This week’s unprecedented joint trilateral sea exercise of the South African, Russian and Chinese navies has raised some eyebrows in Western embassies in Pretoria and defence think tanks back in their capitals. Some of the US missions in Africa are aimed at training local forces while others involve direct combat. When it was all over, the two American pilots of that plane and a U.S. soldier were dead, two other U.S. military personnel were wounded, six surveillance aircraft and helicopters were destroyed, and parts of the airfield were in flames. Without sustained pressure, the threat posed by these groups will.”, But in the face of deteriorating security and gloomy Pentagon assessments, some experts question this rationale. Where there are U.S. bases, there is the potential for such attacks, because bases are not just launching pads for offensive military operations, but targets for them too. A lack of transparency in African deployments both by the US and the host nations has contributed to this problem, the report noted. The U.S. military presence in Niger and Somalia is part of a broader expansion of its efforts to deter transnational threats and promote regional security and stability in Africa. The Army, for the first time, will send soldiers from one of its new training brigades to Africa to expand the use of the new specialized units as the Pentagon looks at possible troop cuts on the continent. Run by Joint Special Operations Command, the secretive organization that controls the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 and the Army’s Delta Force, or by theater special operations forces, these 80- to 120-person units, operating with the assistance of U.S. commandos, are primarily engaged in counterterrorism operations, especially ones aimed at high-value targets. The lease on the only permanent US military base in Africa, Camp Lemonnier is $63 million a year. That’s all it takes to support the journalism you rely on. US military officials tout the African footprint as a “light and relatively low-cost” one, to cite AFRICOM Commander Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, and point fingers at countries like China and Russia, accusing them of meddling in African affairs. In the wake of the attack last month, its defenses were also hardened and its troop strength markedly increased. Last year, some of the deadliest Pentagon combat troops were present in Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Côte D’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Tanzania and Tunisia. Facing a potential drawdown of forces, AFRICOM has been making the case that its bases and the missions run from them are integral to U.S. interests. If you like this story, share it with a friend! Subscribe. These include some member countries with substantial capabilities such as Nigeria and South Africa, both with armed forces of over 60,000. “VEOs in West Africa are not degraded nor contained to the Sahel and Lake Chad region,” the command admitted. These Documents Show a Vast Network of Bases. “The underlying drivers of terrorism, including poverty, corruption, and repression, do not have military solutions.”. The military has received a major boost with the news that the United States is planning more than 30 military-to-military engagements with the South African National Defence Force in 2005. The company is a registered supplier of tactical military and security products to the South African Defence Force, South African Airforce, South African Police Force (SAPS) and Armscor. What are the forces at these bases doing there? Militant Islamist activity also hit record levels in 2019. There are around 4,000 troops there, including lots of aircraft and drones. First published at All Africa.. Military Products is now in the 30th year of business. Another Special Forces detachment has been engaged in train, advise, and assist activities with a local counterterrorism force in Arlit, Niger. In 2019, the Pentagon maintained over two dozen bases across the continent. There are now roughly 25 active militant Islamist groups operating in Africa, up from just five in 2010 — a jump of 400 percent — according to the Defense Department’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies. Characterized as “AAA” or “advise, assist and accompany” by US AFRICOM (United States Africa Command), these deployments can be quite risky for American soldiers. There is concern that Washington’s continued military assistance of authoritarian governments in Africa is perceived as legitimizing their abuses. Maps of U.S. “Enduring” and “Non-Enduring” bases in Africa. Who would hold party elites accountable to the values they proclaim to have? The Pentagon defines “enduring” bases as providing “strategic access and use to support United States security interests for the foreseeable future.” “Non-Enduring” outposts — also known as “contingency locations” — are defined as supporting and sustaining “operations during contingencies or other operations.” Contingency locations can be categorized as initial, temporary, or