Thursday, March 26, 2009

AFRICOM: The US Military Presence in Africa

By David Barouski
February 25, 2008

AFRICOM may officially be staying in Germany for now, but that will not be the case forever, and the US military is anything but absent on the continent. A regional AFRICOM center is reportedly going to be quietly housed in either Rwanda or Tanzania, with Rwanda as the frontrunner according to sources from the region. Rwanda already has a US-built cargo plane (C-130) military airport in Bugesera (used by MPRI to airlift Rwandan soldiers in AMIS/UNAMID and supplies to El-Fasher, where the CIA housed a base in the 1980s to counter Col. Gaddafi by supplying Hissen Habre) and a listening station near Mount Karisimbi.

The US also has a communications center (run by MPRI employees) in Kisangani in neighboring DRC, officially to support the Tripartite Agreement framework and aid in patrolling the Rwanda-Uganda-DRC border. This station is complimented by the recently created US satellite embassy in Goma, run by Mr. Haywood Rankin, who worked in Iraq and Sudan previously.

Tanzania has small military bases located in different places near Dar es Salaam and in the north of the country that could potentially be used, as some of them are already US joint-military training centers for Tanzanian, Rwandan, Kenyan, and other regional armed forces, some working through the Golden Spear program. The US has been using Entebbe Airport in Uganda for many years, as well as smaller airstrips in the north. The US also has an airfield near Bamako, Mali, Dakar, Senegal, and an airstrip in Gabon. The US also uses private airfields in Morocco and Tunisia, along with utilizing their ports. The US has 'refueling' stations in Ghana, Senegal, Gabon, Namibia, Uganda, and Zambia. During the 1990s, the 3rd Special Forces group that was involved in Haiti, Rwanda, and Congo-Zaire held training and demining exercises in Zambia. The island of Diego Garcia holds US weapons stockpiles, military personnel, and airbases.

The US Navy has agreements with numerous nations, particluarly in West Africa, to utilize their ports, including Ghana, Benin, Gabon, Cameroon, Liberia, Republic of Congo, Togo, Sao Tome and Principe, and Equatorial Guinea. In this capacity, they periodically carry out military exercises with the host nations. This is the same expanse of land the West African Gas Pipeline is expected to be built.

The US military uses the airport in Tamanrasset, Algeria to accomodate C-130s, P-3 Orions, and Predator drones and Brown and Root-Condor, a joint venture between former Halliburton subsidary Brown and Root and Sonatrach, a state-owned Algerian company, is contracted to expand the Tamanrasset base as well as open up a new one at Bou Saada. The US is now pushing to declare former British Somaliland an independent nation.

The US has a base in Mombasa, Kenya, and uses the airfields at Embakasi and Nanyuki. They also have listening stations on the islands of Lamu, Pate, and Burr Gaabo. There are also reportedly listening stations in Garissa, Kilifi, and in Somalia's Ras Kambooni. In addition, the US has been trying to secure a base in Somaliland since at least 2000. Currently, the US and UK are pressing for diplomatic recognition of an independent former British Somaliland.

In Ethiopia, the US has small training bases at Bilate, Gode [supposedly closed] and Hurso. Their larger bases are located at the Debre Zeit airbase near Addis, in the Ogaden region, and in Tigre Province near the Eritrea border. North of Ethiopia is well-known Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, a former French Foreign Legion post revamped in 2002 by Kellogg, Brown, and Root. One of Bin Laden's brothers wants to build a massive bridge from Djibouti to Yemen, where the US is also entrenched. The US currently has a military base on the Yemeni island of Socotra, which they had acquired prior to the terrorist bombing of the USS Cole. The Israelis had a signals intercept station called "Unit 8200" on Dahlak Island (part of Eritrea) that was used to aid the SPLA during the late 1990s. The US has also established a military base in southern Libya under the guise of the Pan Sahel anti-terrorism program, where covert activites related to Chad and Sudan are reportedly taking place. This initiative recently carries out the massive Flintlock training program on a biannual basis.

David Barouski
February 25, 2008

The new US Embassy in Kigali, inaugurated last week by President Bush during his visit to Rwanda, also reportedly contains a high-powered listening station. The US also has a training base in Gao, Mali. Additionally, the US has a large Air Force base in Botswana that houses C-130s. The 3rd and 10th Special Forces also train Chadian soldiers at a small base in Camp Loumia, located 50km south of N'Djamena.



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