This Week in War


This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism. Subscribe here to receive this round-up by email.

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Photo: Kabul, Afghanistan. An Afghan soldier stands guard at the presidential palace on June 25th following a Taliban attack. Shah Merai/AFP/Getty


Inside Story Americas – Obama’s Speech and the Question of Drones

US President Barack Obama gave a speech that was meant to contextualise the global drone war that has escalated under his presidency, outline the framework for future targeted killing, and address concerns about the continued operation of Guantanamo Bay. But did he succeed? To discuss this, Inside Story Americas, with presenter Shihab Rattansi, is joined by guests: Carlos Warner, a lawyer for Guantanamo detainees; and Hina Shamsi, the director of the ACLU’s National Security Project.

Chomsky Talks “Dirty Wars” with Scahill and Goodman

Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Scahill, and Amy Goodman discuss the book “Dirty Wars”

Shadow Wars: US Military Remains in Mali

French in MaliThe US military presence in Mali will continue, even if it may be in a limited capacity. Stars and Stripes reports that a small contingent of about ten US military personnel are remaining in the country to provide support to the French and the African-led International Support Mission to Mali:

Since France’s January intervention in Mali, the U.S. has been providing a range of support for the international effort there, including information-sharing, airlift support and air refueling. “To date, we have provided more than 7.8 million pounds of fuel to French aircraft. We have also moved approximately 1,000 personnel and 1,500 tons of equipment,” AFRICOM spokesman Benjamin Benson said.

Also since early 2013, small numbers of military personnel have been in Mali to facilitate coordination with regional allies, according to AFRICOM.

“I cannot provide details on where the personnel providing liaison support have been located due to operational security limitations,” Benson said. “The number has varied as individuals have rotated in and out of Mali since early this year. We remain committed to supporting the French and African forces as they address the security challenges in northern Mali.”

For more than a year, Mali has been in a state of political turmoil. In March 2012, a U.S.-trained mid-level Mali army officer led a coup in the nation, which previously was regarded as one of Africa’s more stable democracies. That forced AFRICOM to suspend military ties with the country, but a small number of troops always remained stationed in the country as part of the U.S. Embassy team.

Read more here.

Photo: French military personnel in Mali.

Pivot to Shadow Wars in Africa

Site Security TeamThe 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.

Read more here.

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)