sa98ban.gif (32700 bytes)

CHAPTER EIGHT

Sub-Saharan Africa

The United States views Africa today as a marginal security problem. No state or combination of states in Africa poses current or foreseeable threats to its key interests. Nor, with the end of the Cold War, is there a need to build coalitions against unfriendly external actors. Africa is of limited strategic importance to the United States. However the region's turbulence and recurrent crises, which have produced horrific violence and abuse of the local populace, demand frequent, costly external intervention. A sustained strategy for helping Africa cope with problems of conflict and underdevelopment is sorely needed to enable the continent to pull itself out of the misery and poverty besetting many of its countries. Action is needed there to continue to curb international terrorism and the growth of international trafficking in narcotics, but whether the international community has the political will, or willingness, to commit resources and mount serious efforts to attain such objectives in Africa is not clear.

U.S. Interests

During the Cold War, U.S. strategic interests in Africa were linked to pressures outside the continent, from the Soviet Union and the Middle East. The collapse of the Soviet Union eliminated concern over Soviet incursions (especially in central and southern Africa) and reduced the need for active measures to protect sea lines of communication in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the shift to satellite communications has eliminated the need for communications posts in north and east Africa; and since the Gulf War, new agreements with Saudi Arabia and other states have moved the forward positions protecting Middle Eastern oil fields from east Africa into the Middle East itself. The absence today of major strategic threats or requirements offers an opportunity to focus on the true issues in Africa: basic survival, food security, peace, quality of life, and economic growth. The absence of vital interests does not in any way reduce the importance of historical, economic, social, and humanitarian interests in the African subcontinent.

Cementing Core Values

The main U.S. interest is to help Africa build stable, prosperous democracies that generally follow Western political and economic models and that will be open to and be major participants in international trade and investment. Attaining this general objective would enable the United States--and core partners--to meet their own national and commercial goals of expanded trade and investment, which include access to Africa's tremendous natural resources, in particular, minerals and oil. To focus on helping Africa accelerate its development, the United States would first need to address problems of security and stability, starting with the destabilizing activities of rogue states in Africa.

Containing Rogue States

Africa has had more than its share of rogue states, but the troublemakers have generally not posed serious, direct threats to U.S. security. Libya has been an exception, with its combination of support for terrorism, chemical weapons program, and military interference in neighboring states, but as those activities have diminished in recent years, the threat has dissipated. At present, continuing support of terrorist organizations and activities by the Sudan regime and the spread of international trafficking in narcotics through the ineptitude or connivance of the Nigerian regime constitute the only threats to U.S. security. More generally, the fundamental and enduring interest of the United States lies in containing rogues so they will not frustrate the progress of neighboring states attempting to pursue policies more in line with those of the core.

Keeping Transition States on the Right Path

Transition states need support to make sure they get on (or stay on) the right path. They need firm, detailed, and consistent attention by the international community working in concert to minimize unhelpful deviation and to prevent the emergence of new failed states, which would only destabilize their regional neighbors.

Removing the Causes of Failure

Immediate, mid-, and long-term efforts to promote stability and security on the African continent are needed to end the endemic violence that frustrates development, creates conditions ripe for humanitarian disaster, and sometimes leads to new failed states. Conflict, planned and spontaneous, is the main enemy of political, social, and economic progress and remains widespread in Africa. Africans acknowledge this and want to put an end to it, yet there is no end in sight. Indeed, for many African states, achieving security and stability remains the top policy concern, taking precedence over all other objectives. The region desperately needs international assistance in this effort.

It is in the U.S. interest to address the root causes of failed states and humanitarian crises in Africa for several reasons. The American public is concerned that the people of Africa are poorly served, which increases public pressure on DoD to intervene. Such intervention after a crisis is more expensive--in terms of dollars, political capital, and human life--than averting one in the first place.

 Evacuees from Liberia in Sierra Leone

Current Trends

No Decisive Socio-Economic or Political Trends

Africa today is in a state of high ferment. Strategic, political, economic, and humanitarian trends across the continent vary; more crises, more explosions and implosions, and yet new opportunities will undoubtedly occur as events cascade in unpredictable and sometimes breathtaking ways. For now, although there are promising signs, it is too early to claim that Africa is firmly and finally embracing Western core values and institutions. In some countries, the promotion of democratic practices and economic reform leading to new growth are apparent; in others, democracy and economic reform lag. As yet, there are no decisive political and economic trends across the continent.

