Africa key to Pentagon counterterrorism strategy
Thu Sep 14, 2006 8:27am ET
By David Morgan
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly five years after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Africa has emerged as a leading front in a U.S. military campaign to deny al Qaeda a new safe haven in the continent's vast, hard-to-govern regions.
Small groups of special forces, known as A-teams and often numbering less than a dozen soldiers, have begun traversing the hinterlands of more than a dozen countries in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel and Sahara regions.
Pentagon officials say the main aim is to help African governments from Sudan to Senegal and Nigeria train and equip local troops to combat Islamist militants in swathes of open country, already known as havens for smugglers and bandits.
Meanwhile, even smaller units of U.S. civil affairs troops have traveled to remote villages to dispense medical care, dig wells and build schools, hoping to make militancy less attractive.
"They're also identifying all the watering holes and any natural features, like caves, that could be used as the basis for training camps. And they're trying to establish links with local people to find out who's in the passing caravans seen by satellites," said a former intelligence official.
The strategy, known to Pentagon officials as "low-intensity warfare," has been used by the U.S. military in developing countries since World War Two.
Similar campaigns are underway from the Philippines to the Caucasus and Latin America, and ultimately could grow to include 60 countries, according to independent analysts.
The objective, officials say, is to use a combination of humanitarian aid and small-scale military force to undermine insurgencies long before they can threaten local governments allied with the U.S. war on terrorism...."
READ THE REST AT THE LINK ABOVE
IN OTHER NEWS:
There is a RUMOR that CENTCOM is going to be split and the Horn of Afrika moved into a new command called AfricaCOM.