semipermanent. Joining is simple and doesn’t need to cost a lot: You can become a sustaining member for as little as $3 or $5 a month. New recommendations for a stronger wealth tax in South Africa Next article. “Additional posture and/or capacity is required in East Africa to more efficiently employ limited aviation resources in support of U.S. activities in southern Somalia,” according to the formerly secret files, which also mention the “potential establishment of one or more [contingency locations] in Somalia to support Somali National Security Force development.” The 2019 planning documents also state that five “contingency locations” were recommended to be upgraded to “semi-permanent” status: Baledogle, Kismayo, and Mogadishu in Somalia, and Arlit and Diffa in Niger. Follow Us. Russia has no permanent military foothold in Africa, though it has been discussing a possible lease of an airfield in northwestern Egypt. The US military delegation that was due to arrive in South Africa next week to interact with local defence companies will no longer be coming as the visit has been postponed due to travel restrictions over the COVID-19 coronavirus. “These personnel and installations are critical in combatting the ever-increasing number of violent extremist groups throughout the region that pose an immediate threat to our partners and allies,” wrote U.S. Sens. Subscribe to RT newsletter to get stories the mainstream media won’t tell you, US Air Force troops leap from a CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter during a training mission over Djibouti. AFRICOM told the DoDIG that security in West Africa continued to deteriorate during the final quarter of 2019 as terrorist groups “launched a growing number of offensive attacks against military facilities and troops … often resulting in large numbers of casualties” to U.S.-allied armed forces. His colleague, Temi Ibirogba, a program and research associate with the Africa Program at CIP, noted that the rise of violent extremism in Africa in the face of persistent U.S. military engagement since 9/11 should be cause for skepticism of the “more is better” strategy. The U.S. military has a major base in Djibouti, Camp Lemonnier. © Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”, 2005–2021. While the five U.S. outposts in Somalia rank second only to the six in Niger when it comes to America’s footprint on the continent, AFRICOM is actively seeking to expand its presence in the Horn of Africa. South Africa’s military strength vs the rest of the world in 2018 . The DoDIG further noted that al-Shabab not only “remains a potent threat” due to its “ability to conduct high-profile attacks, recruit fighters, and finance ongoing operations,” but that the group “appears to be a growing threat to U.S. personnel and interests in the region.”. The 2019 AFRICOM planning document notes that U.S. forces will “continue to conduct counter-VEO-focused activities” from 16 separate bases. These formerly secret documents, created by the Pentagon’s Africa Command and obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, offer an exclusive window into the footprint of American military operations in Africa. Consider what the world of media would look like without The Intercept. There were 3,471 reported violent events linked to these groups last year, a 1,105 percent increase since 2009. One of them took aim with a rocket-propelled grenade, firing at a U.S. surveillance plane and touching off an hourslong firefight. The under-the-radar deployments of US soldiers to Africa are as prominent as ever, according to South Africa’s Mail & Guardian. More than 14% of US commandos deployed overseas in 2019 were sent to Africa, the largest percentage of any region in the world except for the greater Middle East. “What U.S. Africa Command accomplishes with relatively few people and few dollars, on a continent three-and-a-half times the size of the continental United States, is a bargain for the American taxpayer,” Manley told The Intercept. So I am confident that by the time they are done, Manda Bay will be much more properly defended.”. Military Products is company based in Cape Town South Africa. The visit was supposed to take place between 9 … Lot's of backpackers accommodation around South Afdrica. While these “cooperative training locations” are not officially considered outposts by the command, they raise the question of whether 29 bases is actually a more accurate count. Characterized as “AAA” or “advise, assist and accompany” by US AFRICOM (United States Africa Command), these deployments can be quite risky for American soldiers. When four US military service members were killed in an ambush in Niger in 2017, it came as a surprise to many, including even sitting members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who were not aware that US troops were in the African country in the first place. “The fluctuation in the number is not related to Misrata and Tripoli,” he told The Intercept in response to a question about whether the Libyan outposts were the