Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

U.S. Army Africa: What is it?

February 22, 2009

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U.S. Army Africa: What is it?

Based in Vicenza, Italy, U.S. Army Africa is America’s first and only All-Army team dedicated to achieving positive change in Africa. As the Army component to United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM), U.S. Army Africa, in concert with national and international partners, conducts sustained security engagement with African land forces to promote peace, stability and security in Africa. As directed, the command deploys as a contingency headquarters in support of crisis response.

The transformation to U.S. Army Africa symbolizes America’s enduring commitment to Africa. With about 250 members in the command, the Army recognizes U.S. Army Africa’s current structure and size are inadequate and are analyzing options to increase the capabilities of the command. Regardless of size, U.S. Army Africa acknowledges the responsibility to create a world-class organization that is well-designed, expertly run and mission focused.


Just a few months ago, U.S. Army Africa had only a few members with operational experience and little knowledge of Africa’s history, geography and security challenges. Today, all of U.S. Army Africa’s primary staff officers and many of its junior officers and non-commissioned officers have participated in planning activities, staff talks, or exchange programs in Africa. The Command also embarked on a training and education program including week-long seminars from African experts to members of USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and added African modules to the Leader Development and Education for Sustained Peace program on-line.

Data: US Army

Southern European Task Force – U.S. Army Africa

December 15, 2008
C-17 Globemaster III

C-17 Globemaster III

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‘A team like no other,’ the United States Southern European Task Force (SETAF) is the Army’s premier organization dedicated to achieving positive change in Africa. As the Army component to U.S. Africa Command, SETAF, in concert with national and international partners, conducts sustained security engagement with African land forces to promote peace, stability and security in Africa. As directed, SETAF will deploy as a contingency headquarters in support of crisis response.

Acknowledging the emerging strategic importance of Africa, U.S. Africa Command was formed Oct. 1, 2007. The U.S. Army has worked with the Defense Department to further develop, organize and unify the military capability for U.S. Africa Command. SETAF, stationed in Vicenza, Italy, since 1955, has a long history of operating on the continent and partnering with African nations. For the past 15 years, SETAF has provided crisis response, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance on the African continent.

SETAF is learning, growing and building capacity and capability to meet the requirements needed to coordinate U.S. Army activities in Africa. SETAF will build and strengthen relationships with African army organizations, along with national and international partners to promote a stable and secure Africa.

Specifically, SETAF will continue to refine its operational practices while focusing in four areas: Grow, Partner, Engage and Act. It will lay the foundation for future success while preparing to assume full responsibility for all U.S. Army operations in Africa. SETAF will also become a trusted and reliable partner for African militaries and security institutions, our allies, our U.S. Africa Command teammates, and other U.S. government agencies and international organizations working in Africa. SETAF will collaborate with African partner nations to transform security forces into contributors to peace with the capabilities and capacity required to accomplish the mission in support of lawful authorities.

Amid this transformation, SETAF will sustain and grow its enduring bilateral relationships with Italian military and civil institutions and among the Italian communities where we live. 

Since the 1990’s, SETAF has teamed with African nations as part of its operational focus. SETAF routinely conducted military-to-military training activities in Africa and performed humanitarian relief operations in Africa; Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo and former Zaire. The transformation to U.S. Army Africa allows SETAF to focus primarily on emerging African nations an
d build the capacity of our African partners, and better enable them to both improve security and prevent conflict.

AFSOC’s CV-22 Ospreys — A Big Win in Africa

December 13, 2008

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The final two CV-22s broke across the Florida horizon just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. And after a 5,300 nautical mile flight across the Atlantic ocean, they had surely worked up an appetite.

The aircraft, from the 8th Special Operations Squadron, arrived home Nov. 26 on the heels of two other CV-22s, all of which had spent the last month in Bamako, Mali supporting Exercise FLINTLOCK-09, a regularly scheduled training exercise in the Trans-Saharan region designed build relationships and capacity and to enhance African nations’ ability to patrol and control their sovereign territory.

The exercise marked an important milestone for the CV-22s as their first operational deployment.

“This is something we’ve been waiting for for a long time,” said Maj. Jim Rowe, an 8th SOS pilot, fresh out of the cockpit from the trans-Atlantic flight. “It was one of the highlights of my military career.”

