U.S. Militarizing Africa

July 6, 2003

On Monday, July 7, George Bush begins a trip to five African countries. Bush's trip comes at a time when the U.S. is increasing its military presence on the continent.

Last week Bush instructed the Pentagon to draw up plans to prepare for U.S. intervention in Liberia and Defense Department officials admitted that the deployment of 500 to 2,000 soldiers is "all but certain."

For decades the U.S. military as been largely excluded from Africa but today it is trying to set up basing agreements, troop deployments and joint training as well as military agreements with countries all across the continent. For example, in Senegal and Uganda, two countries that Bush will visit on his trip, the U.S. wants to get agreements for the refueling of its military aircraft. Other recent U.S. military deployments in Africa include:

-- 1,800 U.S. troops have been deployed in Djibouti on "counterterrorism operations" since last fall.

-- Within the last few years, the Pentagon has negotiated agreements which allow U.S. aircraft to refuel at bases in Ghana, Senegal, Gabon, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia.

-- For the last 3 years, U.S. Special Forces have conducted joint exercises with Moroccan troops.

-- This fall, U.S. soldiers will begin joint patrolling and "intelligence gathering" with local armies in Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad.