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USA/Africa: Peacekeeping Repackaged

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Jun 10, 2004 (040610)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

The United Nations last week approved a $2.8 billion budget for 11 peacekeeping missions for 2004-2005. New peacekeeping missions, including in Sudan, could increase this figure to as much as $4.5 billion. As of the end of April, however, member states owed $1.3 billion in arrears on their peacekeeping assessments. This included $480 million in arrears owed by the United States. The U.S. supplies just over one percent of the 53,000 military personnel involved in UN peacekeeping missions.

Neither budget arrears nor additional U.S. support for the UN were mentioned when the White House announced "new" support from the group of G8 rich countries for African peace efforts this week. This was one of many initiatives on display for the G8 summit in Sea Island, Georgia. According to a White House transcript of a June 8 briefing, a "senior administration official" said the administration would ask Congress for $660 million over five years for training for African peacekeepers, and meet more regularly with G8 countries to coordinate peacekeeping support. In response to a reporter's question about action on Sudan, the official said the humanitarian crisis in Darfur was regularly being discussed by the G8, but declined to predict any new action by the U.S. or other G8 countries.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains an excerpt from the White House briefing on what is being called the "G8 Action Plan: Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations." Also included are two recent articles from AllAfrica.com on new thinking in EUCOM, the U.S. strategic command based in Germany that covers most African countries. It is unclear whether the training and coordination referred to in the White House briefing is specifically directed towards peacekeeping, or whether it also includes the "anti-terrorist" efforts that are highlighted in the reports from EUCOM.

For additional background on recent thinking on international peacekeeping, see the two issues of AfricaFocus Bulletin for January 31, 2004 at http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/pk0401.php and http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/hrw0401.php

U.S. military programs in Africa were reviewed in a 2003 background report from the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars. A summary is available at http://www.africaaction.org/docs03/mil0303.htm, and the full report at
http://www.prairienet.org/acas/military/military.html

Future bulletins will focus on other issues in USA/Africa relations as they showed up on the agenda at the G-8 summit this week. For an overview, including links to a new Council on Foreign Relations report on the G8 and Africa, see
http://allafrica.com/stories/200406100104.html

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

Announcement: The American Friends Service Committee Africa Program is holding its first annual Bill Sutherland Training Institute for Africa Advocates on June 23-27, 2004 in Washington, DC. For more information and registration see
http://www.afsc.org/africa/toward-africa

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Africa Peace Efforts to Receive Expanded G8 Support

The White House (Washington, DC)

Press Release June 8, 2004

[excerpts only: full text available on http://www.whitehouse.gov and at http://allafrica.com/stories/200406090007.html]

G8 initiative seeks to improve coordination, training for peacekeeping

Leaders of the world's largest economic powers are following up on pledges made at previous Group of Eight (G8) summit meetings to extend greater technical and financial support to African countries involved in peacekeeping operations in Africa.

According to one senior Bush administration official, African leaders "have indicated to the G8 and to the rest of the world that for them this is a very high priority ... to take control of solving the conflicts and managing the restoration after the conflicts." ...

The centerpiece of the initiative is a pledge by the G8 countries to provide training over the next five to six years to new peacekeepers around the world, beginning in Africa. The administration official said the total number of new peacekeepers trained could be "well in excess of 50,000 around the world."

The official said that Italy has offered to devote an Italian training center for so-called "heavy police," or gendarmes, to move forward as quickly as possible with this initiative. ...

More broadly, the initiative seeks to establish a logistics support arrangement in order to move trained peacekeepers from countries willing to provide them to emerging conflict areas. ...

Following is from the White House transcript of the background briefing:

...

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: ... So the centerpiece of this initiative will be a pledge by the G8 countries to train a certain number, we hope well in excess of 50,000 peacekeepers around the world, but beginning in Africa, over the next five or six years. And it really is sort of a unique -- it's the first time the G8 has taken on a specific -- a pledge like this, and has said, we are going to train this number of peacekeepers over this time frame, and we're going to seek to equip them, and we're going to seek to help them get to where they want to be.