The exercise included personnel from 15 countries, and the CV-22 served as a platform for multinational training. Specifically, the aircraft was used to transport Malian and Senegalese special operations forces and their leadership teams.

“We did long range, vertical lift, and dropped [teams] off at a landing zone,” said Capt. Dennis Woodlief, 8th SOS pilot. “They practiced their ground movements, then we brought them back.”

Lt. Col. Eric Hill, 8th SOS squadron commander, said missions like this allowed the CV-22 to take advantage of its unique capabilities as a tiltrotor aircraft.

“The tyranny of distance in the African continent is amazing,” he said. “We were able to go over 500 nautical miles, infiltrate a small team for them to run their exercise, and bring them back all the way to home base without doing an air refueling stop. And we were able to do that in the span of about four hours. ”

“It would take the MH-53 twice, sometimes three times as long [to do these missions],” Captain Woodlief said. “And we did it with just one aircraft.”

Colonel Hill said the CV-22 is an “unprecedented capability.” And with the new capability, there were also new lessons to be learned.

“We learned some lessons like we always do on different equipment we’d like to have and requirements that we’ll have in the future,” he said.

Many of those lessons revolve around tailoring maintenance packages for future deployments.

The 1st Special Operations Helicopter Maintenance Squadron deployed to Bamako in support of the 8th SOS. Because the exercise was held at a remote location rather than an established base, one of the maintenance challenges was self-deploying with all the parts and equipment they needed to keep the CV-22s operational for the entire exercise – and for the cumulative 10,000 nautical mile trans-Atlantic flights.

“We have a laundry list about three pages long of things we’d like to take next time,” said Master Sgt. Craig Kornely, the squadron’s lead production supervisor. “As we grow into the machine, we realize our needs for equipment and resources.”

But despite the challenges of operating a new aircraft for the first time overseas and in an austere environment, the squadron had a perfect mission success rate during the exercise.

“We had zero maintenance cancels, zero delays, and we executed 100 percent every time,” Captain Woodlief said. “I think we went above and beyond everyone’s expectations.”

Colonel Hill said he was extremely proud of the 8th SOS and 1st SOHMXS’s accomplishments.

“There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing [your squadron] take a revolutionary capability out on its first deployment, have huge mission success, meet every mission task, and most importantly bring everybody back to home base safely,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud as a squadron commander.”


Lauren Johnson

Refueling Operation Flintlock

December 13, 2008

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Two 100th Air Refueling Wing aircrews recently provided air refueling in support of Operation Flintlock, a joint military exercise in Bamako, Mali which concluded Nov. 20. 

According to a release by United States Africa Command Public Affairs, “The principal purpose of Flintlock is to assist partner nations to establish and develop military interoperability and strengthen regional relationships, in support of future combined humanitarian, peacekeeping and disaster relief operations. It includes participants from the Trans-Saharan nations and the U.S. as well as advisors from multiple European countries.” 

The exercise also included the first Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22 Osprey oceanic crossing, according to Lt. Col. Bruce McNaughton, 100th ARW director of staff, and aircraft commander of one of the KC-135 Stratotankers (from RAF Mildenhall) taking part in the mission. 

The Osprey is a self-deployable aircraft providing increased speed and range over other rotary-wing aircraft which enable AFSOC aircrews to execute long-range special operations missions, according to an Air Force fact sheet. 

The Osprey can perform missions that normally require both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. It takes off vertically, and once airborne, the nacelles (engine and pro-rotor group) on each wing can rotate into a forward position. 

Max Blumenfeld, Operation Flintlock public affairs officer, wrote in an e-mail that the 352nd Special Operations Group’s MC-130s and the CV-22s are “significant platforms for an ongoing effort in the Trans-Sahara region for regional cooperation and security. Flintlock is an established SOF exercise which continually builds from experiences gained from previous Flintlocks and its smaller scale version; Silent Warrior.”

After launching from Lajes-Field, Azores, Portugal, Oct. 22, Colonel McNaughton and his aircrew refueled a 352nd SOG aircrew’s MC-130 – also from RAF Mildenhall – which in turn refueled the CV-22s. 

“I call it, ‘Slowin’ down the gas,'” said the aircraft commander. “Having that middleman (the MC-130) slows the refueling down (passing fuel from one aircraft to another then to another). We weren’t able to refuel the CV-22 directly; we used a boom to refuel the (SOG aircraft), then that aircraft used a probe and drogue system to refuel the CV-22. We do have that capability, but primarily use it for Navy jets; our drogues aren’t designed to operate at lower speeds.” 

The colonel explained that he and his aircrew met face to face with the MC-130 and CV-22 pilots in Lajes-Field, so they could brief them before the refueling took place. 

“We’ve refueled MC-130s before, but the question arose as to whether the Ospreys could keep up with us, and where they were physically going to be while we refueled the MC-130,” he said. “The briefing beforehand allowed us to iron out those problems and find solutions.” 

On Colonel McNaughton’s aircraft there were four crewmembers and three crew chiefs; three crewmembers flew on the other KC-135 from RAF Mildenhall. 

The co-pilot, 1st Lt. Jeff Lascurain, 351st Air Refueling Squadron, said he’d never seen or worked a mission with the Osprey aircraft before. 

“It’s always cool to see a new type of aircraft on your wing,” he said, explaining that during the refueling the Ospreys were positioned off the left wing, about one mile out. 

“I was on the right-hand side of the plane, so my best view of the CV-22s was as we were making our turn to rejoin with the MC-130 and CV-22 formation,” he said. 

Colonel McNaughton said he had no idea his scheduled mission would turn into helping refuel the new AFSOC aircraft. 

“We usually have a one-day run to Lajes-Field each week, and I volunteered for that particular week – and it turned into this,” he said. “It was a hoot being part of it.” 

Mr. Blumenfeld said the mission was evidence of the importance of aerial refueling. 

“The CV-22 ‘s range is dependent on your efforts and thus provides it that ‘far reach’ capability as evidenced by its transatlantic flight,” he wrote. “This reach capability is important due to the fact that Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara is conducted over a geographic area the size of (the continental United States).” 

He also said the exercise is the result of great interagency communication and coordination. 

Flintlock “has geo-political impact as the exercise involves African partner nations as well as European partner nations such as Germany, the Netherlands and the UK,” he explained.

V-22 Osprey Excels in Africa and Iraq

November 30, 2008

The CV-22 Osprey has made its operational debut with the US Air Force Special Operations Command AFSOC.  Several CV-22 deployed to Africa in November to participate in the anti-terrorism exercise Flintlock 09. The MV-22 Osprey variant has already served in Iraq with the US Marine Corps USMC.

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JFCOM, SOCOM Mull Possible Stand-Up of New Task Forces in Africa

October 21, 2008
Aviation Calendar 2009

Aviation Calendar 2009

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U.S. Africa Command’s special operations shop is mulling the possibility of standing up new elite task forces on the continent, a military official involved tells Inside the Pentagon. (Subscription Required)

Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group Completes Multinational Exercise

October 12, 2008
Ships from the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TR CSG), assigned to Commander U.S. 6th Fleet, participated in a one-day theater security cooperation (TSC) exercise with units from the South African and French navies while underway in the Indian Ocean Oct. 9.

The Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) (TR) and the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) operated with three South African ships and one French Navy ship in a variety of tactical exercises aimed at increasing coordination and interoperability.

The TSC exercise consisted of tactical communications, coordinated shiphandling maneuvers and an aerial photo shoot of the ships in formation, highlighting the growing interaction between the U.S. and South African navies.

“It was a pleasure working with the South African Navy during this seamanship exercise. Their skills were superb,” said Rear Adm. Frank Pandolfe, commander, Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group. “This exercise demonstrates our shared desire for security and stability in the region and is an important step toward strengthening the capabilities needed to achieve those goals.”

TR and Monterey were joined by the South African Navy frigate SAS Isandlwana (F146), oiler SAS Drakensburg (A301), patrol boat SAS Isaac Dyobia (P1565), and the French Navy frigate FN Floreal (F730) for the multinational exercise.

This exercise follows TR’s historic port visit to Cape Town, marking the first carrier visit to South Africa in more than 40 years. During the port visit, TR and Monterey (CG 61) hosted thousands of visitors, participated in multiple regional security cooperation activities and completed community relations activities.

TRCSG is conducting operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

M.P. Quisao (NNS)

Ward Discusses U.S. Africa Command’s Goals

October 9, 2008
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Aviation Calendar 2009

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Army Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward gets a bit hot under the collar when he confronts the myths about U.S. Africa Command, America’s newest unified command.

Ward, the commander of AfriCom, takes every opportunity to emphasize the new organization in no way represents a “militarization” of U.S. foreign policy on the continent.

The command was not formed to protect America’s oil supply, it is not going to set up bases, posts or airfields and base American troops in Africa, and it has no intention of moving from its Stuttgart, Germany, headquarters any time in the foreseeable future, he points out with regularity.

The general remained excited – but in a good way – when he discussed the reality of Africa Command and its potential during an interview following the unfurling of the command’s colors yesterday in the Pentagon.

The command is responsible for areas formerly covered by U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Pacific Command, and is the American military’s sixth unified geographic command. But it is unique. The command is the first joint service combatant command with an interagency organization.

From the beginning, Ward said, interagency partners were going to be integral parts of AfriCom. The deputy commander is Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates – a career foreign service officer who has spent two decades on the continent. State Department officials head other civil-military organizations in the command.

The U.S. Agency for International Development also has supplied personnel to Africa Command. USAID officials have worked delivering humanitarian supplies after disasters around the globe and have a wealth of knowledge about Africa. Other agencies – the Commerce, Treasury and Homeland Security departments among them – also are players in the command.

Integration of interagency members into the staff is a priority for Ward, he said, because he already sees benefits.

“As we define and plan our work, it is better informed because we understand what is being done by other members of our government,” Ward said. The command can ensure their work is complementary to all the other programs the U.S. government has on the continent.

And those efforts are really the main focus in Africa. Combating the spread of AIDS, managing rural development, encouraging good governance, combating trafficking in humans, helping internally displaced people and refugees and more take up the lion’s share of U.S. money spent in Africa.

Africa Command must be in line with all these programs, Ward said.

“What we do has to be within the construct of the stated foreign policy objectives,” he explained. For example, he said, AfriCom does not have a policy on Darfur — the United States government has a Darfur policy. If any U.S. policy on the continent has a military component, the general said, then Africa Command would focus on that.

The military will seek to help other agency efforts, not to replace them, Ward said. The military is not the development authority for Africa, he noted. “That’s our USAID teammates,” Ward said. “They didn’t come to the command so that we now take over development. They are here so we are more cognizant of developmental activities as we go on.”

For example, if U.S. Africa Command sponsors a peacekeeping training exercise with an African nation and some infrastructure must be built to support it, USAID personnel can help pinpoint where it will do the most good for follow-on use, the general said. “If we don’t have that dialogue, if we don’t have that communication, we may never know that, and we’ve lost an opportunity,” he said.

The same holds true with the command’s ability to provide humanitarian support. USAID provides the vast majority of medical and veterinary aid.

“If our military doctors can bring added value to those other programs, then that’s what we want to do,” he said. “But we have to know it in advance so it will bring greater value to the totality of U.S. government efforts.”

Ward said he understands that the interagency partners are the experts on the continent. The command covers 53 nations, and the vastness of the continent means that a policy that works in Botswana probably won’t work in Burkina Faso. The interagency partners know the area, they know the leaders, they know the people, and they can point the military to the best use of its resources, he said.

What the military brings to the equation is expertise in planning, logistics and training, and the resources to make things happen, Ward said. If USAID, for example, must get 300,000 humanitarian daily rations to a disaster area quickly, then its leaders can turn to U.S. Africa Command for assistance.

“If we can bring a capability to one of our interagency partners, then I think we ought to do that,” Ward said. “But I draw a distinction between leading that effort and supporting that effort. If we have a capability that one of our interagency partners lacks, and we can come in and support their overall efforts, then that is something that we should look to do.”

By working in a focused manner day-to-day with interagency partners, other organizations and the African nations, Ward said, the hope is that AfriCom, over time, will help to bring about a more secure and stable environment to allow stability to flourish on the continent.

