Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) recently introduced legislation that would ban President Donald Trump from removing troops from Africa, in a move that would keep a U.S. presence in the largely destitute and underdeveloped continent.
Defense One obtained a copy of the legislation, which would prevent the President from using any money allocated in 2020 to “reduce the total number of United States Armed Forces” on the continent of Africa until certain bureaucratic reports are produced.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper told lawmakers last week that the Administration is considering deep cuts to the approximately 5,200 military personnel stationed in Africa, as President Trump works to fulfill his “America First” foreign policy mandate.
As expected, the bipartisan War Party has kicked into high gear in order to prevent President Trump from bringing troops home. They are fomenting push back to keep the American soldiers occupying the globe, even when most Americans are probably unaware that there are any troops stationed in Africa.
“We write to express our serious concern regarding reports of a possible decision to significantly reduce or completely withdraw U.S. Armed Forces within the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) area of responsibility, specifically the Sahel of West Africa,” wrote Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) in a letter issued to Esper in January when the rumors of the cuts began.
“While we support the intent of the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) and the desire to do more to focus on our near-peer competitors, we must not forget the continued threat from violent extremist to our interests and our homeland. Furthermore, the retention of forces within the AFRICOM area of responsibility serves as a check against the growing presence of near-peer competitors like China and Russia who continue to expand their influence across the continent,” they added.
“The execution of stability operations in Africa and meeting China and Russia in great power competition are not mutually exclusive,” a bipartisan letter led by Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) argued to Esper in January.
“Rather than retreat from African affairs, it is in the interest of the United States to continue to share democratic values and military expertise with developing nations across the continent,” they added.
“Any drawdown of our troops would be short-sighted, could cripple AFRICOM’s ability to execute its mission and, as a result, would harm national security,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who leads the Armed Services Committee.
As usual, a bipartisan consensus has emerged in Congress to keep the troops in harm’s way, using any possible excuse to maintain U.S. military hegemony. It will not be easy for Trump to bring the troops out of Africa, or anywhere else, with the swamp so deeply entrenched in both major political parties.