U.S. Africa Command projected it could transfer air-crafts with Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities worth $51.5 million to several African countries including Uganda, Djibouti Burundi, and slave trading Mauritania.
Intelligence shows that the US defense department has authorized this deployment whose objective is increasing the effectiveness of U.S. counter-terrorism operations.
Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) is a surveillance system that uses radar ISR, optical ISR and passive electronic ISR sensors to gather intelligence. This technology is mainly fitted in fast jets, large airliner class transport airframes, satellites, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).
The US will transfer in its defense fleet a specific type of air-crafts that carries an ISR system or an ISR payload, and may or may not be manned.
With such technology, Uganda that is emerging as a regional defense and security power, can easily spy on its neighbors and gather invaluable intelligence on its neighbors, rebels, and other forms of threats to its national security.
Uganda is also a beneficiary of the United States Defense Department new security assistance program in East Africa. Uganda will benefit from a $4.4million program to provide UPDF with counter-terrorism training and equipment.
The program is part of an initial project by the defense department’s U.S. Africa Command security assistance program in East Africa. According to Pentagon’s Lt. Col. James Gregory, Uganda will be provided with communications and intelligence training besides modern communications and engineeringequipment.
While Pentagon insists that the core mission is to equip and bolster UPDF capability in fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army LRA, intelligence shows, there is more in the program than LRA. There exists very close military ties between Uganda and the United States.
When Uganda and the Obama administration began military cooperation, there were several pointers to intense relations where the United States seems in control of all UPDF operations both in Mogadishu Somalia, and in the LRA operations. Reports shows that the US prohibits UPDF against launching operations in Mogadishu or against LRA without US approval. There are weaknesses in UPDF capabilities without US help. UPDF cannot utilize US intelligence without US approval. Every time they do, they goof. UPDF must consult US intelligence and defense officials before they launch these operations.
There is a gradual shift in the American military interests in the East and Central African region. Whereas they used to savor Kenya and Ethiopia, the Americans are more interested in a powerful Uganda and a weak Kenya. There is a shift in both economic and security policies with oil being a driver.
Uganda is close to start producing oil, LRA poses a significant threat to this economic boon. The United States finds LRA as their choice entry point to Ugandan security and economic possibility. By providing the solution to Uganda’s longest internal security problem, the US scores well in closing a significant bilateral trade agreement which covers oil imports from Uganda at fairly cheap rates in exchange for defense and intelligence technology and support.
It becomes complex for the Americans since Kenya joined the league with oil discovery and the Americans had to try, and change their hardened stance.
What we are witnessing is the usual ‘petro-dollar’ diplomacy and the Americans are desperate for a piece of the cake. There is a high possibility of increased funding to the Kenyans owing to the big and functional economy, besides, if their oil is confirmed commercially viable, and the electioneering assails peacefully, besides winning the war in Somalia, the Americans will redraw their military cooperation with Kenya before the end of 2012.
While the US Defense department insists, it had carried out similar projects in Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Uganda, and Burundi, it is the efforts, and a series of military programs throughout 2011 and 2012 in Uganda that rules out mere enhance the capabilities of Eastern African countries besides mitigate and eliminate the threat to civilians and regional stability.