Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Karen DeYoung, "US Africa Command Trims Its Aspirations," Washington Post, June 1, 2008.

The trouble was, no one consulted the Africans....It was seen as a massive infusion of military might onto a continent that was quite proud of having removed foreign powers from its soil

Nations Loath to Host Force; Aid Groups Resisted Military Plan to Take On Relief Work

The U.S. Africa Command, designed to boost America's image and prevent terrorist inroads on the continent, has scaled back its ambitions after African governments refused to host it and aid groups protested plans to expand the military's role in economic development in the region.

Africom, due to begin operations Oct. 1, will now be based for the foreseeable future in Stuttgart, Germany, with five smaller regional offices planned for the continent on hold while the military searches for places to put them.

Nonmilitary jobs, created within Africom to highlight new cooperation between the Pentagon and the State Department, have been hard to fill and will initially total fewer than 50 of 1,300 headquarters personnel. Plans to broaden the military's more traditional overseas training and liaison responsibilities to include development and relief tasks were curbed after U.S.-funded aid groups sharply objected to working alongside troops.


At home, major U.S. nongovernmental aid organizations protested that what might work in the Iraq war zone -- where government civilian-military "provincial reconstruction teams" operate together under heavy security to build local governing capacity and infrastructure -- was ill-suited for non-conflict zones. Not only would a military presence draw unwanted attention and increased risk for development workers, they argued, the military had neither the training nor the staying power for effective development.


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