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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/6/10

New Colonialism: Pentagon Carves Africa Into Military Zones

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New Colonialism: Pentagon Carves Africa Into Military Zones
Rick Rozoff

Last year the commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), General William Ward, said the Pentagon had military partnerships with 35 of the continent's 53 nations, "representing U.S. relationships that span the continent." [1]

That number has increased in the interim.

As the first overseas regional military command set up by Washington in this century, the first since the end of the Cold War, and the first in 25 years, the activation of AFRICOM, initially under the wing of U.S. European Command on October 1, 2007, then as an independent entity a year later, emphasizes the geostrategic importance of Africa in U.S. international military, political and economic planning.

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Africa Command's area of responsibility includes more nations - 53, all African states except Egypt, which remains in U.S. Central Command, and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara), which is a member of the African Union but which the U.S. and its NATO allies recognize as part of Morocco, which conquered it in 1975 - than any of the Pentagon's other Unified Combatant Commands: European Command, Central Command, Pacific Command, Southern Command and Northern Command (founded in 2002).

The U.S. is alone in maintaining regional multi-service military commands in all parts of the world, a process initiated after World War Two as America arrogated to itself a 20th century manifest destiny as history's first worldwide military superpower..

Until October 1, 2008 Africa was overwhelmingly in the European Command's area of responsibility, with all African nations assigned to it except for Egypt, Seychelles and the Horn of Africa states (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan) overseen by Central Command, and three island nations and a French possession off the continent's eastern coast (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion) placed under Pacific Command.

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The month before AFRICOM began its one-year incubation under U.S. European Command in 2007, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Ryan Henry said, "Rather than three different commanders who have Africa as a third or fourth priority, there will be one commander that has it as a top priority." [2]

The Pentagon official also revealed 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 member of both, which was "interested in developing the Africa standby force". [3]

The Defense Department official identified all the key components of Africa Command's role and adumbrated what has transpired in the almost three-year interim: By subsuming nations formerly in the areas of responsibility of three Pentagon commands under a unified one, the U.S. will divide the world's second most populous continent into five military districts, each with a multinational African Standby Force trained by military forces from the United States, NATO and the European Union.

Later the same month, the Pentagon confirmed its earlier disclosure that AFRICOM would deploy regional integration teams "to the northern, eastern, southern, central and western portions of the continent, mirroring the African Union's five regional economic communities...."

The Defense News website detailed the geographic division described in Defense Department briefing documents issued in that month:

"One team will have responsibility for a northern strip from Mauritania to Libya; another will operate in a block of east African nations - Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania; and a third will carry out activities in a large southern block that includes South Africa, Zimbabwe and Angola....

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"A fourth team would concentrate on a group of central African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Congo [Brazzaville]; the fifth regional team would focus on a western block that would cover Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger and Western Sahara, according to the briefing documents." [4]

The five areas correspond to Africa's main Regional Economic Communities, starting in the north of the continent:

Arab Maghreb Union: Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.

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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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