Defense

June 26, 2012

Africom commander details current, emerging threats

by SFC Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

U.S. Africa Command’s top military officer today detailed existing and emerging threats from extremist organizations on the continent in a speech at the African Center for Strategic Studies in Arlington, Va.

Army Gen. Carter F. Ham also explained the U.S. presence in Africa and Africom initiatives based on the new U.S. defense strategic guidance.

“When you read the [guidance], you will find that the word ‘Africa’ appears precisely once,” he said. “So some question that and say, ‘So does that mean that the United States military does not really think very seriously, or is not very committed, to African security matters?’ My response to that is, ‘No, our view is actually quite different.’”

Ham said while it is true the U.S. military now is focused on the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East, the strategic guidance refers to “some very consistent and very relevant priorities for those of us who operate with our African partners.”

These include combatting extremist organizations, transnational threats and illicit trafficking; countering piracy, building partner capacity; developing nations’ capabilities to deal with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions; and contributing to regional security, Ham said.

“All of those tasks are outlined in this document, and all of those tasks are the tasks that United States Africom focuses on with you,” he added.

The general told the audience that U.S. efforts in Africa entail an “absolute imperative … to protect America, Americans and American interests,” just as in other parts of the world.

Specifically, Ham said, his command’s seeks to protect the United States and its interests from threats that may emerge from the continent.

“I’ll start in East Africa, where we see very clearly the threat of al Qaeda in East Africa, and its affiliated organization, al-Shabaab, which operates principally, but not exclusively, in Somalia,” he said. “We also know that because – in Somalia especially – al-Shabaab’s presence has denied the delivery of … humanitarian assistance to a population that has been under some significant duress for a long period of time,” Ham said.

U.S. military involvement principally is in training, equipping and funding the African Union Mission and Somalian forces from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenya.

“Ethiopia … has been quite effective in its role, as well,” he noted. “And we think that’s an ideal role for the United States – not a large, U.S. military presence. We think that would be counterproductive in Somalia, actually.”

Rather, he said, the United States wants to apply its resources in Africa to help countries willing to contribute to the effort with training, equipping and with some funding so that they can continue their operations.

Other extremist organizations in Africa, such as al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram, also pose a concern, Ham said, noting that officials are increasingly concerned with the former, which now has a safe haven in a large portion of Mali after a military coup there.

The group is operating “essentially unconstrained,” Ham said, and is implementing a harsh religious law system throughout much of northern Mali. It also has “very clearly” shown a desire and intent to attack Americans, he added.

“Just to the south of that, we see the increasingly violent organization, Boko Haram, operating in Nigeria,” he said. Boko Haram is not a new organization, he told the audience, and it’s not monolithic. “Everybody in Boko Haram doesn’t feel the same way,” Ham said. “It has many different factions.”

Each of the extremist organizations is “worrisome” in its own right, the general said, and there are indications they are seeking to coordinate and synchronize their efforts.

“In other words, [they seek] to establish a cooperative effort amongst the three most violent organizations, and I think that’s a real problem for us, and for Africa’s security, in general,” he said. Al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram may be sharing funds, training and explosive materials, he added.

Libya also is a concern as it comes out of its revolution and forms its new government, Ham said.

“There very truly are those who wish to undermine the formation of that government,” he said. “And again, we see some worrying indicators that al Qaeda and others are seeking to establish a presence in Libya.”

Part of Libya’s challenge, he said, is for the new government to now bring together the many militias which fought “very bravely and effectively” to overthrow Gadhafi.

Ham said the United States seeks to help by establishing a “normalized” military-to-military relationship with Libya.

“I’ve been to Tripoli a number of times,” he added. “We’ve had Libyan officials visit us in our headquarters in Germany, and we have started to map out what the U.S. assistance might be for Libya well into the future.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Army photograph by David Vergun

Senior leaders explain Army’s drawdown plan

Army photograph by David Vergun No commander is happy when notified that a soldier from his or her command has been identified for early separation. But commanders personally notify those Soldiers and ensure participation in th...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom

F-35 Rollout Marks U.S.-Australia Partnership Milestone

Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown delivers his remarks at the roll out ceremony for Australia’s first F-35. The official rollout of the first two F-35 Lightning II...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Erin OĆ­Shea

U.S. Forces display military might at Farnborough

Air Force photograph by A1C Erin O’Shea Capt. Tom Meyers discusses the F-15E Strike Eagle’s capabilities with spectators July 17, 2014, at the Farnborough International Airshow in England. Public access was granted ...
 

 
raptors4

Raptors, Falcons fuel up in desert skies

Three U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash., during Red Flag 14-3, Ju...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler

Sun sets on Red Flag 14-3

Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler The sun sets behind a row of F-16 Fighting Falcons during Red Flag 14-3, July 16, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Red Flag provides a series of intense air-to-air combat scenario...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Siuta B. Ika

AOC integral to Red Flag 14-3 operations

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Siuta B. Ika Members of the Air and Space Operations Center work during Red Flag 14-3 operations July 22, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Armed with personnel from intelligence and communicati...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>