As the United States sensibly backs its military out of Afghanistan and considers drawing down the remaining 5,000 American troops in Iraq, it is time to review the expanded U.S. military presence in West and East Africa (~7,000 troops), particularly counterterror operations. Such a review was announced by Secretary of Defense Mike Esper in December 2019. […]
It is time to pull back these forces. They reflect a militarization of U.S. foreign policy that has accelerated since 2001. Claims to the contrary, the military does not do these operations particularly well and there is growing evidence that they are counterproductive, generating more terrorists than they eliminate and exacerbating instability. They do nothing to counter Chinese or Russian influence in Africa, despite claims that they do. The threat they target is not a vital U.S. interest. In sum, by militarizing U.S. engagement in Africa, security assistance, training, and operations are harming U.S. security interests. […]
The American military is not the right tool for the counterterror mission. The Sahel operation is not making progress, despite the claim by one U.S. special operations captain that U.S. forces are “uniquely suited” to provide this training and support. As the U.S. effort has grown, the number of terrorist attacks in the region has grown exponentially. Since 2010 the number of Islamist groups operating in North, West, and East Africa has risen from five to 25, according to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies of the National Defense University in Washington, DC.
The number of violent incidents for which these groups are responsible has risen 14 percent in the past year. AFRICOM and special operators argue that the increase in violence justifies an even greater U.S. commitment. It is equally plausible that a militarized approach to counterterrorism has set in motion a tit-for-tat process that has accelerated the threat. Läs artikel