Tottering Rogue States

One of the major regional rogues in Africa, Mobutu's Zaire, was overthrown during 1997, and there is hope that the new regime can turn the new Democratic Republic of Congo onto a proper path as a transition state. Nigeria, with its antidemocratic practices, human rights abuses, and economy in collapse from corruption and mismanagement, is still a potential rogue, but the presidential election and return to civilian government planned to occur in 1998 may put it on the path to democracy and economic recovery. Sudan is the third major regional problem, and it arguably already has fallen into the category of rogue, owing to internal abuses, continuing support for terrorist groups, links to other rogues, and interference in the affairs of most of its neighbors. Containment of Sudan and encouragement of eventual installation of a responsible regime that would correct the abuses remain high priorities for the United States. Sudan's economic difficulties and recent military reversals in the south at the hands of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army indicate the possibility of a change in regime for the better in the near future.

Most Transition States on the Right Path

South Africa is both a state in transition and the pivotal state in southern Africa. The generally peaceful transition to a post-apartheid era has been encouraging, and a relatively smooth transition to a post-Mandela era is expected, in spite of concerns about possible rifts in the civil service and security services. The economy remains in the doldrums, with lagging foreign investment, making it difficult for the government to deliver on promises to expand social services to the disadvantaged sectors of society. The issue of the economy could prove explosive in the next national elections. Crime, particularly domestic and international narcotics trafficking, has grown to threatening levels. In general, however, South Africa remains a major success story. If it can raise its growth rate a bit, it could play its anticipated role as economic anchor for the entire subregion.

Other important transition states in Africa are Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Liberia, and Rwanda. With the possible exception of the Democratic Republic of Congo, all these states appear to be moving away from war and economic collapse toward peace and development, although only Mozambique's transition is far enough along to seem relatively secure. Kenya may soon be added to the list, if its regime fully accepts the need to liberalize and democratize rather than pushing the country further into civil disorder, even conflict. Thus, on balance, most of Africa's states and societies in transition warrant a cautious optimism.

External Influence Declining

Some failed states in Africa--Somalia, Sudan, and possibly Sierra Leone if the current Nigerian-led intervention to oust the junta and restore democratic leadership falters--are still in decline and threaten to persist as regional rogues. Suffering in these cases has been great, from such basic humanitarian disasters as starvation and genocide to civil disasters such as harsh political repression and the imposition of martial law by failing regimes. Elsewhere in Africa, even though many nations wracked by violence seem to be emerging from crisis and getting onto the right track (e.g., Liberia and Rwanda), the long-term requirements for continuing international technical and financial assistance are substantial. The international community, however, exhausted by long and expensive efforts to deal with these regional crises, seems to have developed a severe case of compassion and donor fatigue that threatens to undermine essential efforts to support reconciliation and reconstruction in Africa.

In the face of continuing turmoil there, a tendency has developed for external actors--the United States included--to disengage from Africa's crises and yield the initiative to African actors. The United Nations has been reluctant to launch new UN operations, as is the United States to offer troops for African interventions. Even France has announced a new policy to reduce its security forces in Africa and to stop intervening to resolve political and security crises of its client states. Since the 1980s, funds for military assistance have nearly dried up, and funding for developmental assistance has fallen very sharply. Increasingly, external actors are encouraging African states to create enabling political-economic environments to attract private investment, emphasizing that private capital will need to replace the substantial official aid flows of the past.

C­141B taking off from Brazzaville, Congo

Africans Addressing Their Own Problems

The hesitation of the international community to deepen its engagement in Africa defies the reality of turmoil and humanitarian disasters expected to persist in various forms across the continent. In some cases the disasters are natural, such as subregional drought. In most cases, however, the cause is human violence, and no downward turn in the scale of that violence is in sight. Throughout the 1990s, Africa has been plagued with 20 or more violent conflicts per year, many with the potential to drag down political institutions of states affected and sink their economies. As mentioned, the most serious problems are those of the subregional giants, Nigeria, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose fortunes--for good or ill--will profoundly affect developments throughout those subregions.

Lessening tangible international support and growing disagreement on many policy issues have led more and more African states--including those giants, Nigeria, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo--to ignore Western advice and suggestions for dealing with their political and security crises, whether advice is advanced through official channels or humanitarian and NGO channels. Focused violence has newly emerged as a tool to end abuse, anarchy, and tyranny. A new coalition of hard-eyed proto-democrats, having brought substantial stability by force of arms to Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, and Angola, are eyeing tyrannical, chaotic, or meddlesome neighbors for possible corrective action. This aggressive tendency by new regional power brokers--already manifested in bringing the Congo (Brazzaville) civil war to an abrupt end--has left the West divided and in confusion regarding policy.

