The U.S. Army is deploying troops to 35 African nations next year, according to recent reports. America’s AFRICOM program has never been widely covered, and it seems that no one truly understood the extent of America’s interest in Africa.
An Army brigade from Fort Riley, Kan., some 4,000, soldiers, will begin helping to train African militaries. The idea is to help African troops beat back a growing terrorist threat posed by al-Qaida.
The American troops will head over in small teams over the course of the next year.
According to the Associated Press, U.S. soldiers will be sent overseas in the new year to assist only with training and equipping efforts, and will not be permitted to participate in military operations. However, that directive can easily be changed.
“If they want them for (military) operations, the brigade is our first sourcing solution because they’re prepared,” Gen. David Rodriguez, the head of U.S. Army Forces Command, told the Associated Press. “But that has to go back to the secretary of defense to get an execute order.”
The Defense Intelligence Agency is also placing a number of spies on the continent, according to officials.
“There are a lot of issues in Africa that are causing concern for the United States,” says Richard Downie, an Africa expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Particularly the spread of terrorism you have al-Qaida’s local franchise in Africa controlling two thirds of that country right now,” he says.