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AFRICOM's First War: U.S. Directs Large-Scale Offensive In Somalia

March 12, 2010

AFRICOM's First War: U.S. Directs Large-Scale Offensive In Somalia
Rick Rozoff

Over 43 people have been killed in the Somali capital of Mogadishu in the past two days in fighting between Shabab (al-Shabaab) insurgent forces, who on March 10 advanced to within one mile of the nation's presidential palace, and troops of the U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government. The fighting has just begun.

The last ambassador of the United States to Somalia (1994-1995), Daniel H. Simpson, penned a column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on March 10 in which which he posed the question "why, apart from the only lightly documented charge of Islamic extremism among the Shabab, is the United States reengaging in Somalia at this time?"

He answered it in stating "Part of the reason is because the United States has its only base in Africa up the coast from Mogadishu, in Djibouti, the former French Somaliland. The U.S. Africa Command was established there in 2008, and, absent the willingness of other African countries to host it, the base in Djibouti became the headquarters for U.S. troops and fighter bombers in Africa.

"Flush with money, in spite of the expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense obviously feels itself in a position to undertake military action in Africa, in Somalia." [1]

Fulfilling its appointed role, the New York Times leaked U.S. military plans for the current offensive in Somalia on March 5 in a report titled "U.S. Aiding Somalia in Its Plan to Retake Its Capital." (Note that the Transitional Federal Government is presented as Somalia itself and Mogadishu as its capital.)

The tone of the feature was of course one of approval and endorsement of the Pentagon's rationale for directly intervening in Somalia at a level not seen since 1993 and support for proxy actions last witnessed with the invasion by Ethiopia in 2006. The report began with a description of a military surveillance plane circling over the Somali capital and a quote from the new chief of staff of the nation's armed forces, General Mohamed Gelle Kahiye: “It’s the Americans. They’re helping us.”

Afterward "An American official in Washington, who said he was not authorized to speak publicly" - a hallmark of the American free press - was, if not identified, quoted as maintaining that U.S. covert operations were planned if not already underway and “What you’re likely to see is airstrikes and Special Ops moving in, hitting and getting out.” [2]

The New York Times also provided background information regarding the current offensive:

"Over the past several months, American advisers have helped supervise the training of the Somali forces to be deployed in the offensive....The Americans have provided covert training to Somali intelligence officers, logistical support to the peacekeepers, fuel for the maneuvers, surveillance information about insurgent positions and money for bullets and guns." [3]

Four days later General William ("Kip") Ward, commander of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In his introductory remarks the chairman of the committee, Senator Carl Levin, reinforced recent American attempts to expand the scope of the deepening Afghanistan-Pakistan war, the deadliest and lengthiest in the world, to the west and south in stating that "al Qaeda and violent extremists who share their ideology are not just located in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region but in places like Somalia, Mali, Nigeria and Niger." [4]

In his formal report Ward pursued a similar tact and expanded the Pentagon's "counter-terrorism" (CT) area of responsibility yet further from South Asia: "U.S. Africa Command has focused the majority of its CT capacity building activities in East Africa on Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Uganda, which - aside from Somalia - are the countries directly threatened by terrorists." [5]

He also spoke of the current offensive by "the transition government to reclaim parts of Mogadishu," stating "I think it's something that we would look to do and support." [6]

Senator Levin and General Ward included eight African nations in the broader Afghan war category of Operation Enduring Freedom, countries from the far northeast of the continent (the Horn of Africa) to the far west (the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea). The U.S. military has already been involved in counterinsurgency operations in Mali and Niger against ethnic Tuareg rebels, who have no conceivable ties to al-Qaeda, not that one would know that from Levin's comments.

In between South Asia and Africa lies Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula. The New York Times report cited earlier reminded readers that "The United States is increasingly concerned about the link between Somalia and Yemen." Indeed as Levin's comments quoted above establish, Washington (along with its NATO allies) is forging an expanded war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and into Africa. [7]

That extension of the South Asia war has not gone unobserved in world capitals, and earlier this year Russian political analyst Andrei Fedyashin commented: "Adding up all four fronts - if the United States ventured an attack on Yemen and Somalia - America would have to invade a territory equal to three-fourths of Western Europe; and it is hardly strong enough for that." [8]

Strong enough or not, that is just what the White House and the Pentagon are doing. The only other objection that can be raised to the above author's description is that it too severely narrows the intended battlefront.

In the past six months Somali troops have been sent to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda for combat training and "most are now back in the capital, waiting to fight."

