years all the four government involved in the fight for LRA have not shown us they are capable of doing the needed surveillance work.

So the question is will this US deployment deliver?

What can 100 combat troops do? Will they deliver several other botched attacks or will they help end the conflict? Well at the end of the day, regional governments must be more willing and give LRA more attention than they have done in the last three years. DRC, South Sudan and CAR must work faster to pacify the lawless regions that have made it easy for LRA to operate for this long. Also the past has shown that focusing only on military intervention will not easily bring back rebels who were forced to carry out all these crimes in the first place.

Those who worry about foreign intervention must equally worry about the deaths and human rights violations that millions of people in the three countries face daily.

The worry is not that the Americans are here -because they have been here for some time. The question is, are they capable of delivering in a short time without staying in the region too long. If the American forces stay in the region too long this will have implications as the suspicions about their interest in oil in Uganda, South Sudan and DRC is already ripe.”

I have written about the Botched raid at the end of 2008 in greater detail: Stability operations cause 900 civilian deaths, 100,000 displaced, miss target. There was an earlier attempt to get Kony with US backing:

Hard Target

“The hunt for joseph kony has been marked by one spectacular failure after another. In 2006, in an unprecedented move, the United Nations mounted a covert operation to capture or kill him. A squad of U.S.-trained Guatemalan Special Ops soldiers set out into Congo’s Garamba National Park, a longtime LRA refuge and the scene of last year’s Operation Lightning Thunder. Trained in jungle warfare and accustomed to surviving in the bush for long stretches, the Guatemalans were equipped with M-16s and the latest special-operations technology. But they were no match for Kony and his child warriors. Makassa recalls the day the Guatemalans appeared. He had left Garamba park briefly to pick up food and supplies in southern Sudan, just across the border. On his way back he got a call: “The situation is bad. Unknown soldiers came to fight us. Hurry up and help us.” The caller described the unknown soldiers as muzungu—a Swahili word meaning “white man.”

By the time Makassa reached the scene, the battle was over. Five LRA soldiers had been killed. But not one of the Guatemalans had survived. The LRA fighters slaughtered them all and, according to one account, beheaded the commander. Some reports put the U.N. dead at eight; others say as many as 40 counterinsurgency troops may have died that morning. The LRA left the corpses in the jungle but took the weapons—including heavy machine guns and grenade launchers.

Kony was in southern Sudan at the time, far from the battle. Makassa called him with the news. “Kony was very happy,” Makassa recalls. “Kony likes fighting, he likes war.'”

DefenseTech writes: U.S. Sending “Combat Equipped” Troops to Africa

“In addition to Uganda, U.S. forces have permission from South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to operate on their territory while helping to hunt down the LRA.

The troops are likely special operations forces and their low numbers reflect the U.S.’ desire to avoid the appearance of neo-colonialism on the continent. The Pentagon routinely deploys forces to Africa to train local militaries … They’re usually sent in small numbers and are special ops troops, often dressed as civilians, who are trained in local languages and customs. Don’t forget all the combat equipped troops who live at Camp Lemonier, in Djibouti. Still, it’s very rare to hear about U.S. forces actively hunting bad guys in Africa. Even when we go after pirates and terrorists in Somalia we usually do it with AC-130 gunships and UAVs. If Americans to hit the ground its usually for the few minutes or hours it takes to kill or capture one of these guys.

In this case, the troops will be directly assisting with a manhunt despite the fact that the White House says they won’t be “engaging” in combat with LRA forces, unless of course, the LRA forces shoot first.”

From military.com news: US Sending Troops to Africa to Battle Insurgency

“The deployment drew support from Sen. James Inhofe, a Republican who has visited the region.

“I have witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by the LRA, and this will help end Kony’s heinous acts that have created a human rights crisis in Africa,” he said in a statement. “I have been fervently involved in trying to prevent further abductions and murders of Ugandan children, and today’s action offers hope that the end of the LRA is in sight.”

But Obama’s letter stressed the limited nature of the deployment.

“Our forces will provide information, advice and assistance to select partner nation forces,” it said. “Although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will … not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.”

In the comments sgtjmackinjersey writes about how Kony and the LRA really don’t have a political agenda:

“sgtjmackinjersey Oct 15, 2011 12:54:41 AM

… Robert Gersony, in a report funded by United States Embassy in Kampala in 1997, concluded that “the LRA has no political program or ideology, at least none that the local population has heard or can understand.”[31] The International Crisis Group has stated that “the LRA is not motivated by any identifiable political agenda, and its military strategy and tactics reflect this.”[32] IRIN comments that “the LRA remains one of the least understood rebel movements in the world, and its ideology, as far as it has one, is difficult to understand.”[26] UPDF Lt. Col. Shaban Bantariza has said that “you can’t tell whether they want political power. Its only aim is to terrorize and brutalize the civilian population and to loot their homes.””

James Inhofe has been one of the primary enablers of Museveni’s military excesses. As a senator, Inhofe is responsible for the US giving Museveni the dictator enormous amounts of US taxpayer money. Inhofe is a member of the religious cult The Family, which preaches, among other unchristian and undemocratic ideas, that men in positions of power are powerful because God wants them to have power. In other words, might makes right. Might makes right also appears to be the driving ideology of US foreign policy these days, perhaps the Obama doctrine at home and abroad.

AFRICOM has been wooing African journalists from a number of countries. It invited a number of Ugandan journalists to Stuttgart where General Hamm gave this interview which discussed Somalia and the issue of Kony and the LRA.

From Uganda’s Daily Monitor, and interview with General Hamm by Gerald Bareebe.

“After the passage of counter LRA legislation by the US Congress, the US has been helping UPDF with intelligence information regarding the whereabouts of Joseph Kony. How far have you gone with the hunt for Kony?

It’s not going as well as we hope it should be. There are some small successes but there are also some setbacks. So we have a lot of work yet to do in this regard. As you know, this is a hunt for one man with a small number of his followers in a very extensive geographic area. So it’s kind of tough.

It requires very precise information which can be provided by people from his area of operation or from his camp. Ugandans, the Congolese and others may be able to capture him, though the process may be longer than we may want. The US is committed to this because of the horrific atrocities Kony and his groups have committed.

I am encouraged by the commitment of Uganda and Congo to end this. The US role is to be supportive to the three primary countries involved in this and will facilitate the sharing of information by the parties. The USA will not have a leading role on the ground. Uganda, DRC, CAR and South Sudan have recognised that USA will support them to do this.

We have been training a battalion in Eastern Congo for this. It’s a very important mission for us. But we see the US doing a supporting role than a leading role. In my personal view, Kony cannot be brought to justice faster enough.

If anybody had a doubt that there is a real evil in our world, all they have to do is to look at what Joseph Kony has done and they will find out that evil exists in the name of Joseph Kony. The most important thing is that Kony has to be stopped. The preferred way to do this is to capture him and bring him to justice. There are those who would say that he should be killed. In my view he should be captured and be brought to justice but, if in the pursuit of that he is killed, I am not one who would shed many tears.”

I doubt General Hamm will shed any tears for the civilians killed either. They are just unfortunate collateral damage. The US is partnering with people who have caused enormous suffering in the region.  All the military organizations included are implicated in war crimes, particularly in the eastern Congo.  There is no reason to suppose things will improve.  There is no accountability built in to this action.   Kony is said to have made some friends in the region. There is also corruption always present. In 2008 Kony was tipped off by someone who knew about Operation Lightning Thunder.

And from comment #6 at MoA by b real

“public announcements like this cover operations already in progress that will eventually draw media attention at some point, esp considering uganda’s burgeoning oil industry. considering the last u.s. effort to kill kony failed so spectacularly, the military is re-adapting its existing policies of majority reliance on proxy, surrogate & merc forces in pursuing its own interests across africa. whereas only a handful of boots on the ground to assist in operations is proving ineffective in realizing larger objectives (namely resource “stabilization” and/or removal of resistance to political and commercial designs), utilization of more boots on the ground in actual fighting capacity appears to be the future. this correlates w/ africom getting a boot-in-the-door and the inevitable scope/mission creep that inevitably follows. for instance, as i said in another thread, don’t be surprised to see u.s. boots on the ground waging battle in somalia.

maybe 1,000 villagers were killed in the 2009 campaign – expect a higher body count from this next one”

The Acholi religous leaders feel the same about the military approach. Military attacks and reprisals only result in more bloodshed.

Response of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) to the ” Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009″

“Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative
Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative
Kitgum Office, Plot 121 Uhuru Drive, P.O. Box 185, Kitgum, Uganda
Pader Office, 1st Street, P.O. Box 50, Pader, Uganda
Gulu Office, Plot 16 Olya Road, P.O. Box 104, Gulu,Uganda
21st June 2009

For over two decades, war between the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda (GoU) has ravaged the region of north and northeastern Uganda causing great suffering among the civilian population. Over the last number of years, the conflict has unfortunately spread to the Southern Sudan, DR Congo and Central African Republic. While several methods have been employed to bring and end to the conflict, all have failed to reach their goal of realizing peace.

To address this issue the “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009” was introduced to the U.S. Senate on May 19th, 2009, detailing the way in which the United States wishes to engage with the conflict.

We the Acholi Religious Leaders Initiative (ARLPI) who have been tirelessly working to bring about sustainable peace and reconciliation throughout the region, wish to express our gratitude for the continued interest and support the U.S. has shown towards ending the suffering of those affected. Their support to initiatives such as the Juba Peace talks and the provision of humanitarian aid during the course of the conflict has not gone unnoticed. Such contributions have significantly improved the conditions in the region.

Of particular concern of bill however is Section 4: Requirement of a Regional Strategy for Disarming the LRA. This section implies that a military offensive may be immanent. The military option has been explored numerous times in the past, notably Operation North (1991), Operation Iron Fist (2002) and Operation Lightning Thunder (2008-2009).

Experience shows that despite such attempts to end the conflict, only dialogue can be attributed to the relative calm experienced in Northern Uganda since July of 2006 Military strategies launched against the LRA have time and again led to severe reprisal attacks on the innocent civilian community as illustrated by the recent 900 civilian deaths during Operation Lightning Thunder.

Not only has the cost of the military option been expensive regarding the loss of human life, the financial implications of war are also immense. The large sums of money required to carry out war drain the resources needed to bring about development and reconstruction of affected areas.

In conclusion, we applaud the commitment of the bill to bring about stability and development in the region. However, we as the Acholi religious leaders whose primary concern is the preservation of human life, advocate for dialogue and other non-violent strategies to be employed so that long term sustainable peace may be realized. Let us learn from the past experiences where we have seen that violence only breeds more violence.

Sincerely,

Archbishop John Baptist Odama
Al Hajji Sheik Musa Khalil
Rt. Rev. Bishop Nelson Onono
Rt. Rev. Bishop Benjamin Ojwang
Rt. Rev. Bishop Macleord Baker Ochola II
Fr. Julius Orach
Bishop Sabino Odoki”

Here is the text of President Obama’s announcement:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 14, 2011
TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE SENATE
October 14, 2011
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)For more than two decades, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men,women, and children in central Africa. The LRA continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security. Since 2008, the United States has supported regional military efforts to pursue the LRA and protect local communities. Even with some limited U.S. assistance, however, regional military efforts have thus far been unsuccessful in removing LRA leader Joseph Kony or his top commanders from the battlefield. In the Lord’s ResistanceArmy Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, Public Law 111-172, enacted May 24, 2010, the Congress also expressed support for increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability. In furtherance of the Congress’s stated policy, I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield. I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa. On October 12, the initial team of U.S. military personnel with appropriate combat equipment deployed to Uganda. During the next month, additional forces will deploy, including a second combat-equipped team and associated headquarters, communications, and logistics personnel. The total number of U.S. military personnel deploying for this mission is approximately 100. These forces will act as advisors to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership of the LRA. Our forces will provide information,advice, and assistance to select partner nation forces. Subject to the approval of each respective host nation, elements of these U.S. forces will deploy into Uganda, South Sudan, the CentralAfrican Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.The support provided by U.S. forces will enhance regional efforts against the LRA. However, although the U.S. forces arecombat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense. All appropriate precautions have been taken to ensure the safetyof U.S. military personnel during their deployment. I have directed this deployment, which is in the nationalsecurity and foreign policy interests of the United States,pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreignrelations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. I am making this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congressfully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (PublicLaw 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.
Sincerely,
BARACK OBAMA

To conclude, this bit of hiphop poetry from FURF1387 in the comments at the military.com article quoted above, is right on the mark:

FURF1387
Oct 15, 2011 10:35:44 AM
“100 here….100 there….100 a day to keep the barbarians at bay….100 a day reinforcing legions far away…the Republic at home begins to sway…unity oozes day by day…citizens won’t labor without circus & play…besides outsiders do the dirty work for much less pay… the empire spreads and melts away…AH, but that’s all a story from some ancient day…in some ol’ galaxy, far, far away…no need to fear…100 away..100 a day…100 there…100 HERE…no longer.”

 

________
________

 

Added February 14, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
DOD To Equip Uganda Forces In Bid To Destroy Rebel Forces

U.S. Africa Command is set to begin a new security assistance program in East Africa that aims to bolster the ability of Uganda’s military to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group that for more than 20 years has terrorized civilians.

Congress has lifted a hold it placed earlier this month on a Defense Department proposal to begin a new program to provide Ugandan defense forces with counterterrorism training and equipment, according to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. James Gregory.

The project, part of a second batch of so-called Section 1206 security assistance programs drawn up by the Defense and State departments, is designed to “provide communications and intelligence training as well as communications and engineering equipment to improve Uganda’s ability to remove LRA leadership and fighters from the battlefield,” according to Gregory. The project has a price tag of $4.4 million, he said.

During testimony before Congress this spring, Gen. Carter Ham, commander of AFRICOM, singled out the Lord’s Resistance Army as a “scourge” and an example of a transnational extremist threat to security on the continent. “In order for Africa Command to reduce threats to our citizens and interests, both abroad and at home, we need to contribute to operations, programs and activities that help African states provide for their own security in a manner that is consistent with the rule of law and international norms,” Ham told the House Armed Services Committee on April 5.

In May 2010, the President Obama signed into law the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, which required that the executive branch draw up a strategy to support multilateral efforts to protect civilians from the LRA, to apprehend or remove the LRA leader Joseph Kony, and to disarm and demobilize LRA fighters.

On Nov. 24, 2010, Obama transmitted the strategy to lawmakers with a letter explaining that it would guide “U.S. support across the region to mitigate and eliminate the threat to civilians and regional stability posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army.” The strategy consists of four objectives, one of which is to “apprehend or remove from the battlefield Joseph Kony and senior commanders.”

A State Department assessment on Uganda calls the Lord’s Resistance Army, which aims to overthrow the East African country’s government, “vicious and cult-like.” Between 1986 and 2006 the group is believed to have kidnapped thousands of children to serve as soldiers and slaves, according to the State Department. Its primary targets are civilians, especially women and children, according to a Congressional Research Service report. “Human rights abuses committed by the LRA include murder, mutilation, abduction of young women for sexual servitude, and kidnapping of children to become rebel fighters,” according to the State Department.

In 2005, the Ugandan forces drove the LRA out of the country. Since then, the rebel group has operated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Southern Sudan and the Central African Republic and is responsible for displacing nearly 2 million people, according to the State Department. For more than two years the governments of Uganda, Congo and Southern Sudan have waged joint military operations against the LRA in northeastern Congo.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon was cleared by Congress to spend as much as $123.3 million on similar projects in Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Uganda, Burundi, Oman, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Maldives and the Philippines (DefenseAlert, July 19).

Those projects, along with the new Uganda security assistance effort and a first batch of 1206 efforts to enhance the capabilities of Eastern European nations preparing to deploy to Afghanistan begun in April, require $159.3 million, comprising nearly half of the available funds for such programs — which are very popular with combatant commanders — in this fiscal year.

The FY-11 Defense Authorization Act granted $350 million for Section 1206 projects, including $75 million for stability operations. Congress, which first authorized Section 1206 projects in FY-06, permits spending on these programs for two purposes: to enhance partner nations’ counterterrorism and stability operations and bolster foreign maritime security forces for counterterrorism. — Jason Sherman

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