For the present, the headquarters of AFRICOM will remain in Stuttgart Germany. It is a triumph that African countries have held the line, and successfully opposed an AFRICOM headquarters on the continent. However, AFRICOM is just as dangerous without an actual headquarters in Africa. With Bush visiting Ghana this week, it is worth looking at exactly what Bush, AFRICOM, and US intentions are in Ghana and West Africa.
Oil is the main source of US interest. The US already gets more oil from Africa than from Saudi Arabia, and wants even more. The quality and quantity of African oil, and the ease of working on offshore deep water rigs, away from the population, make African oil particularly desirable.
Ghanaians should make no mistake. There is already a US military presence in Ghana. It occupies what the US military sometimes calls "lily pads" or "cooperative security locations". You probably know where some of these are. And this presence will grow. It is already growing through interactions with the African Partnership Station, the APS, the USS Fort McHenry that has been visiting Ghana and sailing along the Gulf of Guinea in 2007 and 2008.
The way it works:
"A cooperative security location can be a tucked-away corner of a host country's civilian airport, or a dirt runway somewhere with fuel and mechanical help nearby, or a military airport in a friendly country with which we have no formal basing agreement but, rather, an informal arrangement with private contractors acting as go-betweens ... The United States provides aid to upgrade maintenance facilities, thereby helping the host country to better project its own air and naval power in the region. At the same time, we hold periodic exercises with the host country's military, in which the base is a focus. We also offer humanitarian help to the surrounding area. Such civil-affairs projects garner positive publicity for our military in the local media... The result is a positive diplomatic context for getting the host country's approval for use of the base when and if we need it."
We have already been seeing this in action with the activities of the APS, the USS Fort McHenry. The reason USAID and diplomatic functions are subsumed under the Pentagon with AFRICOM is that:
We have seen cooperative military activities in Ghana, and we can see them in Djibouti, where -
Economic aid, development projects, or other forms of indirect compensation . . . may also be given with military considerations in mind. For example . . . constructing dozens of roads, piers, wharfs, bridges, and other infrastructure projects in the very areas where US troops have been deployed. . . . many of these infrastructure projects support US military mobility; at the same time, they have also proven very useful in gaining local public acceptance for US military presence. For the Special Forces, especially, the infrastructure and humanitarian projects are seen as instrumental in "winning hearts and minds" in the aim of getting what they call "actionable" intelligence.
CJTF-HOA (Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa) is positioned to serve as a model for AFRICOM
In Djibouti there is a great deal of humanitarian assistance, joint training, and other friendly and cooperative efforts going on. There is also a Special Forces team. From Djibouti the US assisted the Ethiopian government to invade Somalia in January 2007, and overthrow the only functioning government that Somalia had in 15 years, replacing it with the hated warlords, and creating a humanitarian crisis that dwarfs Darfur. Supposedly the US was fighting "terrorism". However, whoever is out of favor with the US is likely to be labeled a terrorist. This is not something new, historically:
The collapse of the Portuguese colonial forces in Mozambique, Angola, Guinea and Sao Tome and the collapse of the white racist military forces in Rhodesia gradually led to a rethinking by the US military. During this period the US had labeled all African freedom fighters as terrorists. When the US was allied with Osama Bin Laden and Jonas Savimbi, Nelson Mandela had been branded a terrorist.In fact -
there are scholars who have argued and presented evidence that the government of the United States has been “fabricating terrorism” in Africa.
The Bush administration plans to employ mercenaries to do much of the business of AFRICOM, follow the link for more details. The "private contractors" mentioned above mean mercenaries. And the "partnerships" AFRICOM is promoting are intended to coopt African militaries so that they will do the dirty work in any fighting the US wants conducted in Africa.
That said, the US military provides the best military training you can find anywhere in the world. It is worthwhile to take the opportunity to learn from it. Most of the US soldiers and sailors are good people with excellent intentions. This does not necessarily apply to the contractors. At the same time it is important to keep in mind, that when you train with them, they will be learning a lot of information about you, your country, and your military organization. The intentions of Bush and his cronies, who give the orders, are not benign, and they intend to use the military to impose their goals by force where they see the "need", and impose a 21st century version of colonization. You can read here for the documentary trail of their plans and intentions.
. . . the Bush Family and their allies and cronies represent the confluence of three long-established power factions in the American elite: oil, arms and investments. These groups equate their own interests, their own wealth and privilege, with the interests of the nation - indeed, the world - as a whole. And they pursue these interests with every weapon at their command, including war, torture, deceit and corruption. Democracy means nothing to them - not even in their own country.
And this is the danger in dealing with them. They are a powerful force for corruption and exploitation, even as they preach democracy and "free" markets.
Below is a list of US military programs in Africa that will come under AFRICOM, and countries where they are active. You may have already encountered some of these in action. I know ACOTA has already been active in Ghana. For more detail about these see Africom: The new US military command for Africa.
Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative/Partnership (formerly Pan Sahel Initiative) (TSCTI) Targeting threats to US oil/natural gas operations in the Sahara region Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Tunisia, Nigeria, and Libya.
Africa Contingency Operations Training and Asssistance Program (ACOTA) (formerly African Crisis Response Initiative) (ACRI)) Part of “Global Peace” Operations Initiative (GPOI). Areas of Operation: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia.
International Military Training and Education (IMET) program brings African military officers to US military academies and schools for indoctrination.
Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa. Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) (formerly Africa Center for Security Studies) Part of National Defense University, Washington.
Provides indoctrination for “next generation” African military officers. This is the “School of the
Americas” for Africa. All of Africa is covered under the Foreign Military Sales Program which sells US military equipment to African nations via Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Zimbabwe.
- African Coastal and Border Security Program Provides fast patrol boats, vehicles, electronic surveillance equipment, night vision equipment to littoral states.
Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) Military command based at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. Aimed at putting down rebellions in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Somaliland and targets Eritrea. Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti. Joint Task Force Aztec Silence (JTFAS) Targets terrorism in West and North Africa. Joint effort of EUCOM and Commander Sixth Fleet (Mediterranean) Based in Sigonella, Sicily and Tamanrasset air base in southern Algeria Gulf of Guinea Initiative.
- US Navy Maritime Partnership Program Trains African militaries in port and off-shore oil platform security Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principe, Togo.
Tripartite Plus Intelligence Fusion Cell Based in Kisangani, DRC to oversee “regional security,” I.E. ensuring U.S. and Israeli access to Congo’s gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, and col-tan. Congo-Kinshasa, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda. United States Base access for Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) and Forward Operating Locations (FOLs) U.S. access to airbases and other facilities Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia, Namibia, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia, Algeria. Africa Regional Peacekeeping (ARP) Liaison with African “peacekeeping” military commands East Africa Regional Integration Team: Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania.
- North Africa Regional Integration Team:
Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya.
- Central Africa Regional Integration Team:
Congo ( Kinshasa), Congo ( Brazzaville), Chad. South Africa Regional Integration Team: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola.
- West Africa Regional Integration Team:
Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Western Sahara. Africa Partnership Station (APS) Port visits by USS Fort McHenry and High Speed Vessel (HSV) Swift. Part of US Navy’s Global Fleet Station Initiative. Training and liaison with local military personnel to ensure oil production security Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Sao Tome & Principe.