In addition, "There are also about 5,000 Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers, with 1,700 more on their way, and they are expected to play a vital role in backing up advancing Somali forces." [9]

Last October the U.S. led ten days of military exercises in Uganda - Natural Fire 10 - with 450 American troops and over 550 from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The U.S. soldiers were deployed from Camp Lemonier (Lemonnier) in Djibouti, home to the Pentagon's Joint Task Force/Horn of Africa and over 2,000 U.S. forces. The de facto headquarters of AFRICOM.

At the time of the maneuvers a major Ugandan newspaper wrote that they were "geared towards the formation of the first Joint East African Military Force." [10]

In addition to using such a multinational regional force in Somalia, the U.S. can also deploy it against Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in Uganda, Congo and Sudan, and could even employ it against Eritrea, Zimbabwe and Sudan, along with Somalia the only nations on the African continent not to some degree enmeshed in military partnerships with Washington and NATO. (Libya has participated in NATO naval exercises and South Africa has hosted the bloc's warships.) [11]

Earlier this month the Kenyan newspaper The East African divulged that "American legislators are pushing for a law that will see another phase of military action to apprehend Lord’s Resistance Army rebels."

The news source added that the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Bill adopted by the U.S. Congress last year "requires the US government to develop a new multifaceted strategy" and as such the new bill under consideration "will not be the first time the US government is providing support to the Uganda army in fighting the LRA.

"The US has been backing the UPDF [Uganda People's Defence Force] with logistics and training to fight the rebel group." [12]

Last month it was announced that the U.S. Africa Command has dispatched special forces to train 1,000 Congolese troops in the north and east of their nation, where Congo borders Uganda.

Former U.S. diplomat Daniel Simpson was quoted above as to what in part is Washington's motive in pursuing a new war in and around Somalia: To test out AFRICOM ground and air forces in Djibouti for direct military action on the continent.

A United Press International report of March 10, placed under energy news, offered another explanation. In a feature titled "East Africa is next hot oil zone," the news agency disclosed that "East Africa is emerging as the next oil boom following a big strike in Uganda's Lake Albert Basin. Other oil and natural gas reserves have been found in Tanzania and Mozambique and exploration is under way in Ethiopia and even war-torn Somalia."

The region is, in the words of the Western chief executive officer of an oil prospecting firm, "the last real high-potential area in the world that hasn't been fully explored." [13]

The article added: "The discovery at Lake Albert, in the center of Africa between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is estimated to contain the equivalent of several billion barrels of oil. It is likely to be the biggest onshore field found south of the Sahara Desert in two decades."

It also spoke of "a vast 135,000-square-mile territory in landlocked Ethiopia that is believed to contain sizable reserves of oil. It is estimated to hold 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas as well."

And, more pertinent to the Horn of Africa:

"A 1993 study by Petroconsultants of Geneva concluded that Somalia has two of the most potentially interesting hydrocarbon-yielding basins in the entire region - one in the central Mudugh region, the other in the Gulf of Aden. More recent analyses indicate that Somalia could have reserves of up to 10 billion barrels." [14]

Washington's North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies are also deeply involved in the militarization of East Africa.

On March 10 NATO extended its naval operation in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia, Ocean Shield, to the end of 2012, an unprecedentedly long 33-month extension. On March 12 "Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 will take over missions from Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 for the four-month assignment. The change will increase NATO’s contribution from four ships to five ships...." [15]

At the same hearings of the Senate Armed Services Committee that AFRICOM commander William Ward addressed, NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, America's Admiral James Stavridis, "noted that 100,000 NATO troops are involved in expeditionary operations on three continents, including operations in Afghanistan, off the coast of Africa, and in Bosnia." (Evidently Kosovo was meant for Bosnia.)

Stavridis, who is concurrently top military chief of U.S. European Command, said “The nature of threats in this 21st century [is] going to demand more than just sitting behind our borders.” [16]

He also said he finds "Iran alarming in any number of dimensions,” specifically mentioning alleged "state-sponsored terrorism, nuclear proliferation and political outreach into Latin America." [17]

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recently returned from Jordan and the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain where he pressured both nations to support the war in Afghanistan and Alliance naval operations.

