AFRICOM: US Covert Mission in Africa
On October 4 2017, four U.S. soldiers, who were part of a 12-man Special Forces team led by Green Berets, died in Niger. They were killed in an attack by about 50 armed terrorists with ties to the Islamic State just as the soldiers returned from a meeting with local community leaders.
Following their deaths, there was a great furor in the U.S. Many questions were raised about how the soldiers died and why the body of one of them was discovered more than 48 hours later.
Others questioned why U.S. soldiers had been deployed to Niger in the first place. President Trump’s failure to respond to the matter promptly in the eyes of some only increased public anxiety and anger.
The Niger incident lead to increased public awareness that the U.S. has been sending troops to Africa through the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), despite little official acknowledgement of AFRICOM’s operations. Under AFRICOM the military footprint of the U.S. has been growing drastically in the region.
In 2006, only about 1 percent of U.S. commandos were situated in Africa. In 2010, it was about 3 percent, by 2016 the number had risen to 17 percent. All of which was done with little or no information given to the citizens of the U.S.
AFRICOM was originally commissioned by President George W. Bush in 2007. Its mission was to help neutralize terrorist groups in Africa as well as to help in regional security stabilization. The mission was in line with U.S.’ pledge to fight terror in Africa after its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed in 1998.
The strategy of AFRICOM has been to train African forces on how to fight terror. Training African forces is believed to be more cost effective than having the U.S. forces themselves in combat. AFRICOM has also been engaging in another strategy termed “preventive war”. The policy of preventive war is to engage in small wars when necessary to prevent them from escalating into full blown wars.
The presence of the U.S. soldiers in any country can make locals uneasy. With an increasing presence of American troops on African soil, there has been growing uneasiness. Where there is tension, war eventually breaks out and it can go on decades.
Reports that Congress did not know or approve of the presence of U.S. soldiers in Africa has fueled allegations of covert missions by the U.S. in Africa.
“Americans should know what’s going on in Niger,” Sen. John McCain said.
“You know you are in too many wars in too many places when even warmonger Lindsay Graham can’t keep track anymore,” Republican Sen. Rand Paul said in a tweet in reply to Senator Lindsey Graham. Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had said he wasn’t aware of U.S. troops,, specifically in Niger.
Africa is a continent full of resources and many of them are still unexploited. The oil rich regions of West, Central and North Africa have been volatile for decades. AFRICOM claims its increased presence on the continent is to bring about order and combat terrorism. But as AFRICOM has grown so has U.S. corporate investment in Africa.
Is it merely a coincidence that AFRICOM has grown as U.S. corporate interests in Africa have grown? Not everyone believes in coincidence.