In yet another sign of the Pentagon’s increasing presence in Africa, Defence Web reported this week that the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) recently announced it seeks contractors to provide “transportation services of intra-theatre cargo within the Africom Area of Responsibility (AOR) and Egypt.” Showing a certain sense of urgency, AFRICOM gave a deadline of just two weeks for contractors to submit project proposals.
This comes after just recently U.S. Army Transportation Command (US-TRANSCOM) awarded Berry Aviation with a $49 million contract to support and transport commandos from the Joint Special Taskforce Trans-Sahara in 31 African countries. That contract specified that the winning bidder would “transport personnel and, likewise, must be willing to carry ‘hazardous’ cargo, including small arms ammunition, signal flares, smoke grenades, blasting caps, rockets, mines and explosive charges.”
USA Today reported not so long ago that the Pentagon’s “futurist, secretive” Office of Net Assessment employed contractor Booz Allen Hamilton to study future challenges Africa may pose in the future.
This flurry of Africa-focused activity has ignited little media attention to the growing AFRICOM presence on the continent. Attentive observers will find notable coverage, however.
Reuters noted, “the United States now has more troops in Africa than at any point since its Somalia intervention two decades ago.” Foreign Policy reported on growing drone bases on the continent, and the Washington Post pointed out an increase in U.S. secret operations on the continent. Tom Dispatch documented U.S. military involvement in no fewer than 49 African countries, concluding, “a pivot to Africa is quietly and unmistakably underway.”
Mother Jones juxtaposed 10 years of U.S. military involvement in Africa with little to no corresponding gain in stability. Pointing to “post-revolutionary Libya, the collapse of Mali, the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria, the coup in the Central African Republic, and violence in Africa’s Great Lakes region,” Mother Jones quotes University of Birmingham’s Berny Sèbe as saying, “The continent is certainly more unstable today than it was in the early 2000s, when the US started to intervene more directly.”