AFRICOM releases information about only a fraction of its activities. It offers no breakdown on the nature of its operations. And it allows only a handful of cherry-picked reporters the chance to observe a few select missions. The command refuses even to offer a count of the countries in which it is “active,” preferring to keep most information about what it’s doing — and when and where — secret.
U.S. troops carry out a wide range of operations in Africa, including airstrikes targeting suspected militants, night raids aimed at kidnapping terror suspects, airlifts of French and African troops onto the battlefields of proxy wars, and evacuation operations in destabilized countries. Above all, however, the U.S. military conducts training missions, mentors allies, and funds, equips, and advises its local surrogates.
Saharan Express is a typical exercise that biennially pairs U.S. forces with members of the navies and coast guards of around a dozen mostly African countries. Operations include Juniper Micron and Echo Casemate, missions focused on aiding French and African interventions in Mali and the Central African Republic. Other “security cooperation” activities include the State Partnership Program, which teams African military forces with U.S. National Guard units and the State Department-funded Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program through which U.S. military mentors and advisors provide equipment and instruction to African units.
Many military-to-military activities and advisory missions are carried out by soldiers from the Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, as part of a “regionally aligned forces” effort that farms out specially trained U.S. troops to geographic combatant commands, like AFRICOM. Other training engagements are carried out by units from across the service branches, including Africa Partnership Station 13 whose U.S. naval personnel and Marines teach skills such as patrolling procedures and hand-to-hand combat techniques. Meanwhile, members of the Air Force recently provided assistance to Nigerian troops in areas ranging from logistics to airlift support to public affairs. Last year, according to a December 2013 document, these efforts involved everything from teaching Kenyan troops how to use Raven surveillance drones and helping Algerian forces field new mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles, or MRAPS, to training Chadian and Guinean infantrymen and aiding France’s ongoing interventions in West and Central Africa.
A website for Yemen’s Houthi community says the US army is planning to set up a naval base in a strategic area in the country’s southern Lahij Province. According to the recent report by Ansar Allah website, the naval base, which is to be established in Khor al-Umaira in southern Yemen near strategic Bab-el Mandeb, will include a floating dock, a training center and shooting ranges.
US army corps of engineers have said the construction of the naval base can be completed in some 730 days and will cost the government around USD five million.