Pentagon's Last Frontier: Battle-Hardened Troops Headed To Africa
After the U.S. begins to wind down more than ten consecutive years of combat, mainly counterinsurgency, operations in what has variously been labeled the Broader, Greater and New Middle East, war-tested troops are being prepared for redeployment to Africa and Latin (largely South) America.*
Last September President Barack Obama hailed the five million U.S. soldiers that have served in the so-called global war on terror, what he called the 9/11 generation, in the preceding decade.
American commanders issue regular statements that war-time experience in Afghanistan and Iraq has trained the armed forces for new operations in other parts of the world: Africa, Latin America, those parts of the Middle East so far not undermined and attacked, the Balkans-Black Sea-Caucasus arc and the Asia-Pacific region.
On June 8 the Gannett newspaper chain's Army Times cited the commander of U.S. Army Africa, Major General David Hogg, disclosing that a brigade-size force of U.S. troops - 3,000 "and likely more" - will begin regular deployments to the African continent beginning next year.
As a component of U.S. Army Africa's "regionally aligned force concept," the American military personnel will concentrate on training the armed forces of U.S. Africa Command's new military allies - which have grown to include all 54 African nations except for Eritrea, Sudan and Zimbabwe after the overthrow of the governments of Ivory Coast and Libya last year - and, in Pentagonese, to advise, assist, partner, enable and mentor in counterinsurgency campaigns like those currently underway in Mali, Somalia and Central Africa.
As Africa is (along with South America) alone in not yet being the site of extensive and sustained U.S. military deployments, according to Hogg "As far as our mission goes, it's uncharted territory"; in the words of Army Times, Africa is "the Army's last frontier."
The latter source stated the initial 3,000-troop-plus initiative is "a pilot program that assigns brigades on a rotational basis to regions around the globe."
U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is a unified combatant command whose respective components are U.S. Army Africa (based in Vicenza, Italy), U.S. Naval Forces Africa (Naples, Italy), U.S. Air Forces Africa (Ramstein Air Base, Germany), U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa and U.S. Special Operations Command Africa (the last two at the Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany where AFRICOM headquarters is located).