President Obama builds up U.S. military presence in 35 of the 57 African nations

U.S. Army teams going to Africa as terror threat grows

By By LOLITA C. BALDOR | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Army brigade will begin sending small teams into as many as 35 African nations early next year, part of an intensifying Pentagon effort to train countries to battle extremists and give the U.S. a ready and trained force to dispatch to Africa if crises requiring the U.S. military emerge. The teams will be limited to training and equipping efforts, and will not be permitted to conduct military operations without specific, additional approvals from the secretary of defense. The sharper focus on Africa by the U.S. comes against a backdrop of widespread insurgent violence across North Africa, and as the African Union and other nations discuss military intervention in northern Mali.

The terror threat from al-Qaida linked groups in Africa has been growing steadily, particularly with the rise of the extremist Islamist sect Boko Haram in Nigeria. Officials also believe that the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which killed the ambassador and three other Americans, may have been carried out by those who had ties to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

This first-of-its-kind brigade assignment — involving teams from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division — will target countries such as Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger, where al-Qaida-linked groups have been active. It also will assist nations like Kenya and Uganda that have been battling al-Shabab militants on the front lines in Somalia. Gen. Carter Ham, the top U.S. commander in Africa, noted that the brigade has a small drone capability that could be useful in Africa.

But he also acknowledged that he would need special permission to tap it for that kind of mission. “If they want them for (military) operations, the brigade is our first sourcing solution because they’re prepared,” said Gen. David Rodriguez, the head of U.S. Army Forces Command. “But that has to go back to the secretary of defense to get an execute order.” Already the U.S. military has plans for nearly 100 different exercises, training programs and other activities across the widely diverse continent. But the new program faces significant cultural and language challenges, as well as nagging questions about how many of the lower-level enlisted members of the brigade, based in Fort Riley, Kan., will participate, since the teams would largely be made up of more senior enlisted troops and officers.

A full brigade numbers about 3,500, but the teams could range from just a few people to a company of about 200. In rare cases for certain exercises, it could be a battalion, which would number about 800. To bridge the cultural gaps with the African militaries, the Army is reaching out across the services, the embassies and a network of professional organizations to find troops and experts that are from some of the African countries.

The experts can be used during training, and the troops can both advise or travel with the teams as they begin the program. “In a very short time frame we can only teach basic phrases,” said Col. Matthew McKenna, commander of the 162nd Infantry Brigade that will begin training the Fort Riley soldiers in March for their African deployment. “We focus on culture and the cultural impact — how it impacts the African countries’ military and their operations.”

Thomas Dempsey, a professor with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, said the biggest challenge will be the level of cultural, language and historical diversity across the far-flung continent. “How do you train for that in a way that would be applicable wherever they go?” said Dempsey, a retired Army colonel. He said he’s not sure using a combat brigade is the right answer, but added, “I’m not sure what the answer is. The security challenges differ so dramatically that, to be honest, I really don’t think it’s feasible to have a continental training package.”

The Pentagon’s effort in Africa, including the creation of U.S. Africa Command in 2007, has been carefully calibrated, largely due to broad misgivings across the continent that it could spawn American bases or create the perception of an undue U.S. military influence there. As a result, the command has been based in Stuttgart, Germany, rather than on the African continent. At the same time, many African nations are eager for U.S. training or support, as they work to build their militaries, battle pirates along the coast and shut down drug trafficking, kidnapping and other insurgent activities.

McKenna acknowledged the challenge, but said the military has to tap its conventional fighting forces for this task because there aren’t enough special operations forces to meet the global training needs. He said there will be as many as a dozen different training segments between February and September, each designed to provide tailored instruction for the particular teams. The mission for the 2nd Brigade — known as the “Dagger Brigade” — will begin in the spring and will pave the way for Army brigades to be assigned next to U.S. Pacific Command and then to U.S. European Command over the next year.

The brigade is receiving its regular combat training first, and then will move on to the more specific instruction needed for the deployments, such as language skills, cultural information and other data about the African nations. Dagger Brigade commander Col. Jeff Broadwater said the language and culture training will be different than what most soldiers have had in recent years, since they have focused on Pashtun and Farsi, languages used mostly in Afghanistan and Iran. He said he expects the soldiers to learn French, Swahili, Arabic or other languages, as well as the local cultures. “What’s really exciting is we get to focus on a different part of the world and maintain our core combat skills,” Broadwater said, adding that the soldiers know what to expect. “You see those threats (in Africa) in the news all the time.”

The brigade will be carved up into different teams designed to meet the specific needs of each African nation. As the year goes on, the teams will travel from Fort Riley to those nations — all while trying to avoid any appearance of a large U.S. military footprint. “The challenge we have is to always understand the system in their country,” said Rodriguez, who has been nominated to be the next head of Africa Command. “We’re not there to show them our system, we’re there to make their system work. Here is what their army looks like, and here is what we need to prepare them to do.” Rodriguez said the nearly 100 assignments so far requested by Ham will be carried out with “a very small footprint to get the high payoff.”