The initiative, very quickly, has a few components to it. We're pledging that over the next year or so we're going to put together a logistics support arrangement so that we can better coordinate getting peacekeepers to where they need to go from those countries willing to provide them, say, in Africa, from West Africa to another part of Africa where they're perhaps needed. There's going to be a clearinghouse arrangement that will serve as kind of a coordinating mechanism among the G8. ...

QUESTION: I just wanted to get some details about how you're going to fund this, because it sounds very ambitious. But training 50,000 people over the next five to six years, how much do you think that's going to cost? And do you have any firm pledges for money at the moment? Where do you expect this money is going to come from?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's a great question. And let me just say about this number, 50,000, the number that I think we're going to roll out is going to be well in excess of 50,000. I don't want to name a specific number at this stage. It will be a dramatic number, it will be much more than 50,000 that we're going to seek to train and equip over the next five, six years.

The funding -- in the first instance, we, the United States, are going to seek from the Congress $660 million to spend over the next five years for training and equipping, and we believe that that will probably go a long way toward training and equipping 45,000 to 50,000, maybe even more peacekeepers right there.

There are also ongoing training programs that are being expanded -- the French have the their recomp program in Africa that trains thousands of peacekeepers a year. The British-trained peacekeepers and thousands -- have already trained 4,000 in recent years -- the Kofi Annan Center that already exists in Africa is already a training site. So there's a lot that's going on. The European Union is doing a lot to train peacekeepers. So we have sort of on the books or in prospect just right now, today, the resources to train well in excess of 50,000. And, of course, part of the purpose of rolling out this initiative is to try to spur more activity, more spending, over the next five years.

Q: I wonder if you could go a little bit more into your idea, the clearinghouse. Would the clearinghouse be making decisions about where troops are to be deployed, and how would that connect up to U.N. efforts?

A: The U.N., of course, has done a lot of work on peacekeeping operations and how to mount them and how to deploy peacekeepers. Of course, the United Nations comes into play once there is a U.N. mandate for a peace operation. There are some 14 peacekeeping operations around the world, I think seven or eight in Africa. But there is -- in the very initial stages of a crisis, often before the United Nations has an opportunity to act or pass a mandate, what you have is an immediate need to find peacekeepers, match them up with the airlift, get them trained and get them to the site of the problem.

The idea of the clearinghouse is that we would, at the level of the G8, get experts together on a periodic basis to exchange information about the offers that are out there for airlift and for equipment and what have you, so that we already have it -- if you will, we already have a Rolodex, we already have in the bank offers of support that we can go immediately to, so that every time there's a new peace support operations need, we don't have to reinvent the wheel. ...

Q: Who exactly is in charge -- who would be in charge of these peacekeeping troops? Would it be the G8, the U.N., the AU {African Union]?

A: This doesn't change any of the current constructs that are out there. I mean, all of this is done -- is being done, obviously, with a view to the strictures that are already out there about how U.N. peacekeeping operations operate. We're doing this -- we've already briefed African leaders -- I think my colleague and others have done some of that -- African emissaries and representatives. This isn't going to change how peacekeeping operations look or how they're run. I mean, it's still the case, obviously, that when a crisis erupts, the nation that's affected or nations in the neighborhood often make requests for peacekeepers. Then a solicitation goes out. Sometimes interested nations outside the region, like the United States, France or others are involved in that process. Sometimes it's the United Nations.

This isn't going to change any of that structure. We're not talking about a new paradigm or how peacekeeping operations are controlled or regulated. ...

Q: As you all are having these discussions, a lot of the world is looking at what is happening in Sudan. Has anything come up practically in your discussions so far on that crisis, given that what is looming there is a disaster?

A: ... everyone in the G8 is concerned about Darfur. There have been discussions and actions taken in the Security Council, Commission on Human Rights, and it is not acceptable to anyone the way in which humanitarian relief is not being allowed there, and the fact that the Janjaweed militias are continuing to carry on the ethnic cleansing. So the answer to your question is, it's a continuing discussion among the G8 members, not just here, but in every forum in which they find themselves.


Africa Command Not European Command, Says Official

http://allAfrica.com

May 4, 2004

By Charles Cobb Jr. Washington, DC

The United States European Command (Eucom) will change its name to reflect a new strategic concern with Africa, according a senior Eucom official involved in the planning. Eucom "does sound extremely Eurocentric," said the official, speaking on background and on a condition of anonymity.

