Saturday, November 12, 2011

U.S. Military Presence Increasing in Africa

The Guardian has an article about the U.S. military providing counter-insurgency training to Nigeria to combat the growing threat of the radical Muslim group, Boko Haram. The excellent Confused Eagle blog, which provides commentary and analysis on USG doings in Africa, has further details.

So let's see now. Last month it was announced 100 U.S. advisors were heading to Uganda to help deal with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Past U.S. involvement fighting the LRA hasn't been exactly stellar. Three years ago the U.S. Africa Command helped plan Operation Lightning Thunder, a large-scale attack on LRA camps. Due to a lack of coordination between Ugandan ground and air forces, the raids failed, and hundreds of civilians were killed as enraged LRA units went into hiding.

Over in Kenya, the U.S. has been training the Kenyan military for quite some time. Border incursions by al-Shabab are almost certainly prompting covert U.S. special operations missions against the Somali Islamist group. U.S. drones, cruise missiles, and helicopters have already been used against targets in Somalia during the past four years.

Then don't forget about Camp Lemonnier, a large American base in Djibouti. And those new drone bases in Ethiopia and Seychelles that the Washington Post reported in September.

From a humanitarian security perspective, this expansion makes me uneasy. U.S. and Western military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan didn't exactly win hearts and minds, and in the process, many Western NGOs and their staffs were put at greater risk. If your organization is doing work in Africa, you should be paying attention to any early signs of local fall-out from U.S. military actions; and adjusting your security measures accordingly. While acceptance is a powerful strategy, history has shown it can be trumped by perceived guilt through association.



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