Two of only five African nations that have not entered into individual and regional partnerships with the Pentagon through AFRICOM are the targets of violent uprisings aimed at toppling their governments and installing client regimes subservient to the U.S. and its NATO allies. Eritrea, Zimbabwe and a truncated Sudan will be left. And will be next.
As Alassane Ouattara, former unelected prime minister under the late president for life Fe'lix Houphouët-Boigny and Washington, D.C.-based Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, is poised to take control of Ivory Coast with the assistance of the French military, his country is being prepared to join its Gulf of Guinea neighbors in the U.S.- and NATO-supported West African Standby Force and be incorporated into AFRICOM operations in one of the world's most oil-rich and thus strategic regions.
The USS Robert G. Bradley guided missile frigate began a nine-nation Africa Partnership Station West mission on February 1 with a port visit to the capital of Togo, two countries removed from Ivory Coast's eastern border on the Gulf of Guinea. The Africa Partnership Station is an initiative of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and works in conjunction with AFRICOM.
After Togo, the U.S. warship's itinerary has included and will include visits to Cape Verde, Senegal, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Angola and Nigeria. Angola and Nigeria are Africa's largest oil exporters. Gabon's sizeable oil exports are divided between Russia, the U.S., China and former colonial master France. In 2005 American oil giants ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil entered into an exploration and production agreement with Sao Tome and Principe.
The U.S. frigate is part of Africa Partnership Station 2011, operating off the coasts of West, Southern and East Africa with five U.S. ships and three from European NATO nations.
While visiting Cameroon late last month, USS Robert G. Bradley led the Obangame Express exercise with vessels from France, Spain, Belgium, Cameroon, Gabon and Nigeria.
From March 3-19 the U.S. Marine Corps conducted a joint Africa Partnership Station exercise with the Ghana Armed Forces at the Jungle Warfare School in the Gulf of Guinea nation.
In February USS Stephen W. Groves, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile warship like USS Robert G. Bradley, participated in a joint exercise off South Africa with that country's submarine SAS Charlotte Maxeke in training that U.S. Africa Command described as "part of the U.S. Navy's initiative to strengthen military partnership nations throughout the continent of Africa."
The ship next visited Tanzania, where it trained military personnel from Djibouti, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique and the host country in the first of several phases of the Africa Partnership Station East mission that has now taken it to Mauritius and will later bring it to Kenya and Seychelles and after that to Cape Verde and Senegal in West Africa.
Since the Africa Partnership Station initiative was launched in 2007, U.S. warships assigned to it have visited almost every African coastal and island nation except for those bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The exceptions have been Ivory Coast, Sudan and Eritrea as well as Libya in the north.
In February AFRICOM conducted the 19-day Operation Flintlock 2011 special forces exercise in Senegal with the participation of NATO allies France, Germany, Spain, Canada and the Netherlands and Sahel nations Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal. (Last year's Flintlock included the above African states and Algeria and Tunisia.) Burkina Faso borders northeastern Ivory Coast.
The AFRICOM website wrote this of the exercise:
"Conducted by Special Operations Command Africa, Flintlock is a joint multinational exercise to improve information sharing at the operational and tactical levels across the Saharan region while fostering increased collaboration and coordination. It's focused on military interoperability and capacity-building for U.S., North American and European Partner Nations, and select units in Northern and Western Africa."
Note how African participants are listed after those of the U.S. and its European and Canadian NATO allies.
Late this January the main planning conference for Africa Endeavor 2011 was held in Mali. Modeled after U.S. European Command's Combined Endeavor, the largest military communications and information systems exercise in the world, this year's annual Africa Endeavor multinational exercise will be held in June in the same country.
According to AFRICOM, January's planning conference "brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations and observers from [the] Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan interoperability testing of communications and information systems of participating nations," with the "largest number of participating countries to date in the Africa Endeavor series" in the words of Brigadier General Roberts Ferrell, head of AFRICOM's Command, Control, Communications and Computers Systems Directorate.