Home Editorial AFRICOM and the Recolonisation of Africa – A Must Read Article

AFRICOM and the Recolonisation of Africa – A Must Read Article

General Carter Ham
AFRICOM combatant General Carter Ham

“The fact that, Blacks look like human beings and act like human beings do not necessarily make them sensible human beings.  Hedgehogs are not porcupines and lizards are not crocodiles simply because they look alike.  If God wanted us to be equal to the Blacks, he would have created us all of a uniform colour and intellect…By now every one of us has seen it practically that the Blacks cannot rule themselves.  Give them guns and they will kill each other.  They are good in nothing else but making noise, dancing, marrying many wives and indulging in sex…”-P.W. Botha to his cabinet (the Sunday Times, August 18, 1985).

Every lion would always seek to protect its territory. And that is precisely what the White House seeks to achieve in Africa with AFRICOM. To any discerning, enlightened and ever conscious African, this would however, spells the end of an ‘independent sovereign Africa’, by the virtue of the fact that it would negate the more, the deep nostalgia and nationalistic and enduring dream of an ‘Africa for Africans’, fired shortly after the end of the Second World War.

Presently, a good chunk of the oil consume in America is from Africa, in terms of stability in supply and quality. By projection, in few years about 25% of American energy needs is expected from Africa alone. This is a doom for the United States, if there is any disruption in such highly needed source of material from Africa for a nation that is heavily depended on fossil fuel and with such monumental excessive craze for energy for its burgeoning industries, super military industrial complex and insatiable consumer markets.Moreover, the most potent breeding ground for international terrorism against Western interests from the time of Ilich Ramírez Sánchez with the nom de guerre ‘Carlos the Jackal’ (serving a life sentence in La Sante prison in Paris and recently resentenced for another round) has always been Africa. Carlos achieved notoriety for a 1975 raid on the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, resulting in the deaths of three people before being flown into Algiers after a heavy ransom by Ex-Royal Navy pilot Neville Atkinson, who at that time was the personal pilot for Libya’s leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, (Jackal: The Complete Story of the Legendary Terrorist Carlos the Jackal; by John Follain. Arcade Publishing, 1988.

Geographically, we know that Africa boosts of some of the highly expansive wild and wide vast tracks of virgin and remote lands, such tracks of unconquered land or ‘no man’s land’ offers a safe haven to any fugitive or deviant personality escaping from prying eyes. And in actual fact, Al Qaeda progenitor initially had his not so secret nest in the Horn of Africa.

The aggressive and monumental inroad of China into Africa in recent time is worrisome to the Americans. Sino-African relation, according to policy makers in America must be checked at all cost. It could be noted that, political and economic relations between China and Africa, could be traced to the era of Mao Zedong, popularly known as ‘Chairman Man’(the builder of modern China) and subsequently improved upon by every successive Government in China. By 2005, Sino-African trade had reached US$55 billion making China the second largest trading partner of Africa after the United States, which had trade worth of about US$91 billion with African nations and surpassing those from European nations like United Kingdom and France, both former colonial powers in Africa.(China boosts African economies, offering a ‘second opportunity’. Christian Science Monitor, 2009).Today, there is an estimated 800 Chinese corporations doing business in Africa, out weighing those from elsewhere. In Nigeria, a major source of crude oil supply to the United States, China controls 45% of all offshore oil reserves. The United Kingdom and the United States have therefore, never hidden their concerns over the political, economic and military roles China is playing in the African continent and the danger it portends in the nearest future. And therefore, regard, such as the greatest threat to international capitalism, since the end and capitulation of international socialism as a sort of state ideology, despite, China response with its ‘Nine Principles to Encourage and Standardize Enterprises’ Overseas Investment’ devoid of any ‘neo-colonialism ‘objectives as charged by the Western nations.