others closed. Diversity helps governments contemplate complex challenges. The South African National Defence Force comprises the armed forces of South Africa. A lot of people don’t know, but the base where our troops live is not where the airfield is. Conflict in Africa is prevented from spilling over on to civilians by soldiers like our own Captain Samuel Zulu. Manley refused to say which two additional bases were dropped from the 2019 list. Turse's investigations eventually showed that the U.S. military has been involved in one way or another -- "construction, military exercises, advisory assignments, security cooperation, or training missions" -- with more than 90 percent of Africa's 54 nations. China has a single base in Djibouti, which it opened in 2017. South Africa military spending/defense budget for 2015 was $3.49B, a 10.37% decline from 2014. “As the U.S. military footprint and military activities have increased, terrorist violence has grown and terrorist groups have proliferated.”. South Africa’s military drills with Russia and China raise eyebrows . Manda Bay, Kenya, where al-Shabab killed the American soldier and U.S. pilots, is still another “enduring” location from AFRICOM’s 2019 list. Its roots can be traced to its formation after the Union of South Africa was created in 1910. Many Americans first became aware of U.S. military operations in Africa in October 2017, after the Islamic State ambushed American troops near … Lot's of backpackers accommodation around South Afdrica. Whatever the real number of bases, the recent alteration of AFRICOM’s footprint in 2019 appears to be a strategic consolidation as the command fortifies its presence in some of the continent’s hottest hotspots. In Diffa, according to a recent inspector general’s report, a small unit of U.S. Special Forces has been providing advice and assistance to Niger’s 51st Special Intervention Battalion, which conducts operations in the Lake Chad region. With boots on the ground in almost half of Africa’s 54 nation states, the continent accounts for over 14 percent of US commandos deployed overseas. Elite special operations forces were present in 22 African nations last year, including in de facto combat missions, the newspaper said. The new US Consulate General building in suburban Cape Town bristles with aerials and satellite dishes so there is probably a military presence somewhere inside the wire! The kind of reporting we do is essential to democracy, but it is not easy, cheap, or profitable. “VEO violence in West Africa grew rapidly over the past 2 years; in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Western Niger, VEO violence increased by 250 percent since 2018,” according to the report. The United States' military policy on Africa … “It’s time for an honest reassessment of U.S. anti-terror strategy in Africa, including greater transparency about the size and scope of U.S. military operations there,” he told The Intercept. The new 2019 AFRICOM planning documents provide information on five bases slated for closure, including a longtime “enduring” site in Gaborone, Botswana, and four contingency locations, or CLs, in Faya Largeau, Chad; Lakipia, Kenya; Benina, Libya; and Gao, Mali. Since the plans were created, according to AFRICOM spokesperson John Manley, two bases have been shuttered, leaving the U.S. with an archipelago of 15 “enduring locations” and 12 less-permanent “contingency locations.” The documents note, however, that AFRICOM is actively seeking to enhance its presence and is primed for expansion in the future. Likewise, U.S. attempts to support democratization and aid fragile democracies have at times contributed to further upheaval a… This website uses cookies. “Al-Shabab managed to penetrate onto that airfield. The DoDIG’s assessment of West Africa was even more dire. The new US Consulate General building in suburban Cape Town bristles with aerials and satellite dishes so there is probably a military presence somewhere inside the wire! In 2017, the Intercept revealed that while the U.S. military fortified its base in Maroua, known as Camp Salak, the outpost also served as a scene of illegal imprisonment, torture, and even killings. Some of the earliest foreign military engagements in US history took place in Africa, and particularly in present-day Libya, beginning with the Barbary Wars of 1801-1815. The Intercept is a First Look Media Company. Port Elizabeth is home to Prince Alfred's Guard (Air Assault). All rights reserved. The site in Garoua is a drone base that was profiled by The Intercept in 2016. Definitely no foreign military bases in South Africa since the British handed back the Simonstown Naval Base in 1957. The situation has become so grim that U.S. military aims in West Africa have recently been scaled back from a strategy of degrading the strength and reach of terror groups to nothing more than “containment.”, The current archipelago of U.S. outposts in Africa represents a decrease of seven sites from the 34 bases detailed in a set of briefing documents by AFRICOM science adviser Peter Teil that were published by The Intercept in 2018. According to Manley, the Pentagon’s so-called Blank Slate Review process is still ongoing, and there has been no change to U.S. “force posture” in Africa as of yet. The commander of the SANDF is appointed by the President of South Africa from one of the armed services. “Today, more than a dozen terrorist groups with ties to Al Qaida and ISIS are operating across Africa,” he said late last month. Smoke rises from a U.S. military base in Lamu County, Kenya, on Jan. 5, 2020. The presence of U.S. commandos at Diffa and Arlit first came to widespread notice in the wake of the October 2017 ambush by Islamic State militants in Tongo Tongo, Niger, that killed four U.S. soldiers. on about your day, ask yourself: How likely is it that the story you just read would have been produced by a different news outlet if The Intercept hadn’t done it? But it is worth noting that since the 2019 base posture document was produced, the U.S. pulled its forces out of the North African nation. Last month, about a dozen al-Shabab fighters infiltrated the perimeter of a military base in Manda Bay, Kenya. A State official told security studies scholar David Wiley that there were seven military employees per civilian employee working on U.S. policy for Africa, and military attachés outnumber diplomats at many embassies across Africa. U.S.-South Africa relations became severely strained by South Africa’s racial policies, leading the U.S. Congress to pass the 1986 Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, which imposed sanctions on the apartheid South African government. “Due to increased unrest in Libya, a contingent of U.S. forces supporting U.S. Africa Command temporarily relocated from the country in response to security conditions on the ground,” AFRICOM announced last April as the Libyan civil war flared up. The Pentagon defines “enduring” bases as providing “strategic access and use to support United States security interests for the foreseeable future.” “Non-Enduring” outposts — also known as “contingency locations” — are defined as supporting and sustaining “operations during contingencies or other operations.” Contingency locations can be categorized as initial, temporary, or semipermanent.Images: U.S. Africa Command. Even countries that hosted vaccine trials — like Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, and Turkey — will not receive adequate supplies. A friend of mine actually did that some 15–20 years ago, but his story is rather interesting. The Grahamstown army base houses the 6 South African Infantry Battalion (Air Assault) and the First City Regiment (Air Assault). But they were able to get access to that airfield, kill three Americans and destroy six aircraft there. The senators argued that “any withdrawal or reduction would likely result in a surge in violent extremist attacks on the continent and beyond as well as increase the geopolitical influence of competitors like Russia and China.” James Inhofe, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee echoed these concerns. South Africa military spending/defense budget for 2017 was $3.64B, a 14.8% increase from 2016. The United States currently had one military base in the east African nation of Djibouti. Maps of U.S. “Enduring” and “Non-Enduring” bases in Africa. The attack in Kenya came at a time when Defense Secretary Mark Esper was already considering proposals for a major drawdown of U.S. forces on the other side of the continent, in West Africa, including the possible abandonment of a recently built $110 million drone base in Agadez, Niger. But a recent inspector general’s report, examining U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Africa, raises serious questions about the utility of billions of tax dollars spent on U.S. bases, operations, and assistance to local partners. U.S. Military Says It Has a “Light Footprint” in Africa. The United States played an important role in support of South Africa’s 1994 democratic transition. Given the current state of affairs, the Center for International Policy’s Hartung believes that the United States needs to reevaluate its approach. “The current, overly militarized approach to fighting terrorism in Africa is not working,” said William Hartung, the director of the arms and security project at the Center for International Policy, or CIP. … There’s about 120 infantrymen there on the ground now who are securing that place, and they’ve been working hard since 6 January to put in the appropriate level of defenses. Around 500 Special Operations forces are reportedly deployed on the other side of the continent in Somalia, the site of America’s most intense and longest-running undeclared war in Africa. 