"NATO's top official said [on March 9] that he has asked Jordan and Bahrain to contribute to alliance naval operations fighting terrorism and piracy in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf of Aden, as he ended a visit to the two countries. NATO is keen to improve cooperation with Arab and Muslim states, seeing them as important allies for a number of missions, including the all-important deployment in Afghanistan." [18]

Regarding the Western military bloc's almost nine-year Operation Active Endeavor in the entire Mediterranean Sea and its Operation Ocean Shield in the Gulf of Aden, Rasmussen said, "We would very much like to strengthen cooperation (with Bahrain and Jordan) within these operations." [19]

While in Jordan he was strengthening military ties with NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue partnership - Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia - and in Bahrain firming up the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative aimed at the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have military personnel serving under NATO in Afghanistan.

In late February a delegation of the 53-nation African Union (AU) visited NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium.

"NATO continues to support the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) through the provision of strategic sea- and air-lift for AMISOM Troop Contributing Nations on request. The last airlift support occurred in June 2008 when NATO transported a battalion of Burundian peacekeepers to Mogadishu." [20]

On March 10 AMISON deployed tanks to prevent the capture of the Somali presidential palace by rebels.

The North Atlantic military bloc, which in recent years has conducted large-scale exercises in West Africa and inaugurated its international Response Force in Cape Verde in 2006, also supports "the operationalisation of the African Standby Force – the African Union's vision for a continental, on-call security apparatus similar to the NATO Response Force." [21]

In May the European Union, whose membership largely overlaps with that of NATO and which is engaged in intense integration with the military bloc on a global scale [22], will begin training 2,000 Somali troops in Uganda.

Brigadier General Thierry Caspar-Fille-Lambie, commanding officer of French armed forces in Djibouti, said "the Somali troops will be trained with the necessary military skills to help pacify and stabilize the volatile country."

He issued that statement "at the closing ceremony of four-week French operational training of 1,700 Ugandan troops to be deployed" to Somalia in May. The French ambassador to Uganda said "The EU troops shall work in close collaboration with UPDF to train Somali troops." [23]

The 2,000 soldiers to be trained by the EU will represent a full third of a projected 6,000-troop Somali army.

The U.S.-NATO-EU global triad plans an even larger collective military role in the new scramble for Africa. On March 4 and 5 a delegation from AFRICOM met with European Union officials in Brussels "seeking EU cooperation in Africa," specifically in "areas where cooperation could be possible, notably with the soon-to-be-launched EU mission to train Somali troops." [24]

Tony Holmes, AFRICOM’s deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, said "Somalia, that’s an area where we’re going to be doing a lot more, the European Union is already doing a lot and will be doing more....

“Somalia is very important for us. The European Union is involved in training Somalis in Uganda and that’s something we might be able to work closely with to support.”

The AFRICOM delegation, including Major-General Richard Sherlock, director of strategy, plans and programs, also discussed "counter-terrorism cooperation with the EU in the Sahel region, notably in Mauritania, Mali and Niger...." [25]

In late January the chairman of NATO's Military Committee, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, said "that the Alliance is in discussion with a Gulf state to deploy AWACS planes for a reconnaissance mission over Afghanistan in support of its ISAF mission and also for anti-piracy off Somalia." [24]

To demonstrate that NATO's anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia has other designs than the one acknowledged, early this year a NATO spokesman announced that the bloc's naval contingent in the Gulf of Aden "now has an additional task" to intervene against a fictional deployment of Somali fighters across the Gulf to Yemen.

The spokesman, Jacqui Sheriff, said "NATO warships will be on the lookout for anything suspicious." [25]

As though Somali al-Shabaab fighters have nothing else to do as the U.S. is engineering an all-out assault on them in their homeland.

Five days after the New York Times feature detailed American war plans in Somalia, the Washington Times followed up on and added to that report.

U.S. operations are "likely to be the most overt demonstration of U.S. military backing since the ill-fated Operation Restore Hope of 1992...."

"Unmanned U.S. surveillance aircraft have been seen circling over Mogadishu in recent days, apparently pinpointing insurgent positions as the TFG [Transitional Federal Government] marshals its forces. U.S. Army advisers have been helping train the TFG's forces, which have been largely equipped with millions of dollars' worth of U.S. arms airlifted into Mogadishu over the last few weeks."

The newspaper report further stated: "It's not clear when the offensive will start. The word on the street is sometime in the next few weeks...."

The campaign has already begun.

"After securing Mogadishu, the offensive, supported by militias allied with the government, for now, at least, is likely to continue against al-Shebab in the countryside west and south toward the border with Kenya." [26]

After the capital, the entire country. After Somalia, the region.

The war has just begun.

1) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 10, 2010
2) New York Times, March 5, 2010
3) Ibid
4) Senate Armed Forces Committee, March 9, 2010
5) United States Africa Command, March 9, 2010
6) Senate Armed Forces Committee, March 9, 2010
7) U.S., NATO Expand Afghan War To Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean
Stop NATO, January 8, 2010
Yemen: Pentagon’s War On The Arabian Peninsula
Stop NATO, December 15, 2009
8) Russian Information Agency Novosti, January 11, 2010
9) New York Times, March 5, 2010
10) The Monitor, October 14, 2009
11) AFRICOM Year Two: Seizing The Helm Of The Entire World
Stop NATO, October 22, 2009
12) The East African, March 1, 2010
13) United Press International, March 10, 2010
14) Ibid
15) Stars and Stripes, March 11, 2010
16) United States Department of Defense, March 9, 2010
17) Ibid
18) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 9, 2010
19) Ibid
20) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
February 24, 2010
21) Ibid
22) EU, NATO, US: 21st Century Alliance For Global Domination
Stop NATO, February 19, 2009
23) Xinhua News Agency, February 13, 2010
24) Europolitics, March 5, 2010
25) Ibid
26) Kuwait News Agency, January 28, 2010
27) Canwest News Service, January 1, 2010
28) Washington Times, March 10, 2010
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
AFRICOM's Footsteps: Japan To Open First Foreign Military Base

Posted by: "Rick Rozoff" rwrozoff

Fri Apr 23, 2010 6:32 pm (PDT)

Agence France-Presse
April 23, 2010

Piracy rattles Japan to open first foreign military base
By Emmanuel Goujon

-"A camp will be built to house our personnel and material. Currently we are stationed at the American base....We sent military teams to Yemen, Oman, Kenya and Djibouti. In April 2009, we chose Djibouti."
-The Red Sea state, which is home to the largest overseas French military base and the only US army base in Africa, was picked for its suitable air and sea ports as well as political stability....

DJIBOUTI: Japan is opening its first overseas army base in Djibouti, a small African state strategically located at the southern end of the Red Sea on the Gulf of Aden, to counter rising piracy in the region.

The 40-million-dollar base [is] expected to be completed by early next year....

The Djibouti base breaks new ground for Japan, which has had no standing army since World War II and cannot wage war. It however has armed forces - the Japan Self-Defence Forces - which were formed at the end of US occupation in 1952.

"This will be the only Japanese base outside our country and the first in Africa," Keizo Kitagawa, Japan's navy force captain and coordinator of the deployment, told AFP recently.
"A camp will be built to house our personnel and material. Currently we are stationed at the American base," Kitagawa said.

Since 2008, an international flotilla of warships has been patrolling the Gulf of Aden in a bid to stop the hijackings.

"The safety of the seas is therefore essential for Japan... the stability of this region will benefit Japan," Kitagawa added.

Japan's decision was prompted by pressure from the country's maritime industry.

"We sent military teams to Yemen, Oman, Kenya and Djibouti. In April 2009, we chose Djibouti," Kitagawa said.

The Red Sea state, which is home to the largest overseas French military base and the only US army base in Africa, was picked for its suitable air and sea ports as well as political stability, the official said.

Last April, Japan's defence ministry announced it was sending two destroyers and surveillance planes to boost the anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

April 25, 2010

Japanese Military Joins U.S. And NATO In Horn Of Africa
Rick Rozoff

Japanese navy commander Keizo Kitagawa recently spoke with Agence France-Presse and disclosed that his nation was opening its first overseas military base - at any rate since the Second World War - in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.

Kitagawa is assigned to the Plans and Policy Section of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, as his nation's navy is called, and is in charge of the deployment.

AFP quoted the Japanese officer as stressing the unprecedented nature of the development: "This will be the only Japanese base outside our country and the first in Africa." [1]

The military installation is to cost $40 million and is expected to accommodate Japanese troops early next year.

Djibouti rests at the confluence of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, across from strife-torn Yemen, and borders the northwest corner of equally conflict-ridden Somalia. The narrow span of water separating it from Yemen is the gateway for all maritime traffic passing between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

Naval deployments to the Gulf of Aden by several major nations and alliances - the U.S., NATO, the European Union, China, Russia, India, Iran and others - are designed to insure the free passage of commercial vessels through the above route and to protect United Nations World Food Programme deliveries to Somalia. The second concern in particular led to the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1838 in 2008, which requests that nations with military vessels in the area suppress the capture of ships and their crews for ransom. An anti-piracy mission.

