Friday, February 27, 2004

US military in Africa

The US is increasing its presence in Africa because of concerns about specific and potential terrorist threats.

Associated Press reporter Alexandra Zavis has a great interview with the deputy head of US forces in Europe, Air Force General Charles Wald, about how the US military is positioning itself in Africa.
The United States is helping train and equip four Sahara nations - Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad - to better guard their porous borders against terrorists, arms and other trafficking.

There are also agreements to conduct exercises and training in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, Wald said.

Further south, the United States wants to protect oil supplies in the Gulf of Guinea, where it gets 15 percent of its oil.

There is also concern that Africa's major humanitarian crises could develop into security threats for the United States and Europe.

Wald singled out AIDS, which is cutting a swath through many of the continent's armies. The European command supports a pioneering treatment program run by South African military health services.

... "Africa, we all know, has to work itself out of this situation, which is going to take time,'' he said. "In the meantime, we have to respond to some specific threats.''
The US Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program funds programs in certain African countries designed to address the spread of the disease in their militaries (more info here and here).

Something to keep in mind ... US Central Command is responsible for the countries in Horn -- Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan. All other countries in Africa fall under the purview of the European Command.