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The Pivot to Africa
Posted on Sep 7, 2013
By Nick Turse, TomDispatch
In a question-and-answer piece in Special Warfare earlier this year, Colonel John Deedrick, the commander of the 10th Special Forces Group, sounded off about his unit’s area of responsibility. “We are widely employed throughout the continent,” he said. “These are not episodic activities. We are there 365-days-a-year to share the burden, assist in shaping the environment, and exploit opportunities.”
Exploitation and “persistent engagement” are exactly what critics of U.S. military involvement in Africa have long feared, while blowback and the unforeseen consequences of U.S. military action on the continent have already contributed to catastrophic destabilization.
Despite some candid admissions by officers involved in shadowy operations, however, AFRICOM continues to insist that troop deployments are highly circumscribed. The command will not, however, allow independent observers to make their own assessments. Benson said AFRICOM does not “have a media visit program to regularly host journalists there.”
My own requests to report on U.S. operations on the continent were, in fact, rejected in short order. “We will not make an exception in this case,” Benson wrote in a recent email and followed up by emphasizing that U.S. forces are deployed in Africa only “on a limited and temporary basis.” TomDispatch’s own analysis—and a mere glance at the map of recent missions—indicates that there are, in fact, very few limits on where the U.S. military operates in Africa.
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Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch.com and a fellow at the Nation Institute. An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Nation, on the BBC, and regularly at TomDispatch. He is the author most recently of the New York Times bestseller Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. You can catch his conversation with Bill Moyers about that book by clicking here. His website is NickTurse.com.
Key to the Map of the U.S. Military’s Pivot to Africa, 2012-2013
Green markers: U.S. military training, advising, or tactical deployments during 2013
Copyright 2013 Nick Turse
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