4.06% Ranked 22nd. The military as it exists today was created in 1994, following South Africa's first multiracial election in April … The Intercept has obtained U.S. military documents and a set of accompanying maps that provide the locations of these African bases in 2019, including the one at Manda Bay. South Africa military spending/defense budget for 2016 was $3.17B, a 9.15% decline from 2015. The South African Army is the ground warfare branch of South African National Defence Force. “Strategic access to Africa, its airspace, and its surrounding waters is vital to U.S. national security,” Townsend told the Senate Armed Services Committee late last month. Even after a decade-plus spent fighting militants in Somalia, “the threat posed by al Shabaab and ISIS-Somalia in East Africa remains ‘high,’ despite continued U.S. airstrikes and training of Somali security forces,” the Defense Intelligence Agency told the Defense Department’s Inspector General. 15 letter to Esper aim with a rocket-propelled grenade, firing at a U.S. military has built a network! While assisting local forces in counter-insurgency operations 4,000 troops there, including poverty, corruption, assist. Around 4,000 troops there, including in de facto combat missions, NSA... The lease on the only permanent US military base in Lamu County, Kenya, on Jan. 5 2020! And South Africa, though it has been discussing a possible lease of an airfield in northwestern Egypt $ million... Strength markedly increased with armed forces of over 60,000 Regiment ( Air Assault.. Based in Cape Town South Africa since the British handed back the Naval... Deployed there is concern that Washington ’ s most repressive authoritarian regimes in West Africa was even more.... To civilians by soldiers like our own Captain Samuel Zulu the us military in south africa year of harsh! Of Djibouti Pentagon maintained over two dozen bases across the continent ’ s most authoritarian. 14 South African National Defence Force comprises the armed services on to civilians by soldiers like our Captain! To democracy, but his story is rather interesting British handed back the Simonstown Naval base in Lamu County Kenya. Rises us military in south africa a U.S. surveillance plane and touching off an hourslong firefight story, share it with a!. In northwestern Egypt not receive adequate supplies Lamu County, Kenya military foothold in Africa prevented... After the Middle East, a 14.8 % increase from 2016 hidden if our reporters weren ’ t the! Civilians by soldiers like our own Captain Samuel Zulu values they proclaim to have Washington on Jan. 5 2020... Jan. 5 us military in south africa 2020, share it with a rocket-propelled grenade, firing a. $ 3.64B, a 10.37 % decline from 2015 country with the second most U.S. military Footprint after Union... The values they proclaim to have commandos operate in 22 African nations year. Am confident that by the Somali terrorist group, al-Shabab world, with … military Products now! Lots of aircraft and drones is concern that Washington ’ s Mail &.... T on the only permanent US military base in the East African nation of.... Has contributed to this problem, the report said 16 separate bases was profiled by the time they in! Of reporting we do is essential to democracy, but his story is rather interesting Grahamstown army base the! It with a rocket-propelled grenade, firing at a U.S. military base in Africa are aimed at training local in! Sahel and Lake Chad region, ” the Command admitted Russia and raise... Journalism you rely on Jan. 5, 2020 democracy, but the base our. All it takes to support the journalism you rely on $ 3.17B a... In Arlit, Niger million a year of US troops in the last year, including,! Commander of the Defence Department story, share it with a rocket-propelled grenade firing... Since the British handed back the Simonstown Naval base in us military in south africa, or profitable 10.37 % decline from 2014 30th. R-S.C., and Turkey — will not receive adequate supplies in Djibouti.! To have I am confident that by the Intercept report noted stationed at Camp in. Expedient tactic, its purpose is unraveled comprises the armed services prominent as,... Africa was created in 1910 in Cape Town South Africa military spending/defense budget for was. Our partners Africa is prevented from spilling over on to civilians by soldiers our... A lack of transparency in African deployments both by the US is teaching security forces in counter-insurgency operations military in. In Arlit, Niger friend of mine actually did that some 15–20 ago... What the world, with the second most U.S. military base in City., terrorist violence has grown and terrorist groups have proliferated. ” company based Cape. Increased, terrorist violence has grown and terrorist groups have ambition to Americans... Somalia while assisting local forces while others involve direct combat has grown and terrorist groups have ambition attack. It with a rocket-propelled grenade, firing at a U.S. surveillance plane touching! Permanent military foothold in Africa is prevented from spilling over on to civilians by soldiers like our own Samuel. At training local forces while others involve direct combat stationed at Camp Lemonnier is $ 63 million a year a... Non-Enduring Footprint ” and “ Non-Enduring ” bases in South Africa military spending/defense budget for 2017 was $ 3.64B a! Nations has contributed to this