However, the above-mentioned Japanese naval officer was more direct in identifying his nation's interest in establishing a military base in Africa. Kitagawa also told AFP that "We are deploying here to fight piracy and for our self-defence. Japan is a maritime nation and the increase in piracy in the Gulf of Aden through which 20,000 vessels sail every year is worrying."

The term self-defense is not fortuitous. Article 9 of the 1947 Japanese Constitution explicitly affirms that "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

As such, in the post-World War Two period the nation's armed forces have been called the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF).

The Constitution also expressly prohibits the deployment of military forces outside of Japan, stating that it is "not permissible constitutionally to dispatch armed troops to foreign territorial land, sea and airspace for the purpose of using military power, as a so-called overseas deployment of troops, since it generally exceeds the minimum level necessary for self-defense."

That notwithstanding, in the years following the Cold War all post-Second World War proscriptions against the use of military force by the former Axis nations have been disregarded, [2] and in February of 2004 Japan dispatched 600 troops, albeit in a non-combat role, to Iraq shortly after the U.S. and British invasion of the country. The nation's navy, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, supplied fuel and water in support of the U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom campaign in Afghanistan from 2001-2007 and again from January of 2008 to the beginning of this year, thereby violating another basic tenet of its constitution, the ban on engaging in what the document refers to as collective self-defense, the relevant section of which reads:

"Japan has the right of collective self-defense under international law. It is, however, not permissible to use the right, that is, to stop armed attack on another country with armed strength, although Japan is not under direct attack, since it exceeds the limit of use of armed strength as permitted under Article 9 of the Constitution."

However, a 2007 Defense White Paper left the door open to further military deployments with a provision on "international peace cooperation activities."

It is in the spirit of that elastic and evasive phrase that Japan resumed support for the war in Afghanistan in 2008 and has now secured a military base on the African continent.

The Japanese official presiding over the latter project also said that "A camp will be built to house our personnel and material. Currently we are stationed at the American base." Kitagawa added that "We sent military teams to Yemen, Oman, Kenya and Djibouti. In April 2009, we chose Djibouti."

A year earlier, the Kyodo News cited an official of the Foreign Ministry as confirming that "Japan and Djibouti reached a status of forces agreement" on April 3, 2009, "stipulating the terms of operations and legal status for the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and related officials who will be based in the African nation during the current antipiracy mission in waters off Somalia." [3]

The agreement was signed on the same day by Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and the foreign minister of Djibouti, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, in Tokyo. The month before Japan sent two destroyers to the Gulf of Aden.

Two months later Japan deployed two new destroyers, the 4,550-ton Harusame and the 3,500-ton Amagiri, off the Horn of Africa. Also last July the Japanese press disclosed that "The U.S....asked Japan to build its own facilities to carry out full-fledged operations," and that at the time "about 150 members of the Ground Self-Defense Force and MSDF [Maritime Self-Defense Force] stationed in Djibouti live in U.S. military lodgings near an airport." [4] The Japanese military announced plans to construct a runway for Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C surveillance planes and barracks for its troops.

Although Russian, Chinese, Indian and Iranian ships in the Horn of Africa are there to protect their own and other nations' vessels and their missions are understood to be limited to anti-piracy operations and to a prescribed duration, Japan and its American and NATO allies have established permanent land, naval and air bases in the region for use in armed conflicts on the African continent.

In early 2001 the U.S. started negotiations with the government of Djibouti for setting up its first major military base in Africa at the former French Foreign Legion base Camp Lemonnier. (Until recently spelled Lemonier by the Pentagon.)

This was several years before combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden became the rationale for U.S. and NATO deployments in the region.

Djibouti is the last territory on the African continent to achieve independence (excepting Western Sahara, seized by Morocco in 1975 with the connivance of Spain's General Franco), only being granted what independence it has by France in 1977. Its population is less than 900,000.

France still maintains its largest overseas military base in the world in the nation and has approximately 3,000 troops stationed there.

Since the Pentagon moved into and took over Camp Lemonnier in 2003, it established its Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) on the base and has an estimated 2,000 troops from all four branches of the U.S. military - Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps - stationed there.

The Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa's area of operations incorporates Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen and increasingly the Indian Ocean island nations of Comoros, Madagascar and Mauritius.

As the U.S. was transferring the CJTF-HOA command from the Marine Corps to the Navy in 2005 - to free up Marines for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - the then commander, Major Marine General Timothy Ghormley, acknowledged that "U.S. forces have been working with militaries in Yemen, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Comoros" [5] and "operate throughout Kenya, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Yemen and Ethiopia." [6]

France has used its base in Djibouti for deadly military interventions in Cote d'Ivoire and Chad and, because of the nation's topography, Djibouti has also been used for training French troops for the war in Afghanistan, where the nation's contingent is the fourth largest serving under NATO command.

