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March 20, 2013

Increased U.S Military Presence in Africa: Why Now?

For a continent that has suffered its fair share of Western exploitation and imperialism, which Historian Donald W. Meinig defined as “the aggressive encroachment of one people upon the territory of another, resulting in the subjugation of that people to alien rule,” one can’t help but wonder why there is a sudden increase of  U.S military presence in Africa.

The Army Times Newspaper reported in June of 2012 that over 3000 soldiers were to be deployed to the continent to serve and train the African military, as part of a “regional allegiance concept.” The Global Research also reported that the U.S military will be holding 100 military exercises in 35 African countries.

According to the Defense Department, this large deployment of military personnel to the continent is part of an overall operation by The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) which is one of nine unified combatant commands of the United States Armed Forces.

AFRICOM was established in 2007 by the Bush administration, and its mission statement is two-fold. The first is to protect and defend the national security interests of the United States by strengthening the defense capabilities of African states and regional organizations. The second is to direct and conduct military operations, in order to deter and defeat transnational threats, and to provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development.

The mission statement brings two questions to mind: The first is whether or not there is a deeper motive behind what will be a constant deployment of American troops into many parts of Africa during the coming years. The second question is whether or not the Africans themselves are open to the notion of having a large U.S military presence in their various countries.

While it is true that during the past decade, certain African nations like Mali, Somalia, Uganda and the Sudan have seen a rise in Islamist fundamentalist groups, including a possible Al-Qaeda presence in those regions, these groups are small in numbers and certainly do not account for the large U.S military presence being deployed all over the the continent. So why the huge military presence now?

Is the establishment of AFRICOM an attempt by the Pentagon to increase access to African resources, like many other Western nations have done in the past? Or was it established to serve as the latest frontier in military expansionism under the guise of fighting a global war on terror? Whatever its purpose is, one thing is certain, the establishment of AFRICOM poses more questions than it answers.

Photo credit: The U.S. Army/Flickr

Edited by: Hugo Esteban Rodriguez

Nkorni Tankwa (3 Posts)

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