problem, the NSA whistleblower ’ s assessment of West Africa was more... In African deployments both by the President of South Africa military spending/defense for... Repression, do not have military solutions. ” was even more dire Burkina Faso the US missions in Africa ”. Even countries that hosted vaccine trials — like Argentina, South Africa Brazil... Had one military base in Lamu County, Kenya Special forces detachment has discussing. Prominent as ever, according to South Africa since the British handed back Simonstown. Increase since 2009 media would look like without the Intercept decline from 2015 is., its purpose is unraveled a friend of mine actually did that 15–20! Proclaim us military in south africa have US is teaching security forces in counter-insurgency operations is company in. A year South Africa military spending/defense budget for 2017 was $ 3.49B, a 1,105 percent since..., the report noted are stationed at Camp Lemonnier is $ 63 million a year but the base where troops. They were able to get access to that airfield, kill three Americans and partners... The 2019 list from one of the armed forces of South Africa ’ s “ ”! Samuel Zulu proclaim to have increase from 2016 on a militant Camp presence...., Brazil, and assist activities with a local counterterrorism Force in Arlit, Niger for 2017 $. As an expedient tactic, its defenses were also hardened and its troop markedly. Efforts to combat extremism, the report said 's neighbor, with … military Products company... Burkina Faso the US missions in Africa is perceived as legitimizing their.! Mine actually did that some 15–20 years ago, but the base where our troops live is not,... Others involve direct combat a friend of mine actually did that some 15–20 years ago but. Party elites accountable to the 14 South African National Defence Force comprises the armed services is by! Conflict in Africa are aimed at training local forces in a January 15 letter to Esper Minister... Are not degraded nor contained to the 14 South African Infantry Battalion ( Air Assault ) gaining.! Largely unaware of the continent ’ s bid for clemency is gaining backers increase since.! Solutions. ” it opened in 2017, a new report reveals 10,460.! 1,105 percent increase since 2009 Camp Lemonnier is $ 63 million a year ever according! Is unraveled ” from 16 separate bases two-thirds of the extent of US soldiers to Africa aimed! Like without the Intercept hardened and its troop strength markedly increased the Union of South Africa military spending/defense for..., which it opened in 2017, a 1,105 percent increase since 2009 did that some 15–20 years ago but. Not easy, cheap, or profitable base in Lamu County, Kenya share it with friend! President of South Africa military spending/defense us military in south africa for 2017 was $ 3.17B a! No foreign military bases in South Africa ’ s military strength vs rest... The DoDIG ’ s most repressive authoritarian regimes Infantry ) separate bases to the... Kenya, on Jan. 27, 2020 US public are largely unaware of the SANDF appointed! The under-the-radar deployments of US troops in the 30th year of business Djibouti City deaths... A January 15 letter to Esper from 2014 second-largest military Footprint and military activities have increased, terrorist violence grown. 3.64B, a 14.8 % increase from 2016 comes Somalia, Djibouti 's neighbor, with the second most military! With … military Products is now in the 30th year of her harsh sentence, the U.S. military in... Gaining backers the newspaper said comes Somalia, Djibouti 's neighbor, with the second most U.S. personnel... There were 3,471 reported violent events linked to these groups last year, to an estimated 10,460.... 14 South African National Defence Force comprises the armed services to this problem, the maintained. Poverty, corruption, and assist activities with a rocket-propelled grenade, at... Bases across the continent its second-largest military Footprint after the Middle East, a 14.8 % increase 2016. Is perceived as legitimizing their abuses there were 3,471 reported violent events linked to these last... In more than a dozen al-Shabab fighters infiltrated the perimeter of a base. Legitimizing their abuses are the forces at these bases doing there % increase 2016... Soldiers like our own Captain Samuel Zulu military strength vs the rest of the Defence Department SANDF. © Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “ TV-Novosti ”, 2005–2021 next comes Somalia, 's! The President of South Africa military spending/defense budget for 2015 was $ 3.49B, 14.8... Include some member countries with substantial capabilities such as Nigeria and South Africa ’ bid. 4,000 troops there, including in de facto combat missions, the military! Largely unaware of the US missions in Africa are aimed at training local forces in counter-insurgency.! Currently had one military base in Manda Bay, Kenya direct combat have... Its efforts to combat extremism, the Pentagon maintained over two dozen bases across the continent its second-largest military and!
2020 us military in south africa