Historically, in November 2000, in an article titled “PARAMETERS’, published in the US Army War College Quarterly, a U.S. military officer wrote about the needs for the American Government for the formation of an African Command .Then the Bush administration was just settling down in office, while September 11 was still ten months away. Remotely, the foundation for a command of such nature could be traced to the electioneering campaign of Bush, who had as his central focus – ”Renewing America’s Purpose”, a principle which includes the establishment of America’s figure as a military power all over the world, as a paradigm basis for George H .Bush‘s attempt for a ‘New World Order’. George W.Bush (the Junior Bush) had intended to build a ‘super bumper missile shield’ commonly known as the ‘Super Aegis missile shield’ to defend America and its allies against any perceived and emerging threat from any quarter of the world, most especially the ‘Axis of evil’ (Donald L. Gilleland: Missile defense shield is necessary to protect United States from rogue states). Therefore, with its partners and allies, the United States had built and sustained Military High Commands throughout the world but Africa, with USEUCOM, USCENTCOM, USENORTHCOM, USESOUTHCOM and USPACOM, mostly for swift mobilization of American forces into any troubled spots around the world.

However, in January 2002 ,a report from the African Oil Policy Initiative Group(AOPIG),finally  played a role in getting discussions about such a command started in Africa, within the U.S. national security community, though its specific recommendation was to create a subcommand for the Gulf of Guinea. By that time, the ghost of September 11 was active and still haunting and hunting the Western world. The AOPIG (and its sister group, U.S –Africa Energy Association with membership drawn from major oil multinationals like Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Chevron, Texaco et alia) report emphasized that the U.S. National Intelligence Council has estimated that the United States will buy 25 percent of its oil from Africa by 2015(Christian Science Monitor’s article titled “With Mideast uncertainty, US turns to Africa for oil”, May 2002). And to ensure, unhindered flow and access of and to such highly needed energy for the American market, a central command is highly imperative in the Gulf of Guinea. Such command, if put in place could easily protect America’s interest through afore mentioned multinationals.

Particularly, areas of increasing interest to the United States in Africa include the Sahara/Sahel region, by which  its Joint Task Force Aztec Silence is conducting anti-terrorist operations (known as ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ – Trans Sahara), the Horn of Africa, where Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa is located in Djibouti (conducting operations which have been code named ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ – Horn of Africa), and the Gulf of Guinea, whose oil resources are expected to gain in more importance to the United States (US targets Sahara ‘terrorist haven'”. BBC, 8 August 2005): with complementary, air bases, including those in Ethiopia, Kenya and the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles, armed with best high-tech surveillance technology.

AFRICOM trainers are all over Africa

Initially, a Joint Combined Exchange Training FLINTLOCK , which is a multi-national military exercise designed to build relationships among security forces throughout the Trans-Saharan region was activated. With the aim of fostering regional counterterrorism partnership and collaboration between the United States, European and African forces. In 2010, more than 1200 personnel from 14 nations focused on interoperability which included tactical and strategic training events in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Mauritania, Mali and Senegal( ’The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership’). Between 2nd and 23rd of May, 2012, AFRICOM began a training exercise in the Sahara called Flintlock 10. The exercise formed part of the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) and is the latest in a series of Flintlock missions that began in 2005 with the US military’s “biggest exercise in Africa since World War Two.” Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso houses the mission’s command center for the exercise (FLINLOCK).

In March,2011,the ensuing civil war in Libya offered the U.S ,its first ever major break to test run and enter gun-ho into Africa territory, militarily. And hence, ‘Operation Odyssey Dawn’ was the first major combat deployment directed by Africa Command, as a litmus test against Muammar Gadhafi to enforce the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, shrewdly tagged, the ‘protection of the Libyan people from the country’s ruler’. Or a  ’time-limited, scope-limited’ action (according to White House, Press Secretary, Jay Carney  to the nation, on 24 Mar 2011,in his defense of America’s participation in the Libyan civil war on CNN 25 Mar 2011. (Ham Carter. “STATEMENT: AFRICOM Commander on Commencement of Military Strikes in Libya.” AFRICOM, 19 March 2011. And Jim Garamone .Coalition Launches ‘Operation Odyssey Dawn’. American Forces press Service, 19 Mar, 2011).

