May 15, 2014

How 'Benghazi' Birthed the New Normal in Africa

U.S. military now conducting operations alongside almost every African military in almost every African country

by Nick Turse

. . . Since 9/11, the U.S. military has been ramping up missions on the African continent, funneling money into projects to woo allies, supporting and training proxy forces, conducting humanitarian outreach, carrying out air strikes and commando raids, creating a sophisticated logistics network throughout the region, and building a string of camps, "cooperative security locations," and bases-by-other-names.

All the while, AFRICOM downplayed the expansion and much of the media, with a few notable exceptions, played along. With the end of the Iraq War and the drawdown of combat forces in Afghanistan, Washington has, however, visibly "pivoted" to Africa and, in recent weeks, many news organizations, especially those devoted to the military, have begun waking up to the new normal there.

While daily U.S. troop strength continent-wide hovers in the relatively modest range of 5,000 to 8,000 personnel, an under-the-radar expansion has been constant, with the U.S. military now conducting operations alongside almost every African military in almost every African country and averaging more than a mission a day. . . .


Nick Turse is an investigative reporter, a fellow at The Nation Institute, the managing editor of, a contributing writer at The Intercept, and the co-founder of Dispatch Books. He is the author, most recently, of Next Time They'll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan as well as the New York Times bestseller Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, which received a 2014 American Book Award.

Smedley Darlington Butler, "'War Is A Racket'," The Wisdom Fund, September 11, 2001

"The New Scramble For Africa: The Crown Jewels," The Wisdom Fund, October 20, 2011

Jean Herskovits, "In Nigeria, Boko Haram Is Not the Problem," New York Times, January 2, 2012

Rob Prince, "The Dying Sahara: Jeremy Keenan's Latest Book Reviewed,", May 29, 2013

Daniel Wright, "Politifact Blows Call On AFRICOM,", June 17, 2014

"The New Scramble for Africa," Al Jazeera July 27, 2014

Nick Turse, "Hushed Pentagon Investigation Slaps U.S. Africa Command's Humanitarian Activities,", September 7, 2014

J P Sottile, "School of the Americas Morphs Into US Training Industrial Complex,", November 21, 2014

[While SEAL Team 6 has received extensive coverage, what could be considered the military story of the twenty-first century, the massive, ongoing expansion of a secret force (functionally the president's private army) cocooned inside the U.S. military - now at almost 70,000 personnel and growing - has gotten next to none.--Nick Turse, "A Secret War in 135 Countries,", September 24, 2015]

[With military presence in 53 of 54 of Africa's nations, the American empire has emerged to pick up where the former European colonial powers have left off.--Justin Yun, "U.S. expands secret wars in Africa,", May 10, 2016]

[Somehow, between 2015 and 2016, more than 200 missions from 2014 had simply vanished--Nick Turse, "The Numbers Racket: U.S. Africa Command Clams Up After Contradictory Statements to Congress,", June 23, 2016]

[U.S. Africa Command boasts that it"neutralizes transnational threats" and"prevents and mitigates conflict," while training local allies and proxies"in order to promote regional security, stability, and prosperity." Rodriguez's tenure was, however, marked by the very opposite: increasing numbers of lethal terror attacks across the continent including those in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Tunisia. . . . In 2007, just before it became an independent command, there were fewer than 400 such incidents annually in sub-Saharan Africa. Last year, the number reached nearly 2,000.--Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt, "The U.S. Military Pivots to Africa and That Continent Goes Down the Drain,", August 3, 2016]

Paul Atwood, "War And Empire: The American Way Of Life,", May 7, 2017

[They had literally created a protection racket for Africa.--Dan Glazebrook, "West eyes recolonization of Africa by endless war; removing Gaddafi was just first step,", October 20, 2017]

Nick Turse, "The U.S. Will Invade West Africa in 2023 After An Attack in New York -- According to Pentagon War Game,", October 22, 2017

Aidan O'Brien, "The cover story is the 'War on Terror'. But don't be fooled: 'white guy rule' has returned to the Sahara,", November 10, 2017

Wesley Morgan, "Behind the secret U.S. war in Africa: Despite Pentagon assertions, secret programs allow American troops to direct combat raids in Somalia, Kenya, Niger,", July 2, 2018

[Hawk Hillary has brought slavery back to Libya, . . .Then there was that 100 million dollar donation to the Clinton Foundation, by Lundin for Africa. Um, is this charity? Lundin is an oil and mining company based in Canada. There was also a 20 million donation to the Foundation from Ethiopia's repressive leader Meles Zenawi. And ties to businessman Gilbert Chagoury brought along shady land deals in Nigeria. Also of note is her State Department arming of child soldiers in southern Sudan.--Nick Pemberton, "The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn't Want to Know About Africa,", October 12, 2018]

[AFRICOM is an occupying force that in no way functions to guarantee the security of African people (see Libya, among others), but rather to guarantee the free flow of resources out of Africa and into the Global North, particularly former colonial powers like France and Britain, and of course the US.--Nick Pemberton, "AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?,", December 11, 2018]

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