3,000 U.S. soldiers to serve in Africa next year- A new Cold War with China over Africa?

June 18, 2012

Africa, International

3,000 U.S. soldiers to serve in Africa next year
As the war in Afghanistan draws down, the Army will be increasing the number of troops deployed to Africa.
By John Ryan – Staff writer
Army Times
A brigade will deploy to Africa next year in a pilot program that assigns brigades on a rotational basis to regions around the globe, the Army announced in May.
Roughly 3,000 soldiers — and likely more — are expected to serve tours across the continent in 2013, training foreign militaries and aiding locals.
As part of a “regionally aligned force concept,” soldiers will live and work among Africans in safe communities approved by the U.S. government, said Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg, head of U.S. Army Africa.
Tours could last a few weeks or months and include multiple missions at different locations, he said.
The Army has not announced which brigade would deploy or where the soldiers would come from.
As the Afghanistan war winds down, the new readiness model affords Army units more time to learn regional cultures and languages and train for specific threats and missions.
Africa, in particular, has emerged as a greater priority for the U.S. government because terrorist groups there have become an increasing threat to U.S. and regional security.
Though U.S. soldiers have operated in Africa for decades, including more than 1,200 soldiers currently stationed at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, the region in many ways remains the Army’s last frontier.
“As far as our mission goes, it’s uncharted territory,” Hogg said from his headquarters in Vicenza, Italy.
But “I’m not there to win their wars or settle their differences,” he added.
Instead, with more soldiers, U.S. Army Africa will continue to strengthen ties with regional militaries and governments by teaching military tactics, medicine and logistics, as well as combating famine, disease and terrorism in secure environments. The Army currently allows conventional soldiers to enter only 46 of the 54 African states due to security risks.
The State Department and U.S. special operations commands handle activities in the other countries, including those amid conflict.
Active-duty soldiers, guardsmen and reservists have helped quell regional violence, assist sick and injured Africans and feed the famished in East Africa.
During a recent annual training exercise, U.S. soldiers taught Ugandan forces how to deliver supplies by air to comrades in the bush chasing rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army, a militia accused of atrocities in central Africa.
Through State Department initiatives, soldiers have also trained African troops headed for peacekeeping missions in Somalia on convoy security and countering improvised explosive devices.
On medical missions, Army doctors have replaced eye lenses of cataract patients in Malawi and Zanzibar, who danced and beamed after seeing, in some cases for the first time. Medical soldiers have also handed out mosquito nets to protect locals from malaria, the No. 1 killer in Africa, Hogg said.
Army chaplains teach Africans in classes about dealing with post-traumatic stress and running family readiness groups.
Real-world lessons
A brigade combat team has the capability to satisfy more than two-thirds of these missions in Africa. The rest will require skilled specialists — mechanics and logisticians — from the National Guard and Army Reserve, Hogg said.
Each week, U.S. Army Africa operations personally affect 300 to 400 locals, he said.
“I’ve seen some of these missions where the battalion commander down there could probably run for governor,” he said. “That’s how close of a relationship they have with some of their counterparts, both on the military side and with the local civilian community.
“It gets out the indirect approach [toward] some of these violent, extremist organizations that will talk bad about the Americans and the U.S,” he said. “It leaves behind a lasting effect over time.”
From African forces, U.S. soldiers have picked up real-world lessons about tropical diseases, international cultures and foreign military tactics.
In the future, U.S. soldiers might also attend military courses in Africa, such as the French desert survival school in Djibouti and African jungle schools in Ghana and Gabon.
Still, the Army has no plans to construct permanent bases across the continent, and the mission does have its limits, Hogg said.
“For all the challenges that happen and sprout up across Africa, it really comes down to, it has to be an African solution. We are here to enable, where wanted, the African forces to figure out and solve their own problems,” said Hogg, who has visited more than 20 countries.
“We are not trying to reproduce the United States Army in the 54 countries in Africa,” he said.
To serve on the continent, soldiers can:
•Volunteer for duty with U.S. Army Africa.
•Join an office of security cooperation for the region.
•Apply and become a foreign-area officer.
Click image to enlarge:
Commander, United States Africa Command
General Carter F. Ham became commander of U.S. Africa Command headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany on March 9, 2011. U.S. Africa Command is one of six unified geographic commands within the Department of Defense unified command structure.

June 14, 2012

President Barack Obama unveils US Africa strategy
BBC News
The White House has announced a new US strategy for sub-Saharan Africa, which focuses on the continent’s economic potential.
It also explores issues related to democracy, security and development.
President Barack Obama said African democracy had improved but corruption was endemic in many countries and state institutions were weak.
The strategy comes as China’s presence on the continent continues to grow through investment and trade.
Mr Obama said he would work with Congress to develop preferential trade agreements with African countries, while fighting al-Qaeda and its affiliates on the continent.
“As we look toward the future, it is clear that Africa is more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community, and to the United States in particular,” said Mr Obama, the US-born son of a Kenyan man.
Exchanging entrepreneurs
The White House said its new Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa provides “a proactive and forward looking vision grounded in partnership”.
A bid to increase trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa is among its aims.
The US administration is reaching out to entrepreneurs through exchange programmes. It will try to match US and Africa companies for business opportunities.
The strategy is the result of four months of work, during which advisers looked at how to address the challenges the continent faces from famine to instability as well as the continent’s economic potential.
The BBC’s Kim Ghattas in Washington says the strategy is partly aimed at encouraging the US and Africans to do business together.
Our correspondent says this approach could also provide an opportunity to help revive the flagging economy in the US.
The announcement indicates a renewed focus on Africa, but as the plan is short on detail for now it is unclear how the strategy differs from what the administration has been doing so far, she says.
Some African countries already enjoy trade preferences with the US – through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) – on the condition they uphold free elections and markets.
At an Agoa forum in Washington on Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Africa was the “land of opportunity”.
“I want all of my fellow American citizens, particularly our business community, to hear this: Africa offers the highest rate of return on foreign direct investment of any developing region in the world,” AFP news agency quotes her as saying.
Last month, Mr Obama announced a $3bn (£1.9bn) plan to boost food security and farm productivity in Africa.
US officials said that initiative was aimed at alleviating shortages as world food supplies are being stretched by rising demand in Asia’s emerging markets.
Video: President Obama July 11, 2009 speaking to the Ghanaian Parliament about AFRICOM


Video: AFRICOM expands mission in Africa


Video: Libya: China heavily invest in Africa, The Pentagon responds with AFRICOM

February 21, 2008
Bush Confronts Hard Questions in Ghana

The New York Times
ACCRA, Ghana – Traveling across Africa this week, President Bush has been a little like Santa Claus, a benevolent figure from another land handing out gifts – American foreign aid – and generating smiles wherever he goes.
But here in the capital of Ghana on Wednesday, the smiles stopped for a moment as Mr. Bush confronted skepticism about American military policy and his AIDS initiative.
Mr. Bush used a news conference to address the widespread suspicion that the United States planned to establish military bases in Africa as it expanded its strategic role on the continent. And for the first time, he suggested that he might consider dropping a requirement that one-third of AIDS prevention dollars be spent on abstinence programs – but only if he was convinced that the approach was not working.
“I know there’s rumors in Ghana, ‘All Bush is coming to do is to try to convince you to put a big military base here,’ ” Mr. Bush said at a news conference with the country’s president, John Kufuor. “That’s baloney. As they say in Texas, that’s bull.”
The suspicion grows out of the administration’s plan to establish Africom, a command headquarters that the Pentagon says would involve only operational and planning offices to help train African troops. Even so, there is concern in countries like Ghana, where memories of colonial rule are still fresh, that the United States wants to use the command as the first step toward putting American troops on the continent, possibly in a move to gain access to African oil or to counter the growing influence of China.
Only Liberia, which Mr. Bush intends to visit on Thursday, has expressed interest in playing host to the Africom headquarters. But the Pentagon says that for now, the headquarters will remain in Stuttgart, Germany.
Still, Mr. Bush said: “That doesn’t mean we won’t develop some kind of office here in Africa. We haven’t made our minds up.”
Mr. Bush has been handing out assistance packages all week, and Wednesday was no exception. With Mr. Kufuor by his side, the president announced he would make available $350 million over five years to provide treatment for lesser-known tropical diseases like hookworm, river blindness and schistosomiasis, also known as snail fever.

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