Forces: June 13, 2003

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With the collapse of organized resistance in Iraq, the Pentagon unveiled plans to significantly shift the 70,000 troops in Germany to Africa and the Caucasus. While both regions present strong reasons for a greater American role, Africa may have the most pressing stability and economic demands. The United States has just sent 35 troops to reinforce their embassy in Monrovia, Liberia and another 34 to Nouakchott, Mauritania. An unspecified number of aircraft were ordered to move to Dakar, to aid in any evacuations of US nationals in either country.

U.S. officials also noted that a key mission would be to ensure the stability of Nigeria's oil fields. The United States depends on sub-Saharan Africa for 15 percent of its oil and that percentage is expected to as much as 25 percent in the next decade. But Africa needs America just as much, with sub-Saharan African exports to the US jumping 45 percent last year. Under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), 38 countries are eligible for tariff-free and quota-free access to the US market. Viable jobs and stable economies are the best solutions for decades of chaos, but it's hard to ship products when child-soldiers are trading RPG shots in the streets.

So the Pentagon is considering establishing semipermanent bases in Algeria, Morocco and possibly Tunisia, expecting to keep a small number of troops at these facilities and rotating through larger forces. More-austere bases would be established in Senegal, Ghana, Mali and Kenya. Almost all of the facilities under consideration would require infrastructure improvements, which would benefit the local economies. Unfortunately, this presents a huge opportunity for graft and bill-padding, whether by American or local contractors. 

America's assets that are usually focused on Africa have been affected by the larger war on terrorism, but are now slowly returning to the area. The 3rd Special Forces Group specializes in this area and for over five years, Green Berets have been working on the African Crisis Response Initiative have trained more than 8,600 African soldiers, from Senegal, Kenya, Malawi, Benin, Uganda and Mali. - Adam Geibel


3rd Special Forces Group, online at:
http://www.groups.sfahq.com/3rd/

African Crisis Response Initiative, online at:
http://usinfo.state.gov/regional/af/acri/

 


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