Night operations, Somalia

Emerging Mechanisms to Deal with Disasters

The international community--sometimes taking the lead, sometimes supporting African efforts--has begun to develop coping mechanisms to identify, head off, or minimize the effects of recurrent crises and disasters. Considerable progress has been made in developing effective early-warning systems to predict and help prepare for natural disasters, particularly famine from drought. Most notable has been the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Famine Early Warning System (FEWS), which collects data from 16 African countries considered susceptible to famine as well as from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Meteosat satellite, which orbits over Africa. Combining the collected meteorological, agricultural, and market data, FEWS publishes a monthly report updating the food security situation in vulnerable populations; that information is then used to devise appropriate responses for heading off or dealing with crises.

A number of African states are beginning to build an indigenous capacity to deal with humanitarian and other crises, to avoid the need to rely on external forces. In 1991, a summit of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) acknowledged in its final communique that "there is a link between security, stability, development and cooperation in Africa." Leaders at the summit recognized that the problems of security and stability in many African countries had impaired their capacity to achieve the necessary cooperation to support regional integration and long-term socioeconomic development. Shortly after, OAU launched a program to encourage the prevention and resolution of conflicts. The program has dispatched monitors and observers to Burundi, Somalia, Liberia, Comoros, and has set up a Conflict Resolution Center within OAU headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Several African subregional organizations have taken on the task of planning and coordinating security matters. The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) is by far the most advanced in capabilities, and in 1996 it established the SADC Political, Defense, and Security Organ to consult about and monitor crisis situations. In summer 1997, forces from SADC countries conducted a major training exercise--Blue Hungwe--in Zimbabwe, with technical assistance from a team of British military advisors. The lead has been taken, however, by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which in 1990 authorized the creation and dispatch of a sizable all-African force, ECOMOG, to Liberia, where it has stayed. Although dominated by Nigeria, and limited in mission mainly to keeping the warlords out of Monrovia and some other coastal cities, it contributed to the stabilization of the situation and the conduct of the recent elections, won by Charles Taylor. In east Africa, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is seeking to mediate a peace agreement in Sudan, an on-again, off-again process. In each instance, the security function of this subregional organization was grafted onto an organization and charter that originally had a narrower politico-economic focus--a tendency that may be considered both a conceptual and political breakthrough for Africa.

Shaping the Strategic Environment

The Goals

The main U.S. goals in Africa include ending violence (wars, genocide, human rights abuses), promoting stability and security (robust democracy, trade partnership), and averting the need for costly humanitarian interventions. A serious attempt to shape the environment in Africa to these ends would require the kind of total and massive U.S. Government initiative which has not been seen since the 1960s. Public and legislative support for such a comprehensive, multi-agency program probably is not attainable, but a more modest effort, imaginatively and actively pursued, may be possible. Specific goals include:

Resources

Available forces

The United States has no forces--troops, ships, or aircraft--stationed in Africa. Its only ground presence there consists of about 200 Marine guards at U.S. embassies, and fewer than 100 defense attaché, security assistance, and other technical personnel. Only two small aircraft are stationed in sub-Saharan Africa to support DoD activities. Yet the United States has repeatedly shown it can deploy forces to Africa quickly when needed, usually to conduct a noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO) but also for humanitarian or peacekeeping tasks. Except for Somalia, such deployments have generally been small and brief.

Africans are well aware of--perhaps even exaggerate--the strength and reach of Washington's military forces. Although the main components of U.S. military power (power projection, lethal firepower, robust forces) have marginal day-to-day relevance, the reality of U.S. power offers a check on the behavior of rogues or would-be rogues. Recently, Washington's obvious and growing reluctance to make peace in Liberia, Somalia, and Rwanda has seriously eroded the credibility and thus the effectiveness of such a check. For actual and potential friends and allies, the important question is, why is the United States unwilling to use its assets to be more helpful on the continent? African militaries are well disposed to benefit from professional collaboration with the United States and can appreciate advanced information technology and joint doctrine. As a model defense establishment, the United States is highly valued, and, when offered, its advice, training, and assistance are usually well received. But Africans are puzzled and, in some cases, resentful that when an African crisis looms, the United States is increasingly a source of diplomatic advice but only rarely a source of military assistance.

