AFRICOM plans for extremists and drugs trade

by Scott A Morgan

Recently General William (Kip) Ward, the Commanding Officer of the highly controversial US African Command (AFRICOM) gave an interview to NPR (National Public Radio). Some of the statements made by General Ward indicate that there is some major concern in Washington over events currently unfolding in Africa.

General William Ward, AFRICOM Commander

General William Ward, AFRICOM Commander

The first major area of concern is Somalia. We have heard of the tragic history of that country in the Horn of Africa. The collapse of a functioning government, hunger, Islamist militias trying to install their belief system and piracy are just some of the ills that plague Somalia. The situation is so dire that the Pentagon sent $10 Million (Kshs759,000,000) in arms to prop up the current government. The group, Al-Shabaab, currently has power over the southern part of the country.

The US fears situations like Somalia developing throughout Africa.  Clearly there are several locales where such concerns have actually occurred. Most notorious is the Kivu Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Ugandan, Congolese and Rwandan militias have set up their own fiefdoms free from the rule of law. Another case is the Niger Delta where there is an abundant supply of oil but no investments in infrastructure. These are two highlights of limited government influence or none what so ever.

US policy is to support governments in various areas of the continent that seek to establish control over areas that they govern. If the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act is passed, then the US will assist in developing a long term strategy to achieve the goals mentioned in the title of the legislation. This could mean an additional role for AFRICOM in Central Africa. US efforts to rebuild the armed forces in Liberia with the assistance of the State Department have been successful to this point.

The other area of concern for AFRICOM is the narcotics trade. This primarily is an issue that affects West Africa. It can be argued that the drug trade has had a role in the collapse of two governments in recent years (Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.) The rugged West African coastline has been used by South American cartels as a transit point to ship narcotics to Europe.

Previous testimony on Capitol Hill in June indicated that AFRICOM is working with the Southern Command Joint Interagency Task Force South, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other bodies to monitor the flow of narcotics and support projects with the goal of interdicting the flow. It is felt that this is the best time to curtail the drugs trade before it undermines US strategic interests in Africa.

These are two laudable goals that AFRICOM has. And they should succeed at them.

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The author publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet. It can be found at morganrights.tripod.com
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