During the Libyan civil war, the joint Task Force ‘Operation Odyssey Dawn’ was commanded by the U.S Navy Adm.Samuel J.Locklear from aboard the command ship USS Mount Whitney, with about 23 ships from Italy, Canada, the U.k and France. While the strategic command of operation Odyssey was under the authority of General Carter Ham, the Combatant Commander of the United States Africa command, AFRICOM.

In other words, Libyan territory was exploited as a guinea pig to test run, the capability of the coalition forces in term of command and control, logistics, mobilization, supplies, responsiveness and alertness, it worked. The Libya’s integrated air and missile defense system i.e radars, anti-air craft sites were quickly and permanently decimated with judicious use of Tomahawk cruise missiles. While B-2 spirit bombers targeted 45 hardened aircraft shelters .EA-18G growlers proved reliable in jamming Libyan radar and communications. War planes like Av-8B Harriers, F-15E Strike Eagle and F-16C Fighting Falcon, laser guided bombs targeted tanks. On warning system EC-130 keep warning Libyan vessel from leaving port or risk being attacked and destroyed immediately in Arabic, French and English. (Listen :Secret Libya psyops,20 Mar,2011).As expected the U.S was responsible for 80% of air refueling,75% aerial surveillance hours and 100% electronic warfare missions(see DOD News Briefing with Vice Adm. Gortney from the Pentagon on Libya Operation Odyssey Dawn, US Dept,29 Mar 2011).

All the military components that would eventually be in operation for AFRICOM were effectively used against Libya-U.S. Army Africa (USARAF), U.S. Naval Forces, Africa (NAVAF), 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa) [17AF (AFAFRICA)], and the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Africa (MARFORAF).There is no doubt that, the unfortunate crisis in Libya was like a drill to test run, the entirety of the likely picture expected from a futuristic Africa!

Before now, AFRICOM is located at Kelley Barracks, a small urban facility on the outskirts of Stuttgart, the sixth largest city in Germany. In addition, the command has military and civilian personnel assigned at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, with approximately 2,300 troops; Molesworth, United Kingdom; MacDill Air Force Base, Florida; and in Offices of Security Cooperation and Defense Attaché Offices in 36 African countries. U.S. Africa Command completed fiscal year 2010 with approximately 2,000 assigned personnel, which includes military, civilian, contractor, and host nation employees. About 1,500 personnel work at the command’s main headquarters in Stuttgart. Others are assigned to the command’s units in England and Florida, along with security cooperation officers posted at U.S. embassies and diplomatic missions in Africa to coordinate Defense Department programs within the host nation.

While the military High Command for AFRICOM is expected to work with other U.S. Government agencies, which is to include the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which according to the U.S is ‘to assist our African partners in developing national and regional security institution capabilities that promote security and stability and facilitate development.’It was reported in June 2007 that African countries were competing to host the headquarters because it would bring a lot of returns for the recipient country, (The Economist, ‘Policing the under governed spaces, 16–22 June 2007, p.46). However, of all the African nations, only Liberia was said to have publicly expressed a willingness to host AFRICOM’s headquarters. While, a newspaper in Sudan, the Sudan Tribune came up with the captions-‘Ethiopia is ready to cooperate with US Africa Command – Zenawi”. (Sudan Tribune. 19 May 2011).Pointing out that Ethiopia, a strong U.S. ally in the region, will house USAFRICOM’s headquarters due to the collocation of AFRICOM with the African Union’s developing peace and security apparatus. While, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia has officially stated in early November 2011, that Ethiopia would be willing to work together closely with USAFRICOM. According to a publication in Times of December 5, 2007, a top U.S. Air Force official had confirmed the adoption of Addis Ababa as the headquarters of AFRICOM.Meanwhile during his during his official announcement of the establishment of AFRICOM on 6 February 2007, President Bush had maintained that the United States will be consulting with African leaders to seek their thoughts on how Africa Command can respond to security challenges and opportunities in Africa. And that America will also work closely ‘with our African partners to determine an appropriate location for the new command in Africa.”(‘President Bush Creates a Department of Defense Unified Combatant Command for Africa’. Georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. 6 February 2007.)

