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America’s clandestine war in Africa continues

Harold Pease, Ph.D. Liberty Under Fire

April 16, 2014

The Washington Post reported in late March 2014, “a sharp increase in U.S. Special forces deployed to Uganda.”


President Barack Obama “sent U.S. military aircraft there for the first time in the ongoing effort to hunt down warlord Joseph Kony across a broad swath of central Africa. At least four CV-22 Osprey aircraft will arrive in Uganda by midweek, along with refueling aircraft and about 150 Special Operations airmen to fly and maintain the planes.” Such is by no means new.


Three and a half years ago, I wrote of President Obama’s clandestine operation in central Africa called Operation Lightning Thunder, involving 100 U.S. military “advisers,” sent by the president to help capture the allusive child abuser Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army. Congress was informed of the engagement by letter Oct. 14, 2011, but reportedly troops were already on site two days before, so the letter was decidedly not asking for permission to use armed forces in a foreign country, as is required by the Constitution.


Of course, nothing more was said of Kony who was never found, making it now appear that he was but an excuse for our penetration of the continent with forces from Afghanistan as we wound down our involvement there. An expanded military presence in Africa started with George W. Bush his last two years in office, as “about a dozen air bases have been established in Africa since 2007” (“US expands secret intelligence operations is Africa” Washington Post, June 13, 2007). Although Kony is still cited as the reason for our military incursion in Uganda now, there remains no actual evidence that he is even alive.


The Washington Post reported in June 2012, “The U.S. military is expanding its secret intelligence operations across Africa, establishing a network of small air bases to spy on terrorists hideouts from the fringes of the Sahara to jungle terrain along the equator, according to documents and people involved in the project.” Presently they use small private planes equipped “with hidden sensors that can record full motion video, track infrared heat patterns, and vacuum up radio and cellphone signals, the planes refuel on isolated airstrips … extending their effective flight range by thousands of miles.” The operations have intensified in recent months under Obama, the Post revealed, and include commando units who “train foreign security forces and perform aid missions, but they also include teams dedicated to tracking and killing suspected terrorists.”


Four months later in an article, “White House widening covert war in North Africa,” the Associated Press reported that an expanded U. S. role is anticipated and that Delta Force units eventually “will form the backbone of a military task force responsible for combating al-Qaida and other terrorist groups across the region with an arsenal that includes drones.” Col. Tim Nye, Special Operations Command spokesman “would not discuss the missions and or locations of its counterterrorist forces’ except to say that special operations troops are in 75 countries daily conducting missions” (October 2, 2012, by Kimberly Dozier). Conducting daily missions in 75 countries!?!


Global Research was even more explicit. In an article “America’s Shadow Wars in Africa” it went into greater detail (Nick Turse, July 13, 2012). Although Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, with “more than 2,000 U.S. personnel stationed there” is the “Pentagon’s showpiece African base,” there are many “nodes” of U.S. military presence elsewhere: three in Kenya, two in Uganda, two in Central African Republic, one in South Sudan, and one in Ethiopia. They specifically named the places. “Outposts of all sorts are sprouting continent-wide, connected by a sprawling shadow logistics network. Most American bases in Africa are still small and austere, but growing ever larger and more permanent in appearance,” they wrote. Add to this the extensive counter-terrorism training provided by the United States in Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Lesotho, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia.


With respect to the size of U.S. forces on the continent at any one given time, they added, “On an average basis, there are approximately 5,000 U.S. Military and DoD [Department of Defense] personnel working across the continent.” With respect to just why we need a military presence in every country in Africa, AFRICOM Commander General Carter Ham said, “The absolute imperative for the United States military [is] to protect America, Americans, and American interests … [to] protect us from threats that may emerge from the African continent.”


Something does not pass the smell test. U. S. Special Forces have been hunting Joseph Kony in a foreign country for three and one-half years with the most sophisticated technology on the planet, without success, and we need to send more? Is it possible that while our eyes are focused on Kony as the excuse for intervention, American imperialism in Africa is the real news?


Dr. Harold Pease teaches history and political science from this perspective for more than 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.