Clinton Sprinkles US Military Aid Across Africa

Published on
by
Inter Press Service

Clinton Sprinkles US Military Aid Across Africa

Clinton Pledges Military Aid to Somalia and Other African Countries

by
Daniel Volman

WASHINGTON - On Aug. 6, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Somali President
Sheikh Sharif Ahmed in Kenya and pledged to provide more military aid and
training to the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

At a joint press conference after the meeting, Clinton said that the U.S. will
"continue to provide equipment and training to the TFG."

"Very early in the Administration, I made the decision, which the President
supported, to accelerate and provide aid to the TFG," Clinton said.

Clinton said that al-Shabaab - which is trying to overthrow the TFG - are "a
terrorist group with links to al-Qaeda and other foreign military networks"
and said that they "see Somalia as a future haven for global terrorism."
Referring to the arrest of five Australian citizens of Somali and Lebanese
descent in Australia on Aug. 4, she said "we have been reminded that there
are those who would use Somalia as a training ground for attacks around the
world."

"There is no doubt," she said, "that al-Shabaab wants to obtain control over
Somalia to use it as a base from which to influence and even infiltrate
surrounding countries and launch attacks against countries far and near."
Thus, "if al-Shabaab were to obtain a haven in Somalia, which could then
attract al-Qaeda and other terrorist actors, it would be a threat to the United
States."

At his daily press briefing on Aug. 6, U.S. Deputy State Department
Spokesman Robert Wood said, "we’re providing the Transitional Federal
Government with ammunition and weapons," and "we may decide we may try
to increase that number - that amount - at some point."

Responding to a reporter’s question about a news service story reporting the
administration planned to double the quantity of military aid to the TFG from
40 tonnes to 80 tonnes, Wood said that currently "we’re in the process of
trying to make sure that we get the 40 tonnes of equipment to the TFG.
Obviously, should we feel the need, we may indeed do that - but, I don’t
want to get ahead of where we are right now."

And in his answer to another question from the reporter about a report that
the U.S. was quietly training some Somali forces in Djibouti, Wood stated "I
don’t want to get into the actual details beyond what I’ve said about the type
of support we’re providing to Somalia. But we are obviously going to look for
ways that we can help support that government."

On Aug. 2, Associated Press reporters Mathew Lee and Lolita C. Baldor wrote
that U.S. officials told them "a second batch of up to 40 tonnes of new
weaponry, added to the 40 tonnes that arrived over the past several months,
will come from stockpiles held by African militaries. The United States would
pay for it, officials said."

Lee and Baldor also reported that U.S. officials told them that "the U.S. also
has begun a low-profile mission to help train Somali security forces in
Djibouti." According to their report, "one senior official said the Pentagon,
which has a base at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, is providing facilities such as
tents for the training and is assisting with logistics."

"Officials say the U.S. military is not conducting the training and will not put
any forces in Somalia," Lee and Baldor said. "The administration is making a
concerted effort to avoid putting any American footprint in Somalia, which
would risk alienating allies, and add to charges by Islamic extremists of a
Western takeover."

Secretary Clinton and her team are also likely to discuss increased U.S.
military aid and training with government officials in all the other countries
she is visiting on her visit to Africa.

Clinton has pledged to spend a total of 184.5 million dollars to provide
security assistance to military, paramilitary, and police forces in the coming
year to countries which are the responsibility of the new U.S. Africa
Command, or Africom. This does not include the 1.3 billion dollars security
assistance package for Egypt, which is part of Central Command’s areas of
responsibility.

In addition, the Pentagon plans to spend 300 million to run the Africom
headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, another 200 million dollars to lease and
operate the U.S. base at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti (along with unspecified
amounts of money to improve the base), and 263 million dollars to provide
manpower, airlift, and communications support to Africom operation
throughout the continent

Taken together, the Pentagon will spend at least 763 million dollars on
Africom operations in the coming fiscal year.

The State Department budget request for Fiscal Year 2010, which begins on
Oct. 1, 2009, proposes raising the level of money provided to Kenya for the
purchase of U.S. weaponry to 1 million dollars - up from 250,000 dollars in
the current fiscal year - and includes more than 1 million dollars to train
Kenyan military officers in the U.S. - up from 770,000 dollars.

Clinton also wants to spend: 800,000 dollars to pay for arms sales to South
Africa (up from nothing in the current fiscal year); 2.45 million dollars for the
Democratic Republic of Congo (up from 600,000 dollars); 1.35 million dollars
for Nigeria (the same amount as in the current fiscal year); and 9 million
dollars for Liberia (up from 1.5 million dollars).

To provide training for African military officers in the U.S. through the
International Military Education and Training programme, the State
Department plans to spend 900,000 dollars for South Africa, 500,000 dollars
for Angola, 500,000 dollars for the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1.1
million dollars for Nigeria, 525,000 dollars for Liberia, and 125,000 dollars
for Cape Verde.

The State Department plans to spend even more money on Africa in Fiscal
Year 2010 through other regional and international security assistance
programmes. These include: the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism
Partnership (20 million dollars); the East Africa Regional Strategic Initiative
(10 million dollars); the Africa Conflict Stabilisation and Border Security
programme (3.6 million dollars); the International Narcotics Control and Law
Enforcement programme (4.5 million dollars for sub-Saharan Africa); the
Anti-Terrorism Programme (8 million dollars for Kenya, 1 million dollars for
South Africa, and 15.2 million dollars for the Africa Regional programme that
can be used anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa); and the Peacekeeping
Operations programme (21 million dollars for the Democratic Republic of
Congo, 10 million dollars for Liberia, 67 million dollars for Somalia - to equip
and train troops participating in the African Union peacekeeping mission in
that country as well as Somali security forces, and 42 million dollars for
Sudan - to train and equip the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in southern
Sudan).

Although the Pentagon manages most U.S. arms and training programmes
throughout the world, the money is actually appropriated and authorised by
the U.S. Congress as part of the State Department’s Budget for Foreign
Operation.

*Daniel Volman is the Director of the African Security Research Project in
Washington, DC. He is the author of numerous articles and reports and has
been studying U.S. security policy toward Africa and African security issues
for more than thirty years.

More in: