Conflict in Africa – Niger investigation, France in the Sahel – do U.S. and French interests align, what is next for Libya, Belgium in Africa, rebellion in Congo, losing a SOF war in Africa, drone strikes in Somalia, counterterror strategy in sub-Saharan Africa, partnering with Somalia’s Police in CT fight, and video on Boko Haram.
Niger Investigation into SF Mission. A two-star general officer from U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is heading a military investigation into the deaths of four members of the 3rd Special Forces Group in Niger. The investigation should be completed in early 2018. See “Pentagon: Niger investigation to be completed by January 2018”, Military Times, November 9, 2017. Other news reports indicate the SGT La David Johnson was found with his hands bound – indicating capture before his death.
French Dilemma in Africa. France is taking a leading role in affairs in the Sahel region of Africa. It has committed 4,000 personnel to assist Mali and other neighboring nations in dampening down the Islamic jihadist threat. The U.S., with a 800 man contingent in Niger and smaller elements operating in other nations in the region is working with the French. France is dependent on the ISR capability that the U.S. provides through its two drone bases in Niger. One worry that French observers have is that due to the reliance on US ISR assets the French may get sucked into operations that assist the US but that are contrary to French interests. Read more in “Just Say No: France struggles with dependency on US troops in Africa”, Defense News, November 10, 2017.
Rebellion Fears in the Congo. Small armed groups are contesting territory in remote areas of eastern Congo. While government officials describe these armed groups as ‘flash in the pan’ movements other observers state they may be around for a while. Read “Rebellion fears grow in eastern Congo”, IRIN News, October 31, 2017.
Losing a SOF War in Africa. One national security writer thinks that targeted killing by drones and SOF on the ground in Africa can be counterproductive. Read “How to Lose a Special Operations War in Africa”, The National Interest, November 12, 2017.
A Plan for Libya. Most members of the SOF community are aware of the participation of the U.S. military in Libya over the past few years. SOF units have assisted various factions in the Libyan conflict in the fight against the Islamic State fighters that took control of Sirte, Libya. The ISIS fighters have now fled to more remote areas of Libya and to some neighboring countries. However the Salafi-jihadi movement is still strong and demands attention. While limited SOF engagement and other military activities (drone attacks, etc.) are useful in keeping ISIS at bay, Emily Estelle of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) believes a more comprehensive approach is needed. Read her thoughts in a 110-page report entitled “A Strategy for Success in Libya”, Critical Threats, November 9, 2017.
Cattle Herders Turning to Jihad. A news report examines how common every-day cattle herders from Mali and Niger morph into Islamic jihadists. (Reuters, November 12, 2017).
Drone Strikes in Somalia. U.S. forces have conducted numerous drones strikes in the last few days in Somalia in a stepped-up campaign against the Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab and the Islamic State. Al-Shabab has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and has publicly committed to planning and conducting attacks against the U.S. and neighbors in the region. The U.S. is partnering with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali National Security Forces (SNSF). (Time, Nov 12, 2017).
A Different Counter Terror Strategy for Africa. One writer thinks that the insertion of Special Forces teams throughout Africa to defeat terrorist groups and stop the spread of terrorism is overreaching. He believes that fostering good governance and development will go much further in halting the spread of terrorism. Read “American Amnesia: Counterterror Strategy in Sub-Saharan Africa”, Georgetown Security Studies Review, November 7, 2017.
U.S. State Dept Assisting Somalia Police Units. An elite Somalia Police Unit formed with funding and assistance from the State Department is playing a key role in stopping terror attacks in Somalia. Read “Partnering with Somalia’s Police to Build Counterterrorism Capacity”, DIPNOTE, November 7, 2017.
Belgian Military in Africa. Belgium has committed to assisting MINUSMA and other operations in Africa. (A L’Avant-Garde, Nov 11, 2017). (French language article).
Video Documentary on Nigeria’s Boko Haram. A 56-minute long online video documents the struggle in Nigeria against Boko Haram but provides an optimistic view of how all is not lost in Nigeria. Watch Journey From Evil, Voice of America (VOA), November 2017. https://projects.voanews.com/boko-haram-journey-from-evil/