The United States of America lied, and it is not surprising. In 2012, Army General Carter F. Ham told the House Armed Services Committee, "In Africa, I would say a light footprint is consistent with what we need and consistent with the defense guidance." It was an obvious 'alternative truth'. In 2013, President Barack Obama sent troops to Niger to deal with the Boko Haram menace and in 2017, they were ambushed triggering questions as to the presence of American forces in Africa.
For the world, it was a very unfortunate way to learn that American forces were in Niger. However, the story went deeper than that. National Public Radio reported that the Niger mission typified "U.S. military missions underway in roughly 20 African countries, mostly in the northern half of the continent." In 2018, the number of American troops in the continent rose to 7 500, from 6 000.
The Intercept, however, recently acquired evidence proving a "sprawling network of U.S. military outposts in Africa, including previously undisclosed or unconfirmed sites in hotspots like Libya, Niger, and Somalia". America is said to have 34 bases in the continent, but only one is south of the equator and has scaled back engagement in Central Africa.
In West Africa, the U.S. has more sites in Niger than in any other country in the region. In fact, a large drone base is being built in Agadez and reports say its size and infrastructural investment put it in the league of bases created in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are also five outposts in Somalia while Kenya has four outposts. In Somalia, the U.S. has already carried out 36 air strikes in 2018, compared to 34 in 2017. Libya has three contingency sites while Tunisia also hosts one outpost.
America has tried to downplay its presence in Africa but the evidence shows all the assurances are just lip-service. There is no reason to take anything the U.S. says seriously. It is even less believable that America would pull out considering China's growing footprint. It is, however, disrespectful that superpowers use the continent to stamp their military superiority.
John Campbell says, "The focus of the U.S. military operations is basically 'African solutions for African problems." However, it is clear that America is not letting Africa solve anything, as Politico reports that America is running a secret war on the continent. It says, "But for at least five years, Green Berets, Navy SEALs and other commandos operating under a little-understood authority have planned and controlled certain missions, putting them in charge of their African partner forces." The lies know no end.
Header Image Credit: AP