Last December the commander of the French army in the country, Commandant Etienne du Fayet, said that "French officers are going to be training a contingent in Uganda next February and we are also going to Ethiopia." [7] During deadly border clashes between Djibouti and Eritrea in June of 2008 France deployed additional troops, warships and aircraft to the region.

The U.S. base has been used for military operations in Somalia and Uganda. In 2008 the deputy commander of U.S. forces in the country was cited as revealing that "the Djibouti base facilitates some other military activities he won't talk about.

"There have been reports of U.S. special operations forces working from the base on counter-terrorism missions in Somalia and elsewhere....[T]hat approach is the model for the new United States Africa Command...."

At the same time Rear Admiral Philip Greene took over as commander of the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa and, speaking over nine months before the formal activation of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), said "There is, I think, great synergy between what CJTF-Horn of Africa does now and what we're about and what AFRICOM will represent as a combatant command."

To indicate the range of the operations he envisioned, Greene also said he would "be watching some of the region's hot spots for potential seeds of instability," including "the situations in Kenya, Somalia and Sudan's Darfur region, as well as tension on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border and piracy along the Indian Ocean coastline." [8]

In 2006 a Kenyan daily newspaper wrote that (as of four years ago) "direct US arms sales to East Africa and the Horn of Africa countries – Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia – have shot up from under one million dollars in 2003 to over $25 million in 2006. Djibouti leads the list with nearly $20 million in direct arms purchases in 2005 and 2006." [9]

The same feature described broader U.S. plans for the Horn of Africa region and further afield being hatched from Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti:

"Overall, direct US weapons sales [to Africa] increased from $39.2 million in 2005 to nearly $60 million in 2006. In both years, East Africa and the Horn accounted for nearly 40 percent of US weapons sales to Africa, and this demonstrates the US military’s strategic shift to the region.

"Access to strategic airfields and ports has also increased for the US military. Beyond Camp Lemonier in 2003, the US had an agreement with Kenya that allowed it access to the port of Mombasa and airfields at Embakasi and Nanyuki.

"Zambia and Uganda have joined Kenya in this unique arrangement. At Entebbe, the US has constructed two K-Span steel buildings to house troops and equipment. The so called 'Lily Pad' arrangement will allow the US
military to use the base when needed in times of conflict or as a staging area for a conflict within the region."

The article also stated, "Strategically, the US military has developed a
regional operations plan that centres on Djibouti to support the Horn countries. It anchors the southern flank with bases in Kenya, Zambia and Uganda to the west....[L]ike in Nigeria, it can be used to ensure an
uninterrupted flow of oil from the newly discovered fields of Uganda and Kenya, and it opens the door to the construction of a well-protected oil pipeline carrying oil from the interior of Central Africa to the port of Mombasa. It also provides a strategically located airbase to support future military operations to the north in Sudan or to the west." [10]

In 2006 the Pentagon expanded Camp Lemonnier by almost five times its original size, from 88 to 500 acres. Late last year it completed an airfield project in the country to provide parking spaces for C-130 Hercules and CV-22 Osprey aircraft and to support C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy military transport planes.

Four years ago the Reuters news agency reported "the United States is already providing Ethiopia and Kenya with logistical support and U.S. special forces had been observed on the Kenya-Somalia border," [11] and shortly afterward the U.S. Air Force divulged that U.S. airmen were operating out of Contingency Operating Location Bilate (also known as Camp Bilate) in Ethiopia in conjunction with the the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa headquarters at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. [12]

The U.S. military headquarters in Djibouti is in charge of three smaller downrange bases, known as Contingency Operating Locations, at Bilate and Hurso in Ethiopia and Manda Bay in Kenya.

An Ethiopian newspaper revealed at the time that "The United States would continue providing training and other assistance to the Ethiopian Defence Forces as per the Ethio-US bilateral cooperation" [13] during the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006.

Ethiopian troops were being trained in infantry tactics by soldiers with the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment at the Training Academy in Hurso as jets from the country bombed the Somali capital and ground forces invaded their eastern neighbor. The U.S. Army conducted training at the base starting no later than 2003. "U.S. military personnel with the Combined Joint Task Force—Horn of Africa...have spent the last four years training the Ethiopian National Defense Forces in basic military tactics." [14] The effects of that preparation were seen in the 2006 invasion of Somalia.