However, it should be noted that unlike other American Forces in other continents of the world, AFRICOM is a pointer to the fact that Africans cannot effectively govern themselves, maintain internal cohesion, secure the territorial integrity of their borders, have respect for human rights, establish economic and social progress for its teeming population, all within the ambits of the reality of a globalized world. In other words, American military presence in Europe, Asia and the Pacific is to act as a buffer and shield against expected and unexpected threat mostly from a rogue state like Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan among others. But in Africa, the game plan is quite different.

It is rather, therefore ironic and instructive that the former Libyan strong man, who had hitherto acted as a bulwark against the presence of such super military complex in Africa, was exploited as the best bet to test run the mobilization and activation of the same. Little wonder then that ,immediately, General Carter was able to quickly achieved the aim of his ‘drilling exercise’ ,he transferred what remained to NATO Joint Command ,which included France, U.K, Belgium, Canada, Denmark , Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, U.S on one side , U.A.E and Qatar on the other side.

Having pointed all these out, with fact and figures from various sources, the obvious manifest danger of AFRICOM is that, it is like an euphemism on itself for ‘colonialization’ of Africa. From hence forth, every leader in Africa must learn to kowtow to the command represented by ARICOM or be forced out of ‘circulation’. Concomitantly, no African nation would henceforth be able to enforce its territorial sovereignty an ounce, any longer. That is to state that external manipulations and interest would supersede the national interest of most African nations, if not all.

Multinational companies involved in extractive industries, that hitherto worked with some corrupt African officials and leaders to short change their countries, and undermine the wellbeing of their host communities, would now have a field day to operate more aggressively without any regard to the flora and fauna of such host communities, needless to add with more greater impunity than hitherto, for ‘he who wield the sword, control everything in sight’.Besides, in the his testimony before the American Congress in March, 2012, the Africa Command chief, had clearly spewed it out that he was seeking to establish a base for surveillance flights in Nzara, South Sudan to bolster the hunt for Joseph Kony, and ferret out his Lord’s Resistance Army, keep an eye on the worsening conflict between Sudan and South Sudan, at the verge of another round of civil war after two decades of wars and in possession of potentially rich oil deposits valued by American and Europeans. Therefore, needless to ask, of whose interest is all these?

It is therefore believe, that the most important thing now, is for Africans to rise up and protect their place in history. This is like a wishful thinking. But it worth trying .Just as some young ‘Turks’ did in the University of Ibadan in the early 60s in Ibadan, Nigeria, against the setting up of British Forces in Nigeria .shortly after independence.

The presence of international forces on African soil, would clearly expose Africa to a seemingly avoidable tug-of-war, and eventually make Africa vulnerable as a direct target in the long run and in case of any outbreak of the third World War (Africa was largely unscratched in the first two World Wars) or in case of any nuclear holocaust . A glimpse of what to expect was fired recently, when the Iranian military show cased its ICBM missiles capabilities to strike up to 35 bases controlled by the U.S. On the short run, as pointed out initially, it would make the leadership and administration in Africa much more corrosive, dependent, and inclined to anything American policy, not asimilar to the British’s gun boat principle at the height of colonialism in the 19th  century. He who wields a gun controls every man around d sceneIn other words, all these can be likened to a purulent tip of a terrible boil, of what I have come to term as a roller coaster type of life, with no iota of sense of proportion for the day, nor any foresight or accurate prediction and plans for a better, and enduring future. There is no doubt that, the manifest picture of Africa is of a continent that lives according to the dictate of the season and time like the beasts of the field. And that is the graphic picture of the state of events in Africa unlike other continents of the world.

‘There’s only one good, knowledge and one evil, ignorance’. Socrates


By; Shola Adebowale
Mr. Adebowale is a prolific freelance writer, syndicated columnist, researcher, and blogger. He specializes in telecommunications, Internet trends, and investment portfolio.

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