The US Army Expands Its Role in Africa
2014-02-07 The training US Army Africa (USARAF) is providing to different African nations is helping them secure their own borders as well as own regions, in line with the US policy of helping Africans solve their own problems.
This is according to Major Albert Conley III, USARAF’s Counter Terrorism Desk Officer for International Military Engagements. He said that this means the US doesn’t need to get involved and whatever American interests are in that region or country will, as a secondary effect, be secure because USARAF is helping them with internal and external security.
“If Africans are solving African problems the US government won’t need to use the United States Army to solve African problems. For example, by having a conglomerate of nations in the African Union going into Somalia to help fix that nation’s problems means American servicemen don’t have to go into Somalia to help fix that problem,” he said.
USARAF is currently partnering with the French government to train and equip in Guinea and will be in Chad and Malawi this month to train more than 4 000 African troops for peace enforcement missions in Mali and the DRC.
“We are ready to begin training in Chad for about 1 300 soldiers – an 850 man battalion plus another 450 man battalion. While we are not partnering with the government of France, we are partnering with a private French security firm the government of Chad has contracted. They are providing some training and we are also providing some,” said Colonel John Ruffing, USARAF Security Co-operation Director.
USARAF only started training and equipping African nations about 18 months ago.
“A lot of this is coming on-line now with the Regionally Aligned Forces. An example would be how the US Army Africa worked during Shared Accord 13 (SA13).
“It was a sophisticated exercise where we did air field seizure, forcible entry operations, an amphibious assault and the environment was difficult with high sea states, low visibility, high winds and we were able to conduct this operation through mission command in a C-130 where you had a South African general officer and a US colonel sitting side-by-side with the South African general making decisions to conduct this operation. There were two forces –the US and South Africa, conducting this event. Not only conventional forces were involved, but there were Special Forces from both countries involved in this exercise,” he said.
Because of lessons learned from that Shared Accord 13 the impact was seen almost immediately.
“I believe the training received during SA 13 helped 1/18th Infantry when they were sent to South Sudan to reinforce the US Embassy there as part of the East Africa Response Force operations. Had that force just been sitting at a location doing training and not understanding the environment or working with a foreign military, it might have been a little more difficult. But because they were able to work in the environment with South Africa during Shared Accord, I think that helped them and prepared them for that operation in South Sudan.”
Conley offered additional examples.
“We trained in Niger and then Niger went into Mali. We are now working with the French to actually get the assessment of that since we’re not working with them in Mali. So, now the French get to see this unit we trained and equipped to go in and fight in Mali and secure the area. The French are actually giving us the assessment and evaluation of that unit and then whatever lessons are learned, we will implement them in the next training mission,” he said.
Another and perhaps better example, Conley said, is from training in East Africa.
“The US government has been training in Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti and Burundi to conduct peacekeeping missions in Somalia. For the longest time they were restricted to the city of Mogadishu. Because of all the training we’ve been doing with them, building up different units with reconnaissance capabilities so they can push out of Mogadishu and into the countryside while pushing the terrorist group El Shabaab out speaks of success. I don’t need to be on the ground to see the success of that – it’s evident.”