As the corporate media focuses on the current war drive against the Middle Eastern nation of Syria, Washington’s militarist policies toward Africa continue to go relatively unnoticed by the public. At present oil and other strategic resources imported into the United States from the continent serve as the motivating factor behind the increase in Pentagon troops in Africa.
In 2008 the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) was formed to ostensibly provide the Pentagon with a consistent military focus on the continent. The Bush administration sought to place the headquarters of AFRICOM on the African soil but the proposal attracted such opposition that no state would openly provide its territory for the Command.
However, the administration of President Barack Obama has continued AFRICOM and enhanced its funding and operational capability. The overthrow of the government of Col. Muammar Gaddafi in Libya was coordinated by AFRICOM, representing its first full-blown operation in Africa.
In December of 2012, White House announced that it was deploying 3,500 Special Forces and military trainers to at least 35 states in Africa. A drone base was established in the uranium-rich nation of Niger and the Pentagon played a role in the French invasion of Mali by transporting troops and military equipment into the West African state.
Last month it was announced that the Pentagon’s think tank, the Office of Net Assessment (ONA), had contracted Booz Allen Hamilton to conduct a study on the future of the US in Africa from a military perspective. This is same firm that exiled intelligence analyst Edward Snowden worked for on behalf of the National Security Agency (NSA).
Booz Allen has a long track record with the ONA. In 2007, records indicate that the firm had signed a contract with the Pentagon for $45 million.
An article published by USA Today states that “The Office of Net Assessment is an internal Pentagon think tank that tries to anticipate future needs through a series of studies and war games. Created in 1973, it has been run by the same person, 92-year-old Andrew Marshall, since its beginning.”
The report goes on to point out that “Marshall, in turn, is a disciple of longtime military strategist Fritz Kraemer, a key influence on former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Vice President Dick Cheney…. While Democratic and Republican administrations come and go, ONA and its team of outside advisers remains the same.”
The reasons attributed to the contract for the study of Africa, the USA Today surmised, was related to fears about the rising influence of al-Qaeda and other so-called “terrorist” organizations in Africa. This is the same rationale provided for the escalation of AFRICOM operations and the placing of thousands of troops in various nation-states.
Yet where military operations have occurred in Africa it is mainly centered in areas where there are strategic interests related to the capitalist class in the US and other NATO countries. Libya is the largest source of oil on the continent and Niger is a vast repository of uranium.
In Somalia, where 17,500 African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) troops are propping up the Federal Government in Mogadishu, the US is financing these military operations to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year, backed up by a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) field station as well as ongoing drone strikes through outposts extending from the Horn of Africa to the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean.
Booz Allen and other firms perform much of the work of the ONA. The USA Today article notes: “Contract records show the office relies on studies from outside contractors at firms such as Booz Allen, Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) and Scitor Corp., universities and think tanks, such as the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) and the Hudson Institute.”
This article also points out that many of the ONA advisers are previous employees of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, such as Andrew Krepinevich of CSBA and numerous employees of the Hudson Institute. Other analysts, such as Stephen Cambone, the former undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, were important functionaries of the Bush administration’s Pentagon staff. Cambone is the CEO of Adirondack Advisors, a McLean, Va.-based firm which obtained a $270,000 contract from ONA in May, Virginia business records and Pentagon contract documents illustrate.
The role of corporations such as Booz Allen and others reveals the degree of corporatization of military affairs in the US. These firms have a vested interest in expanding military planning and intelligence assessments among broad segments of both US and foreign societies and governments.
Edward Snowden has been charged with espionage and theft by the US government. However, the war and intelligence crimes that Snowden and other whistleblowers such as Julian Assange of Australia and Pfc. Chelsea Manning of the Pentagon army have exposed are swept under the carpet by the corporate media and the Obama administration.
* Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of Pan-African News Wire