Documents obtained from AFRICOM by The Intercept, via the Freedom of Information Act, have exposed a vast network of U.S. bases in Africa contrary to deceptive official claims that the U.S. military maintains only a “light footprint” on the continent. America, it was revealed, has at least 34 military bases in Africa.
After the 2017 ambush in Niger that left four servicemen dead and wounded two others, American officials claimed there would be drawdowns in special operations forces and closures of outposts on the continent.
Officials said the drawdowns were necessary to focus on rivals China, Russia and the rest.
But through it all, U.S. Africa Command failed to provide concrete information about its bases on the continent, leaving in question the true scope of the American presence there, The Intercept said.
Despite the official claims and postures, documents obtained by the newspaper “offer a unique window onto the sprawling network of U.S. military outposts in Africa, including previously undisclosed or unconfirmed sites in hotspots like Libya, Niger, and Somalia”.
The Pentagon also told The Intercept that troop reductions in Africa will be modest and phased-in over several years and that no outposts are expected to close as a result of the personnel cuts.
The newspaper said “according to a 2018 briefing by AFRICOM science adviser Peter E. Teil, the military’s constellation of bases includes 34 sites scattered across the continent, with high concentrations in the north and west as well as the Horn of Africa”.
“These regions, not surprisingly, have also seen numerous U.S. drone attacks and low-profile commando raids in recent years. For example, Libya — the site of drone and commando missions but for which President Trump said he saw no U.S. military role just last year — is nonetheless home to three previously undisclosed outposts”.
“U.S. Africa Command’s posture plan is designed to secure strategic access to key locations on a continent characterized by vast distances and limited infrastructure,” Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the AFRICOM commander, told the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year, though he didn’t provide specifics on the number of bases, according to The Intercept.
“Our posture network allows forward staging of forces to provide operational flexibility and timely response to crises involving U. S. personnel or interests without creating the optic that U. S. Africa Command is militarizing Africa.”
Teil’s briefing confirms, The Intercept added, “for the first time, that the U.S. military currently has more sites in Niger — five, including two cooperative security locations — than any other country on the western side of the continent”.
“Niamey, the country’s capital, is the location of Air Base 101, a longtime U.S. drone outpost attached to Diori Hamani International Airport; the site of a Special Operations Advanced Operations Base; and the West Africa node for AFRICOM’s contractor-provided personnel recovery and casualty evacuation services”.
“The other CSL, in the remote smuggling hub of Agadez, is set to become the premier U.S. military outpost in West Africa. That drone base, located at Nigerien Air Base 201, not only boasts a $100 million construction price tag but, with operating expenses, is estimated to cost U.S. taxpayers more than a quarter-billion dollars by 2024 when the 10-year agreement for its use ends,” The Intercept added.
There are military bases virtually everywhere from Cameroon, Libya, Tunisia, to Djibouti.
Simon is a renowned international journalist, founder and publisher of TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C.