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Pentagon And NATO Apply Afghanistan-Pakistan War Model To Africa

By       Message Rick Rozoff       (Page 2 of 4 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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The New Year in Somalia started with a fierce battle between foreign troops backing the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and al-Shabaab rebels, resulting in at 15 dead and 25 wounded. Inhabitants of the Somali capital reported that "the Mogadishu sky turned red [and] kids were crying and had been unable to sleep as the crackling of machine guns and barrages rocked throughout the city." [3]

There are approximately 6,000 troops from U.S. military client states Uganda and Burundi fighting on behalf of the formal government of the country under the banner of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Although approved by the African Union, AMISOM and its predecessor, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Peace Support Mission in Somalia (IGASOM),  primarily have been initiatives by Washington and its allies in NATO and the EU.

European warships are deployed for NATO's Operation Ocean Shield and the EU's Operation Atalanta off Somalia's coast in the Gulf of Aden. (In military matters the distinction between NATO and the EU is becoming an increasingly formal one.)

At least fifteen EU member states, most of them also NATO members - Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Belgium, Portugal, Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus - have sent no fewer than 150 military personnel to Uganda to train 2,000 Somali troops for war in their homeland in a program financed by the U.S.

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In the middle of last month the local press reported that the first 1,000 Somali soldiers "trained by officers from the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) and senior military officers from 27 European Union countries" graduated from the Bihanga military training school in Western Uganda, a "facility...set up early this year to train TFG Officers and foot soldiers in a bid to boost the military capability of war-torn Somalia...."

"The soldiers are expected to provide the core of officers and men of a new Somali army...to provide a much-needed boost to the fragile Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu." [4]
Since June of 2007 NATO has provided airlift and sealift for AMISOM (Ugandan and Burundian) troops deployed to Somalia. The next year NATO flew a Burundian battalion into Somalia and in March of last year the Western military bloc transported 1,700 Ugandan troops into and 850 out of the Somali capital.

The month before the initial inauguration of AFRICOM in 2007, when it was still under U.S. European Command (whose top commander is simultaneously NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe), a Pentagon official announced that Africa Command "would involve one small headquarters plus five 'regional integration teams' scattered around the continent" and that "AFRICOM would work closely with the European Union and NATO," particularly France, a leading member of both organizations, which was "interested in developing the Africa standby force". [5]

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In the same year the U.S. Defense Department acknowledged it had already "agreed on access to air bases and ports in Africa and 'bare-bones' facilities maintained by local security forces in Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia." [6]

The five regions of Africa identified by the U.S. military - north, south, east, west and central - are all represented by the locations named above and are each home to a branch of the African Standby Force (Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western and Central), like AMISOM nominally under the control of the African Union but in fact overseen by the U.S. and NATO.

The North Atlantic Alliance inaugurated the NATO Response Force, in NATO's own words "a highly ready and technologically advanced multinational force made up of land, air, maritime and special forces components that the Alliance can deploy quickly to wherever it is needed," in and off the coast of the African island of Cape Verde in 2006 in a two-week, 7,000-troop exercise codenamed Steadfast Jaguar. [7]

The African Standby Force is modeled after the NATO Response Force. "NATO...supports staff capacity building through the provision of places on NATO training courses to AU [African Union] staff supporting AMISOM, and support to the operationalisation of the African Standby Force - the African Union's vision for a continental, on-call security apparatus similar to the NATO Response Force." [8] It is a joint project of NATO and the Pentagon, formerly U.S. European Command and currently U.S. Africa Command.

To date the only fully successful implementation of the project is the Eastern Africa Standby Force, whose Eastern Africa Standby Brigade (with headquarters in Ethiopia and its Eastern African Standby Brigade Coordination Mechanism in Kenya) consists of Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania (as an observer) and Uganda.

It is largely coterminous with the Pentagon's Combined Joint Task Force -" Horn of Africa without Yemen and with Burundi and Rwanda added. In October of 2009 the Eastern Africa Standby Brigade (EASBRIG) held military exercises in Djibouti, where Combined Joint Task Force -" Horn of Africa is based.

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Last month the defense chiefs of the twelve members of EASBRIG (presumably Eritrea was absent) met in the capital of Burundi to discuss "the Policy Framework for the Establishment of the Eastern Africa Standby Force [EASF] and the Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation between the Eastern Africa Standby Force Coordination Mechanism [EASBRICOM] and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development [IGAD] that aims to harmonise the relations of both institutions...." [9]  

NATO, which has been training African Standby Force staff officers at its training center in Oberammergau, Germany, has designated the NATO Joint Command Lisbon to implement the bloc's military cooperation with Africa. Joint Command Lisbon has what it identifies as a Senior Military Liaison Officer at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (The territory of every nation in Africa except for Liberia, founded by the American Colonization Society in 1821-1822, was formerly ruled by nations that joined NATO: Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.)

On September 5, 2007 "the North Atlantic Council -" NATO's top political decision making body - agreed to provide assistance to the African Union with a study on the assessment of the operational readiness of the African Standby Force brigades," according to the NATO website. 

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/

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