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Africa Political Map

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Army plans to shift troops to U.S. Africa Command

By Kristina Wong
The Washington Times

U.S. Africa Command, the military’s newest regional force, will have more troops available early next year as the Pentagon winds down from two ground wars over the past decade, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Army chief of staff, told The Washington Times.
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Audio: U.S. Military Builds Up Its Presence In Africa
The Dagger Brigade (U.S. Army) from Fort Riley, Kansas, some 4,000, soldiers, will begin helping to train African militaries

Click link to listen and then click your back arrow to return to the Dilemma X website

http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=168008525&m=168014339

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Video: ‘US actively promoting militarism in Africa’

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Video: AFRICOM to stay in Germany

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Video: Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Michael Pelletier U.S. Policy Towards Africa (in French)

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Video: AFRICOM Town Hall with General Martin E. Dempsey
General Martin E. Dempsey is the 18th and current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. President Obama’s administration officials on May 26, 2011 stated that the President would nominate Dempsey to the post of Chairman.

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Posture Statement of U.S. Africa Command

See link:

Posture Statement of U.S. Africa Command 2012
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Africom

Photo Credit: U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs
Sgt. 1st Class Grady Hyatt, with U.S. Army Africa, leads an after-action review with soldiers of the Ghana Army. In March, the Army will align the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, with U.S. Africa Command. The unit will serve, for a year, as the go-to force for U.S. Africa Command.

Africom

STUTTGART, Germany – Sao Tome and Principe Prime Minister Patrice Emery Trovoada is greeted by General Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, upon his arrival to Kelley Barracks on Monday, September 24, 2012. The prime minister, the first African head of government to visit AFRICOM’s headquarters, spent the day engaging with senior leaders on mutual security cooperation issues. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Martin Greeson)

Africom

DAKAR, Senegal- November 2012- African partners, from the second iteration of the Military Intelligence Non-Commissioned Officer Course- Africa, plot points on a map in accordance to simulated intelligence information that was released from the course instructors for a capabilities exercise designed to test the proficiency of the skills taught during the seven-week course. MINOC-A II, a seven-week course that was held here, is the first iteration of the course on the continent of Africa and enhances capacity for intelligence skills and techniques while providing a combined-forces environment to promote collaboration methods with the region’s military-intelligence community. Countries that participated in MINOC-A II include the nations of Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Tunisia, Senegal, Canada and the U.S. (Photo by Sergeant Tatum Vayavananda)

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‘Dagger’ Brigade looking forward to AFRICOM mission

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, called the “Dagger Brigade,” or 2/1ID, and out of Fort Riley, Kansas, will be the main force provider for security cooperation and partnership-building missions in Africa.

Dagger Brigade

Story by: Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire
2HBCT PUBLIC AFFAIRS

The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division was designated earlier this year to be the Army’s first regionally-aligned brigade combat team and will be partnered with the Army’s Africa Command for about 18 months, beginning in 2013.

Following the brigade’s rotation to the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., early next year, the brigade will be capable of supporting a variety of missions and exercises across the African continent and also will be available for global contingency operations should that need arise.

“It’s always fun and challenging and rewarding to be the first to do anything, and I think everybody in the formation is really looking forward to that opportunity to go out there and assist in any way that we can,” said Col. Jeffery Broadwater, 2nd ABCT commander.

The brigade will not deploy to Africa as a whole, Broadwater said, and most missions will involve military-to-military cooperation and training conducted by small teams of 2nd ABCT Soldiers and leaders.

“Maybe [a small group of] individuals from the brigade (will go) to a given country because that country requests it. They wanted to see how the U.S. Army conducts marksmanship or how does the U.S. do casualty evacuation – specific things like that in which a small number of individuals would go.”

The brigade’s and Army’s presence in Africa will be in response to partner nation requests, which are part of the AFRICOM campaign plan and coordinated through the U.S. Department of State.

The brigade’s Soldiers also will likely be called on for major partnered exercises, which will require a larger number of Soldiers, although it will still fall short of requiring the entire brigade.

“Another broad category would be the exercises, where you might have a larger portion of the brigade – not the entire brigade, but a larger portion – would go for 30 days or however long the timeframe is to conduct an exercise with a country,” Broadwater said.

In addition to being the largest, exercises would require the longest deployments.

“Obviously, we have that mission of regionally aligned, globally available, so things could change, but right now, all the missions would be about a week or 30 to 60 days for some of the larger exercises,” Broadwater said.

“That’s the way it looks right now.”

One of the major differences between planning for operations in Africa and the familiar preparations for deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan is the variety of cultures, languages, histories and political realities to be found on the continent, which includes more than 50 countries and several major language Families.

“Any one of the countries inside has specific needs and things going on within that are different than in other countries,” Broadwater said. “So, I think that’s probably the biggest issue, but I don’t necessarily see it as a challenge – more as an opportunity.”

Also, given the large number of small missions that might be underway at a given time, maintaining administrative control and communications with all of the teams in the field will be a unique challenge on top of simply having qualified personnel in the proper places.

“Tracking all those elements, such as do they have their shots, their passports – which is something different that you didn’t have to think about in Iraq or Afghanistan – all those things like that, besides the training piece to make sure they are certified to meet the requirements of the host nation,” Broadwater said. “That is another (thing to consider).”

Past experience could stand the unit in good stead if properly leveraged, Broadwater added. Even current training, like company situational training exercise, or STX lanes, has real-world elements that might come in handy in Africa.

“One of the things we are drawing on now as we execute company STX is we still have to have the ability to react with a population, so interpreter skills, cultural understanding and awareness,” he said.

While training is now mostly focused on being prepared for global availability, Africa-related training will be ramped up following the brigade’s return from NTC in March, including using outside trainers to help educate Soldiers further on cultural awareness.

http://www.riley.army.mil/NewsViewer.aspx?id=6908

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