Two components of force structure are of particular importance and assure that Africa remains of interest while also providing a considerable cadre of well-informed Africa specialists: U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and 3d Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg. EUCOM has become an invaluable intellectual locus for the development and conduct of the DoD program of military activities in Africa. The special forces make available a standing, quick-reaction force with training and advisory as well as extensive operational experience on the ground in Africa. When operational deployments are required, however, the usual response force is made up of U.S. Marines from the Mediterranean or the Persian Gulf, depending on the location of the crisis. Special operations personnel also are frequently involved, although not necessarily from 3d Group. For humanitarian missions, different forces or specialized units are required, which usually deploy from the United States, with necessarily much longer timelines.

The U.S. force structure to pursue national objectives in Africa is generally adequate for peacetime activities and more than adequate for any war or combat operations--although a serious lack of defense attaché presence on the ground must be noted as a persistent and troubling gap in recent years. As in other troubled parts of the world, operational tempo at times makes mustering the technical personnel and units (psychological operations, civil affairs, engineers, military police) difficult, not because of a shortage--quantitative or qualitative--of forces, but because of the political will needed to commit them and the financial support needed to cover the costs of such international operations.

Programmatic resources

The United States has diverse but often austere resources to work with in Africa. Most peacetime activities needed to address the root causes of Africa's insecurity are civil, primarily foreign aid and international financial assistance. But the level of grants and loans for traditional foreign aid is declining, and many overseas USAID offices have been closed or merged into regional offices. The bulk of remaining aid resources tends to be drained off into emergency and humanitarian assistance, with only small amounts available for developmental projects. Some funding is available for special activities in counter-terrorism and counternarcotics, but it has been used sparingly. Policymakers and aid specialists seem to hope that the private sector will pick up the slack, and major efforts have been made to convince both Africans and corporate interests that the role of trade and investment should be greatly expanded in Africa, even as official development resources disappear. Skepticism about the limits of this approach has often been voiced.

DoD, for its part, has units, programs, and activities that pursue its goals in Africa. These might be characterized as high quality and low capacity, because of either an absolute limit in capability or in the amount that can be directed toward African affairs. For policymakers and planners, assets of note include:

Operation Restore Hope, Somalia

Strategic Approaches

International community

To succeed in Africa, a challenge for the United States is to work closely with its core allies (mainly European) and with the United Nations. Close coordination with the ex-colonial powers--with which many African states have important and intimate ties--is particularly essential. For DoD, there is a specific need to draw on the doctrine and efforts of the United Kingdom, France, Scandinavia, and others in the common task of helping African states build their capacities to engage in humanitarian and peacekeeping interventions. Without such international cooperation and coordination, developing either a coherent approach or sufficient resources--monetary or political--for Africa is unlikely. The development and continuation of broad political and public support for Third-World initiatives are both heavily influenced by the perception that responsibilities are in fact shared within the international community. Such close coordination would also require focusing U.S. efforts, possibly through an interagency oversight mechanism. This would reduce redundancy, increase efficiency, and provide policy cohesion on which international policy coordination could be based.

Long-term multiorganizational approach

Africa's problems require complex, long-term approaches. Many essential activities will remain strictly in the civilian domain, including active preventive diplomacy, the development of civil society, and advice and assistance (as well as pressure, if necessary) to achieve political and economic reforms. A key aspect of this strategy would be to provide strong links with the United States and other members of the international community to Africa's political, military, economic, and civil society. Such activities would require a substantial, long-term commitment of both resources and leadership. Given the complex, multiorganizational (including public and private sectors) nature of the effort, new forms of coordination, information exchange, and orchestration would be needed.

Focus on major powers

The United States cannot pursue a coherent policy that will give equal practical weight to the fortunes of each of the 48 sub-Saharan African states; instead, it will need to focus on key states and regional powers. These are not identical, and unfortunately, most of the major continental powers are not in a position to serve as subregional leaders. Although there are many examples of encouraging progress in the smaller countries, only one of the major regional powers--South Africa--is on the right track. Several others--especially Nigeria, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Africa's most populous, largest, and most mineral-rich countries, respectively)--are more correctly categorized as rogues than leaders, and all are spectacular failures. Further, instead of being able to work with these subregional powers, the United States has either opted for confrontation (Nigeria, Sudan) or initially chosen to remain aloof (the Democratic Republic of Congo). Consequently, it has had to look for other possible regional leaders and of necessity seems to favor Ethiopia for east Africa and perhaps Ghana or Côte d'Ivoire in west Africa. No suitable substitute for the Democratic Republic of Congo exists in Central Africa, although Uganda may prove a candidate because of its current political stability and strong economic growth; however, Uganda remains on the fringe of the area, focused more on relations with eastern rather than central Africa.

