U.S. military presence in Africa growing in small ways

U.S. military presence in Africa growing in small ways

WASHINGTON — Amid a surge of Islamic militancy in North Africa, a team of fewer than 50 U.S. special operations troops with a single helicopter arrived at a remote base in western Tunisia last month. Their mission: train Tunisian troops in counter-terrorism tactics. The operation was one of dozens of U.S. military deployments in Africa over the last year, often to tiny and temporary outposts. The goal is to leverage American military expertise against an arc of growing instability in North Africa and many sub-Saharan countries, from Mali in the west to Somalia in the east. The small-scale operations by the Pentagon ‘s six-year-old Africa Command reflect an effort to avoid provoking anti-U.S. militants in the region — and wariness of getting drawn into new conflicts after 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. commanders for Africa face tight limits on the forces and equipment they can put on the ground or in the air, despite responsibility for a vast geographic area. Classified guidance approved by the White House last fall called for the Pentagon to “deter” terrorist attacks from Africa on U.S. territory, facilities or allies without creating a large military footprint, according to officials who […]

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