The command is focused on Africa and listens to African leaders in a way that hasn’t happened in the past, Ward said. The key phrase for the command is “sustained security engagement,” he said, acknowledging that the “sustained” portion has not always happened, as a lack of follow-up in the past led to new capabilities decaying before they could take root. “Going back so that things can be built upon, that’s what’s different,” Ward said.

To illustrate his point that the command will work to enhance Africans’ ability to take charge of their security, Ward recalled a request from an African nation for some assistance. The nation was readying to deploy peacekeepers, he said, and needed help in how to load aircraft for deployment – how to palletize goods, how to tie things down, how to safeguard hazardous substances and so on. The command sent a U.S. Army lieutenant, an Army sergeant and an Air Force sergeant to the country, where they spent three weeks training the nation’s loadmasters.

Along the way, the Americans learned some of the local language and customs. “At the end, the crewmen were able to do the mission professionally and with all safeguards,” Ward said. “I got a letter from the chief of defense asking if he could have the same three guys back so he could train more. These are relationships being developed.”

The team will go back, and later another team will go in, and still another will visit. The follow-up is as important as the original capability, Ward said, and these are capabilities that the nations ask for.

American servicemembers work side by side with African militaries, and they tell Ward how rewarding that work is for them.

“Helping these militaries provide their own security may mean we are not there reacting to a situation,” Ward said. “[American servicemembers are] doing it in such a way that they are preventing something rather than to try to stop something or react to something. They really appreciated it.”

Ward spoke of visiting one U.S. unit that served in Iraq, then Afghanistan, and was now part of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa in Djibouti.

“To an individual, they thought what they were doing mattered and made a difference, and [that] what they were doing helped promote stability instead of having to intervene to bring stability back,” Ward said. “It goes back to our primary work trying to prevent conflict as opposed to having to react to a conflict. The young men and women who are doing it are happy to be involved in those tasks.”

The command is small – roughly 2,000 servicemembers in all of Africa, with most concentrated in the Horn of Africa. The command spends more time listening to partners and friends on the continent, and then moves out accordingly. “We do this based on what they ask us to do in their support – on their behalf,” Ward said.

Ward said it’s important to understand there are other viewpoints and to try to see situations as your friends see them.

“The idea of getting out of your foxhole and going downrange and looking back at it from the perspective of others is important,” he said. “This will help us succeed.”

Jim Garamone (AFPS)

US Counter-Terrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa

September 11, 2008
USS Gonzalez

USS Gonzalez

A rainbow welcomes US Navy AEGIS destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) to Mombasa, Kenya. Find this beautiful picture as a poster or framed art print starting at $ 7.99 at The PatriArt Gallery.

The struggle between the United States and its allies against terrorist groups and individuals motivated by Islamic extremism thrusts SSA forward as a front in the global conflict. The author assesses that a fundamental and dangerous misunderstanding of SSA may be leading U.S. policy astray, and recommends a new grand strategic approach to U.S. counterterrorism policy.

Read or download the entire e-book for free at the US Army Strategic Studies Institute link below:

U.S. Counterterrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa: Understanding Costs, Cultures, and Conflicts, by Dr. Conovan C. Chau.

US Navy and Allies to Crack Down on Pirates

July 26, 2008

US Navy Destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) off Mombasa, Kenya. This image can grace your office or den. Visit the PatriArt Gallery for a poster or framed art print.

The U.S. and international military forces are taking more aggressive action off the African coast as bolder and more violent pirates imperil oil shipments and other trade, reports the Navy Times.

The area is a key shipping route for cargo transported to and from the U.S. and elsewhere. In response to pirate attacks, the U.S. has stepped up its patrols to deter them and sometimes intervened to rescue hostages and ships. It also has increased its intelligence-sharing in the area, said Navy Lt. Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the 5th Fleet in Bahrain, which patrols Middle Eastern and African waters.

The U.S. is “very concerned about the increasing number of acts of piracy and armed robbery” off the Somali coast, he said. Somalia’s weak government has admitted it can’t control its territorial waters, and Nigeria is fending off a rebel group.

A U.N. Security Council resolution, pushed by the U.S. and passed June 2, allows the U.S. and its coalition allies to intervene by “all necessary means” for the next six months to stop piracy off the Somali coast. Coalition ships have since scared off pirates in at least two attacks, said the London-based International Maritime Bureau.

Read the full article at the Navy Times.