The US Army recently provided training for the Malawi Defence Force; the military of the small country in southeastern Africa. The Malawi soldiers received training in convoy and deployment operations in preparation for their involvement with UN peace keeping missions. This is just part of a growing trend for the US military: increased involvement in Africa. Despite the so-called pivot to Asia, the military is increasingly involved on the continent and in many cases in not so mundane activities:
Over the past two years, the Pentagon has become embroiled in conflicts in Libya, Somalia, Mali and central Africa. Meantime, the Air Force is setting up a fourth African drone base, while Navy warships are increasing their missions along the coastlines of East and West Africa.
In scope and expense, the U.S. military involvement in Africa still barely registers when compared with its presence in Asia, let alone the Middle East or Afghanistan. On any given day, there are only about 5,000 U.S. troops scattered across all of Africa, while 28,000 are stationed in South Korea alone.
But it is becoming more common for the Pentagon to deploy troops to parts of Africa that many Americans would be hard-pressed to locate on a map, such as Djibouti, the Central African Republic and now the West African country of Niger, where the U.S. military is planning a base for Predator drones.
Pentagon officials say their expanded involvement in Africa is necessary to combat the spread of al-Qaeda affiliates in North Africa and Somalia and other guerrillas such as Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army. And while U.S. military leaders have sought to downplay their rudimentary network of bases on the continent, there are signs that they are planning for a much more robust presence.
Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Shaun O’Brien, Specialists Brandon Yenney, Orin McMahan, Bronson Shipman and Isaac Leihy, Sight Security Team 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery, form a secure perimeter during a personnel recovery training mission in the deserts of Djibouti. (U.S. Army photo by Specialist Michelle C. Lawrence)