"Eucom gives the wrong impression; only 25 or 30 percent of the Eucom area of operation is actually Europe, unless you're counting Russia all the way out to the Urals," the official said during an interview with AllAfrica.

The official suggested "Eurafrica" would be a name that reflects the reality that "probably over half" of the Command's territory is in Africa. Other possible names are under consideration as well. The official offered no timetable for the change to take place.

Eucom's area of operations includes 43 African countries. Another seven - Djibouti, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Kenya - fall under the responsibility of the U.S. Central Command (Centcom).

The suggestion that Eucom needs a name change was made during a telephone interview in which the official, speaking from Stuttgart, Germany where Eucom is headquartered, elaborated on Pentagon concerns about Africa. The continent "is an area of enhanced new strategic concern," the official said. "Stability, combating health issues like HIV/aids, which we think will lead to instability in coming years if it's not quickly dealt with and very strongly dealt with, terrorism, and resources are probably the four big national security issues we see in Africa," the official said.

In a broad sense, the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, DC triggered this new concern. "When 9/11 happened we sat down here at Eucom. We put together a special planning team to decide what defensive and preventive measures we needed to take in Eucom in terms of combating terrorism and protecting U.S. citizens and interests. We looked at regions and prioritized those regions in terms of what we perceived at the time as the most likely area and safe haven for terrorists to operate from."

The South, Eucom planners concluded, demanded greater attention. "The region that rose to the top was northern Africa because of the large Islamic populations, because of the large areas of uncontrolled territory where the nation have a difficult time controlling their sovereign areas and because of what one would call a sympathetic or apathetic population and a number of other reasons. That's what drove us to north Africa and areas of the Sahel."

Citing some of the major "Jihadist" groups operating in the region, the official said their "primary motivation" is to "undermine and overthrow." Furthermore, according to this official, there are splinter groups "that have aligned themselves with a broader global jihadist movement." These splinter organizations "are less concerned with overthrowing a specific government and more concerned with waging a war or jihad with the west," the official said. Noting that several Moroccans were involved in the recent bombings in Spain, the official said "Madrid points out that this is not a local problem."

At this point, said the official, American 'boots on the ground' are not what Eucom envisions. "Our main goal is to give the nations of northern Africa the resources and capability to take care of their own problems. We don't want them to become like Afghanistan." He denied that a late March military campaign in Niger and Chad against the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, known as the GSPC, involved U.S. troops. "There was intelligence sharing. That was our major contribution." Other sources say that P-3 Orion aircraft guided the anti-GSPC operation and a Voice of America report said that ground troops led the Algerian army to a large weapons cache that was believed to be headed for terrorist groups.

Terrorist organizations "use the political borders between these nations, and the uncontrolled spaces to move about freely and to limit the state's ability to do anything about them." Eucom intends to "give them equipment that's right for what they need, whether it is vehicles, or communications equipment or body armor or training on how to maintain their vehicles or training on how to maintain communications systems. Maybe encryption gear so they can encrypt and talk securely."

The State Department has funded a Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI) under which Eucom is assisting Mali, Niger, Chad, and Mauritania in detecting and responding to suspicious movement of people and goods across and within their borders through training, equipment and cooperation is one model. "We may have a better lock on a group because of our superior intelligence gathering capabilities" the official insisted. "We do not see establishing U.S. bases."

In March, Nato's Joint Command Southwest (JCSW) and the Spanish Instituto Universitario announced plans for a seminar on security and cooperation with the Maghreb and Sahara as part of Nato's "Mediterranean Dialogue". And later this month a conference will be held in Europe to initiate an "African Clearing House" program aimed at avoiding duplication of efforts.

"The idea is to bring together military folks from about a dozen European nations who have engagement with African nations to compare what they are doing with what we are doing. everybody sits down and sees what everybody else is doing," the official said during the interview.


General Sees Expanding Strategic Role for U.S. European Command In Africa

http://allAfrica.com

April 15, 2004

By Charles Cobb Jr. Washington, DC

Three weeks ago, "the first meeting ever" between the chiefs of defense of North African states and Sahel states took place at the Stuttgart, Germany headquarters of the United States European Command (Eucom). Although they are next door neighbors it was "the first time that the chief of defense of Chad and the chief of defense of Niger talked to each other in their life," Eucom Deputy Commander, Charles F. Wald told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute on Tuesday.

