According to Alan Macleod of Mint Press News, U.S. Special Forces are now present in 22 African countries.
Mcleod cited a new report published in The Mail and Guardian that has revealed the extent of American military activity in Africa. In 2019, U.S. Special Operations forces were conducting active operations in 22 African countries. This military footprint in Africa accounts for 14 percent of all American special forces deployed abroad. This is the second largest number for any region other than the Middle East. Furthermore, American troops have experienced combat in 13 African nations.
Such military activity receives very little coverage from the mainstream media. Macleon noted that “when U.S. operatives die in Africa, as happened in Niger, Mali, and Somalia in 2018, the response from the public, and even from the media is often ‘why are American soldiers there in the first place?’”
American military presence is rarely acknowledged by Washington or African governments. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) maintains that the special forces do not operate beyond “’AAA’ (advise, assist and accompany) missions.” However, Macleod observes that “the role between observer and participant can become distinctly blurry.”
Currently, the U.S. has approximately 6,000 military personnel in the African continent, “military attachés outnumbering diplomats in many embassies across Africa.” According to a report from The Intercept earlier in 2020, the military runs 29 bases on the African continent. Of note is the drone hub in Niger, which The Hill described “the largest U.S. Air Force-led construction project of all time.” The construction of this facility costs well over $100 million, and its operating costs are expected to reach $280 billion by 2024.
Washington defends this presence by claiming that the region must be defended from radical Islamist entities. Groups such as Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, and other al-Qaeda connected groups have emerged as key players in the African region. That said, Macleod is correct in noting that “much of the reason for their rise can be traced back to previous American actions, including the destabilization of Yemen, Somalia, and the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya.”
Macleod also added that the U.S. has played a not-so casual role in training many African countries’ forces at the taxpayer’s expense:
“For example, the U.S. pays Bancroft International, a private military contractor, to train elite Somali units who are at the forefront of the fighting in the country’s internal conflicts. According to The Mail and Guardian, these Somali fighters are likely also funded by the U.S. taxpayer.”
In addition, there are legitimate concerns with border security and overall unrest in America that may require some degree of military resources. By bringing troops home, the U.S. could be better positioned to handle those issues.
Liberty conservatives should make the case for bringing back troops home and then making its clear that these troops will be used for maintaining national defense and public security.