US military’s humanitarian activities in Africa

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The U.S. is trying to win a war for the hearts and minds of Africa, a war zone about which most Americans are completely unaware.

However, a Pentagon investigation suggests that these various humanitarian projects in Djibouti or Ethiopia or Kenya or Tanzania may well be orphaned, ill-planned, and undocumented failures-in-the-making.  This evidence of failure has an eerie resonance for previous efforts to use humanitarian aid and infrastructure projects to sway local populations in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan.  In each case, the operations failed in spectacular ways, but were only fully acknowledged after years of futility and billions of dollars in waste.

In Africa, the sums and scale involved are smaller than the Mideast or Southeast Asia, but U.S. military humanitarian assistance — from medical care to infrastructure projects — is a form of “security cooperation.”  According to the latest edition published earlier this year: “When these activities are used to defeat an insurgency, they are part of a counterinsurgency operation. While not all security cooperation activities are in support of counterinsurgency, security cooperation can be an effective counterinsurgency tool.  These activities help the U.S. and the host nation gain credibility and help the host nation build legitimacy. These efforts can help prevent insurgencies…”

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and its subordinate command, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) based at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, have spent years engaged in such humanitarian projects.  These have been touted in news releases at their websites in lieu of candid information on the true scale and scope of AFRICOM’s operations.      Read more on the subject

[Excerpt of article by Nick Turse, managing editor of]

This entry was posted in by Grant Montgomery.

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