- Posted June 29, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
US to Expand Operations in Africa?
This may have slipped by you on your choice of news networks, newspapers, blog or social media, but the Voice of America is reporting that the US military has developed plans to expand operations on the African continent.
Not a blip or a hue or cry coming from lawmakers, but the commander of US forces in Africa, General Carter Ham, acknowledge plans are developed and now being implemented as a pivot in military focus in line with President Barack Obama's new defense strategy.
Naturally, Washington and the Pentagon are saying there no plans to expand a permanent presence on the Dark Continent.
I did report back on February 22: US Troops on the Ground in 4 African Countries.
U.S. military leaders are promising a small-scale, but effective plan for dealing with terrorist threats throughout Africa. The head of the military's Africa Command says that U.S. forces are carrying out reconnaissance missions across the continent but Washington has no plans to expand its permanent presence in Africa.
Onboard a U.S. military transport plane ready for takeoff from the airport at Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso are U.S.-trained Burkinabe troops on a training mission to Mali.
The airport is the hub of what the Washington Post newspaper recently reported is a growing operations and surveillance network that the U.S. is setting up across much of Africa.
U.S. officials are not confirming the newspaper’s reports that the military is using small, unarmed turboprop planes disguised as private aircraft to conduct surveillance.
The details of such operations are secret, but General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. forces in Africa, says the missions themselves are not.
“Do we collect information across Africa? Yes we do. But we do that with the consent, first of all, of our ambassador and secondly with the consent of the nations involved,” Ham explained.
The United States military is increasing its focus on Africa as part of President Obama’s new defense strategy.
That strategy calls for U.S. forces to enable partner nations to deal with security threats in the face of growing activity by militant groups, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Shabab in Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria.
About 100 U.S. Special Operations Forces troops have been in Uganda for months, supporting troops from partner nations who fight the Lord’s Resistance Army group, and helping them hunt for the group's leader, Joseph Kony.
“We are not seeking, other than Djibouti, any other long-term U.S. presence on the continent,” Ham added.
From the Cornfield, let us hope that these "observation" and "training" missions do not embroil us in yet another conflict we cannot afford nor have stomach to pursue.