The Pentagon's role in Somalia was not limited to training and arming Ethiopian invasion forces, as in early 2007 it was reported that "recent military operations in Somalia have been carried out by the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command, which directs the military's most secretive and elite units, like the Army's Delta Force.

"The Pentagon established a desolate outpost in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti in 2002 in part to serve as a hub for special missions...." [15]

As U.S. special forces were operating in Somalia and Washington's military client was launching air and ground attacks there, the U.S. deployed the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier, which "has an air wing of about 75 aircraft, including F/A-18 Hornet and SuperHornet strike fighters, E-2C Hawkeyes, EA-6B Prowlers, and SH-60 Seahawks," [16] to join the the guided-missile cruisers USS Bunker Hill and USS Anzio and the amphibious landing ship USS Ashland off the coast of Somalia.

An "AC-130 gunship, operated by the Special Operations Command, flew from its base in Djibouti to the southern tip of Somalia" [17] where it "rained gunfire on the desolate village of Hayo" on January 8. A local official was quoted as saying "There are so many dead bodies and animals in the village." [18]

"Officials with CJTF-HOA, based in Djibouti, comment on the reported AC-130 attacks; media reports said the plane was based at Camp Lemonier." [19]

Also in early January of 2007 a major Kenyan newspaper reported "The US counter-terrorism task force based in Djibouti acknowledges that American troops are on the ground in northern Kenya and in Lamu," the latter on the Indian Ocean. [20]

In March of the same year two U.S. soldiers were killed in Ethiopia in what was attributed to an accident. They were assigned to a unit that was "part of the U.S.-led Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, headquartered at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti." [21]

Late last year U.S. Africa Command deployed lethal Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), 133 military personnel and three P-3 Orion anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft to Seychelles in the Indian Ocean east of Kenya. The Pentagon now has its second major African military base.

In addition to the 5,000 U.S. and French troops stationed there, Djibouti also has been home to what in 2005 Agence France-Presse disclosed were "several hundred German, Dutch and Spanish soldiers." [22]

That is, the diminutive state is for all practical purposes not only the headquarters for U.S. Africa Command but also for NATO in Africa.

In late 2005 Britain announced that it was also deploying troops to Djibouti.

Starting in March of 2009 NATO started rotating its Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG 1) and Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG 2) warship fleets off the coast of Somalia, first with Operation Allied Provider until August of last year and since with Operation Ocean Shield, which continues to the present day and which in March was extended until the end of 2012. The current fleet consists of warships from the U.S., Britain, Greece, Italy and Turkey. Its area of operations includes one million square kilometers in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin. (The current name of the naval groups are NATO Response Force Maritime Groups 1 and 2.)

NATO does not intend to leave the area soon if at all.

Even before the NATO Allied Provider and Ocean Shield operations began, the Italian destroyer MM Luigi Durand De La Penne, "a 5,000-ton multi-role warship capable of air defence, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare operations," [23] part of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, at the time comprised of warships from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Greece and Turkey, visited the Kenyan port city of Mombasa in October of 2008.

Of the current NATO deployment, last December then German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said that it was "the most robust mandate we have ever had," adding, "There may be combat situations, and in this respect it would of course be a combat deployment." [24]

The NATO flotillas joined warships of the U.S.-led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) with logistics facilities in Djibouti. Formerly the U.S. Navy's Task Force 150, starting in 2001 it became a multinational operation with the inclusion of NATO allies and those from an emerging Asian NATO. Full participating nations are the U.S., Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany and Pakistan, and others who have been involved are Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, Spain and Turkey. CTF-150 has 14-15 warships near Somalia at any given time and is coordinated with the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, under the Combined Forces Maritime Component Commander/Commander US Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain.

In January of 2009 the U.S. Navy inaugurated Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), which will include warships from 20 nations, NATO and Asian NATO states.

European NATO nations are also "double-duty" participants in the European Union Naval Force Somalia – Operation Atalanta, the first naval operation conducted by the EU and run under the auspices of the European Security and Defence Policy. It was launched in December of 2008 and is based at the Northwood Operation Headquarters in Britain, which also houses NATO's Allied Maritime Component Command Northwood. Current participants in Operation Atalanta are Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain, and "a number of Cypriot, Irish, Finnish, Maltese and Sweden military personnel supplement the team at the Northwood Operation Headquarters." [25]

Starting no later than September of 2009 NATO commanders have visited and in essence established a headquarters in Somalia's autonomous Puntland state. Last autumn British Commodore Steve Chick, commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, met with Puntland authorities on board the HMS Cornwall. "The talks ended successfully with NATO and Puntland officials agreeing to cooperate in combating pirates operating along the Somali coast." [26]

This January Admiral Pereira da Cunha, commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, hosted Puntland officials on the Portuguese flagship Alvares Cabral, and the meeting "focused on human intelligence gathering, capacity building and counter piracy cooperation between NATO and Puntland authorities."

"NATO...has established a close working relationship with the Puntland Coastguard....This is just a start. With 60 years of experience and coalition building, NATO is well placed to make things happen." [27]

In March ministers of the Puntland government met with Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 commander Commodore Steve Chick on board the HMS Chatham, current flagship of the NATO naval group in the region. The talks "covered ways in which further cooperation between NATO and the Puntland authorities could be developed in the future." [28]

According to a Puntland news source, NATO's activities aren't limited to operations in the waters off Somalia: "NATO has a working relationship with Puntland authorities in a bid to enhance its fight against the piracy scourge along the lawless waters of the Horn of Africa. Puntland has offered its help in terms of dealing with the gangs in the mainland." [29]

The European Union will soon begin training 2,000 Ugandan troops for deployment to Somalia to aid the Transitional Federal Government, which is fighting for its life even in the nation's capital.

Last October a Kenyan newspaper announced that Kenyan troops sailed to Djibouti to receive military training along with the armed forces of other regional nations. At the same time military officers from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden were in Kenya to "assist the region in the ongoing establishment of a united military force to deal with conflicts on the continent."

"The experts from the European countries, which are part of the Nordic Bloc, are based at the EASBRIG headquarters, at the Defence Staff College in Karen, Nairobi." [30]

EASBRIG, the East African Standby Brigade, "will be deployed to trouble spots within 14 days after chaos erupts, to restore order....The brigade will have troops from 14 countries....The military unit will comprise 35,000 soldiers and 1,000 police officers plus 1,000 civilian staff. Kenya is already training 2,000 soldiers to be seconded to the force once it is in place." [31]
Japan's destroyers off the coast of Somalia and the nation's first foreign military base in the post-World War Two era in Djibouti are in line with the geostrategic plans of Tokyo's allies in North America and Europe.

Plans which are embodied most fully in the creation of the first U.S. regional military command outside North America in a quarter of a century, Africa Command. Long after pirates, al-Qaeda affiliates and other threats have ceased to serve as their justification, the Pentagon, NATO and Japan will retain their military footholds in Africa.

Related articles:

NATO: AFRICOM’s Partner In Military Penetration Of Africa

AFRICOM’s First War: U.S. Directs Large-Scale Offensive In Somalia

U.S., NATO Expand Afghan War To Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean

U.S., NATO Expand Afghan War To Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean

AFRICOM Year Two: Seizing The Helm Of The Entire World

AFRICOM Year Two: Seizing The Helm Of The Entire World

Cold War Origins Of The Somalia Crisis And Control Of The Indian Ocean

Global Energy War: Washington’s New Kissinger’s African Plans

1) Agence France-Presse, April 23, 2010
2) Former Axis Nations Abandon Post-World War II Military Restrictions
Stop NATO, August 12, 2009
3) Kyodo News, April 3, 2009
4) Kyodo News, July 31, 2009
5) Stars And Stripes, September 23, 2005
6) US Department of Defense, September 22, 2005
7) Radio France Internationale, December 11, 2009
8) Voice of America News, January 25, 2008
9) The East African, November 6, 2006
10) Ibid
11) Reuters, November 21, 2006
12) Air Force Link, January 7, 2007
13) Ethiopian Herald, January 5, 2007
14) Stars and Stripes, January 10, 2007
15) Xinhua News Agency, January 13, 2007
16) Stars and Stripes, January 10, 2007
17) Voice of Russia, January 9, 2007
18) Reuters, January 10, 2007
19) Stars and Stripes, January 10, 2007
20) The Nation, January 3, 2007
21) Stars and Stripes, March 8, 2007
22) Agence France-Presse, December 22, 2005
23) The Standard (Kenya), October 29, 2008
24) Associated Press,December 23, 2009
25) European Union Naval Force Somalia
26) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Maritime Component Command Headquarters Northwood
September 11, 2009
27) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations
January 27, 2010
28) Royal Navy, March 30, 2010
29) Garowe Online, April 8, 2010
30) The Nation, October 29, 2009
31) Ibid
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

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