The defense chiefs participating in the meeting came from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Niger. "When we talked to them about regional security challenges," Eucom's chief of counter terrorism in the Plans Division, Lt. Colonel Powell Smith, told allAfrica.com, "to a man they identified the greatest security challenge facing their nations as 'religious extremism' -- that's how they termed it not how we termed it and they want to combat it."

Out of that Stuttgart meeting came plans that led to a Eucom-Niger-Chad "coordinated" military operation against the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, known as the GSPC. The group, led by Algerian-born Abderrazak le Para, is said to be associated with al-Qaeda and was held responsible for the kidnapping of 32 tourists in southern Algeria last year.

After successful government crackdowns on the group in southern Algeria and Mali, members fled through Niger to Chad. In Niger, according to Defence Minister Hassane Bonto, the GSPC was working hand-in-hand with armed bandits and was using hideouts and arms caches left over from a rebellion in the 1990s by Tuareg nomads. Forty-three of the GSPC were reported killed in the combined operation, including, possibly, le Para, although that has not been confirmed.

"This was a real terrorist threat," said Wald. "Part of this group were Nigerians, Nigeroise, Chadians, Malians and some Algerians," he told the AEI meeting: "Libya is terrified of them. This is a bad group of people...They have declared allegiance to al-Qaeda. And I'll tell you one thing. I think the United States learned a lesson in Afghanistan. You don't let things go."

Eucom's campaign against the GSPC, in partnership with Chad and Niger, is an example of the growing importance of Africa to the security concerns of Eucom, Wald said. Until September 11, he acknowledged, Africa was not part of any strategic plans of Eucom, whose official area of operations includes 43 African countries. Another seven - Djibouti, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Kenya - fall under the responsibility of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). "[Africa] was always there but it wasn't a strategic there."

Oil is an important part of the strategic concern. Without African crude oil, "each year the U.S. would need an additional 10 billion gallons of gasoline," the president of ChevronTexaco Overseas Petroleum, George Kirkland, told the AEI meeting. "That's about enough for fourteen and a half million cars and trucks," he said - "more than the total number of registered vehicles in the state of New York." In 10 years, thirty percent of U.S. oil will come from the Gulf of Guinea, Wald said. "We will also become very dependent on natural gas from Africa."

Europe's vulnerability is another part of the concern. Much of Sahelian Africa is "a belt of instability," said Wald. Islamists use vast empty or sparsely-populated spaces for transit into Europe and sometimes for terrorist training. Alienation because of failed government policies in many nations makes fertile recruiting ground as well. "Terrorists training in the Sahel can be in the United States or Europe in a matter of hours," retired General Carlton W. Fulford, Wald's predecessor at Eucom who now directs the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, told the AEI meeting.

At the heart of the new strategic thrust of Eucom is working with African regional organizations: the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) in the west, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the south, the Maghreb Union in the north, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) and the East African Community in the east and the Central Africa Economic and Monetary Community (Cemac). But encouraging a new political/military geography is also necessary, said Wald. One symbol of this is the Eucom partnership with Algeria, Mali, Niger and Chad known as the Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI) that transcends the traditional north Africa - sub Sahara distinction that still divides the continent at the U.S. Department of State.

In Wald's mind, thinking outside of the box seemed to include how Eucom itself needed to be described now that it is paying strategic attention to the south. Africa is so big that Eucom breaks it up into regions, Wald said. "The United States European Command is a misnomer," he said. "One of the things we are working on is trying to figure out what should the name of the command be because this is not Europe, I guarantee you."

It is not clear whether Nato has also shifted its view on Africa and is extending its mission southward too. "De facto, Nato has a mission in Africa because we have a mission in Africa," said Wald. "Nato's interests are not now sitting in garrisons in Germany or France or UK waiting for a million Russians to come across the border. Europe needs to get out, go forward and do some prevention."

Wald thinks they inevitably will. "Everybody's going to come to the same conclusion at some point. Some will get there faster than others."


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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