AFRICOM: Key Facts and Concerns (August 2008)
AFRICOM expands of the role of the U.S. military on the African Continent, potentially shifting humanitarian resources from civilians to military personnel. We reject this militarization of foreign engagement. We also repudiate the role of the U.S. military and private military contractors in training and equipping African soldiers. Instead, our vision is a comprehensive U.S. foreign policy grounded in true partnership with the African Union, African governments, and civil society on peace, justice, security, and development.
Over the last year AFRICOM has been touted as a military command, a development agency, and as a force for creating security and stability on the African continent by “helping Africans help themselves.” Its competing mission is not simply a public relations problem – it is a problem inherent within the structure of AFRICOM itself.
While we recognize the inefficiency of the EUCOM-PACOM-CENTCOM structure and the need to coordinate DOD efforts, we condemn the further extension of the U.S. military footprint on African soil and the inclusion of soft power in AFRICOM’s mandate.
The people of the African Continent have expressed the need for better education systems, health care, jobs, roads, clean water, and good governance – diplomatic and development tasks, not military missions. The majority of African civil society are adamant against the increased presence of U.S. soldiers, military programs, and private contractors.
Today, AFRICOM’s primary mission is to “legitimize” African militaries by engaging in “train and equip” activities which, to date, have been largely inefficient and detrimental.
The U.S. is currently providing military equipment and training to governments which are widely seen as corrupt, illegitimate, oppressive, or which are guilty of fueling instability within its own country or across borders. Examples include Chad, Uganda, Rwanda, and Equatorial Guinea, among others.
In a 2008 report, Human Rights Watch notes with concern the U.S. training of Chadian forces, several of whom have now defected to join rebel movements.
Consider this, from a recent report by the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute: In the 1980’s, the U.S. spent approximately $500 million to train and equip Samuel Doe’s army. “Every armed force that plundered Liberia over the past 25 years had its core in these U.S.-trained Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers. Today, millions of dollars are awarded each year to DynCorp International, a private security contractor, to train Liberian forces.
The U.S. should consider the historical effect of irresponsible military involvement in Africa. From propping up human rights abusers like Samuel Doe and Mobutu Sese Seko to the U.S.-Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006, the U.S. follows its own interests with little regard for the people of Africa. The current expansion of the U.S. military in Africa, embodied by AFRICOM, is primarily designed to increase access to Africa’s oil, counter terror, and offset China’s economic influence in the region. As such, if forced to choose, AFRICOM personnel will safeguard U.S. interests over African interests.
Although AFRICOM claims Ambassadors will retain Chief of Mission authority in their respective countries, the influence of General William Ward – a four-star, persuasive general – is likely to undermine the sovereign decisions of Ambassadors. Furthermore, with Ambassador Mary Yates serving as second-in-command, General Ward is seen as holding jurisdiction over the State Department in Africa.
Militarism in Africa: A Guidebook
By Chioma Oruh
Click here to download!
AFRICOM: STATEMENT OF CONCERN (October 2007)
We are a group of concerned U.S. and Africa based organizations and individuals opposed to the creation of AFRICOM. AFRICOM represents the expansion of the role of the U.S. military – potentially shifting the face of disaster response and humanitarian assistance from civilians to military personnel. Our vision is a comprehensive U.S. foreign policy grounded in true partnership with the African Union, African governments, and civil society on peace, justice, security, and development.
Africa Action Africa Faith and Justice Network African Security Research Project Arms and Security Initiative, New America Foundation Association of Concerned Africa Scholars Center for Democratic Empowerment, Liberia Foreign Policy In Focus Missionaries of Africa Pan Africa Network, Oakland CA Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Justice and Peace Office Resolve Uganda TransAfrica Forum United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society Washington Office on Africa The Hip Hop Caucus
John Cavanagh, Institute For Policy Studies
Alternatives and Recommendations for AFRICOM
Instead of establishing a military command, the US government should promote a just security doctrine. AFRICOM is not what the people of Africa need and it is not what will achieve long-term stability on the continent. What is needed is a boost in education, job opportunities, health care, debt relief, fair trade policies, and many other things that would ensure development, peace and prosperity.
With enough pressure from the American people, Congress can decline to fund AFRICOM in the coming defense appropriations cycle. President Bush recently unveiled his FY2009 Defense Budget. Within it, he requested $389 million for the AFRICOM headquarter operations in Stuttgart, millions more for operations on the continent, and a continuation of the funding for the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa located in Djibouti.
It is our hope that Congress will take this stand against AFRICOM. However, if AFRICOM must be established, we insist that:
The role of Ambassadors as point-persons in US-Africa policy is maintained and that the command structure is delineated to ensure that diplomatic efforts do not fall under the jurisdiction of the military.
Congress has sufficient oversight whether through regular reports or a special committee.
Restrictions are placed on funding to ensure that private military sub-contractors are never used to carry out the mandate of AFRICOM.
Restrictions are placed on funding to ensure that the military is under the same guidance as the State Department and that human rights violations never occur.
When training and equipping foreign armies, local communities are made fully aware of US presence and its intended goals.
The military acts in the most culturally respectful way possible when engaging in activities on the continent.
Every decision is made with the interests of Africans in mind.
resist AFRICOM is a project by The Hip Hop Caucus, Africa Faith and Justice Network, Foreign Policy in Focus, Africa Action, TransAfrica Forum, and many other concerned organizations and individuals
My source for the above info:
PLease call your reps STOP AFRICOMM NOW!