In dealing with Africa's successful regional leaders, the fundamental interests for the United States are to solidify gains and prevent backsliding. These nations have achieved relative political and economic stability, providing models for other African countries, and have the potential to become both catalysts for regional growth and helpful allies of the United States on the continent. Washington's announced desire to develop Africa as a major market for U.S. goods will tend to be implemented first in the larger or stronger and more stable states.

Loading supplies at Accra Airport, Ghana

In the 1990s, U.S. political involvement with South Africa has been substantial, and special initiatives taken will expand the role of the American private sector. Although military engagement has been slow to develop, recent important developments have tended to draw the two armed forces closer, including the July 1997 establishment of a Defense Committee to the Binational Commission chaired by Vice President Gore and South Africa's Deputy President Mbeki. Washington has made it clear that it has a substantial interest and will invest heavily in promoting South Africa's long-term development. For the other major powers that may become positive regional leaders, U.S. interests are more immediate and starker. Specifically, these include creating "soft landings" for Sudan and Nigeria as they struggle to promote democratic and representative government, and supporting a successful transition in the troubled Democratic Republic of Congo. For the moment, however, the U.S. approach is necessarily focused more on trying to shape the behavior of rogues and potential adversaries.

Curb potential adversaries and rogues

Setting aside the special, continuing problem of Libya, Africa's rogues are all sub-Saharan: Sudan, Nigeria, and the just-ousted junta of Sierra Leone. Although several other states are in or near collapse or even failure (Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Burundi), only these three rogues have been in open defiance of the international community as they continue their various depredations on their own citizenry. In Sudan, the problem takes on immediacy for the United States because of the regime's continuing support for international terrorism. Nigeria is an urgent case because of its extraordinary involvement in international narcotics trafficking, both directly and through intermediaries (including South Africa), which may thus become more deeply and dangerously involved.

So far, the international policy approach--consisting mainly of diplomatic dialogue and the threat or actuality of limited sanctions (limitations on issuance of visas, restricted military relations, air travel restrictions, some financial restrictions)--has not proved successful in changing either the thinking or behavior of any of the rogue regimes. Sudan is now faced with an increase in U.S. security assistance to several of its neighbors, which are involved in border conflicts and providing support to the Sudanese People's Liberation Army fighting against the Sudanese regime. At the time of this writing, the rogue regime of Sierra Leone has just been ousted and the elected President reinstalled by a dramatic military intervention led by Nigeria--a fresh reminder that occasionally military force will be required when diplomacy and sanctions fall short. Whether the positive effects of this intervention will persist despite continuing resistance by junta forces, and whether the Nigerian action will improve its standing with the broader international community, remain to be seen. In any case, actions against Nigeria have been mild, such as suspension from the Commonwealth. Given Nigeria's power and influence, the international community is not likely to increase pressure for substantial change.

The international community thus faces a crisis of self-confidence and credibility in attempting to deal with Africa's relatively few but dangerous rogues. Tough talk and weak sanctions have not succeeded and perhaps have only heightened defiance. Political support for either harsh sanctions (such as an oil embargo and a total freeze on investment and commerce) or military interventions is unlikely--even against a regime as weak as Sierra Leone. With official aid resources in decline, there is little prospect of substantial positive incentives to offer. This leaves diplomacy with neither carrot nor stick, a formula for continuing frustration and possibly failure. Clearly, new thinking is needed, as well as approaches carefully designed for each unique situation. Also clear is that U.S. military muscle has no immediate relevance to these problems, although the possibility that a provoked United States might take some limited military action puts some bounds on state behavior; this is probably most important in the case of Sudan.

U.S. and Belgian medics, Brazzaville, Congo

Avert crises and conflicts

Crisis and conflict will probably remain pervasive in Africa for years to come. Immediate, short-term efforts to try to avert, minimize, or terminate these disruptive affairs are needed. Some helpful mechanisms are emerging, addressing natural disasters (particularly famine) and providing early warning in order to plan emergency humanitarian relief efforts. Other mechanisms (especially at the OAU) address manmade crises, including early warning and plans for action.

The main problem in Africa is the huge discrepancy between required and actual African capabilities to confront crises. For necessary humanitarian activities, the international community can still be counted on generally to provide the essential response (food, medicine, transport, technicians). But when mass violence is present, recent events raise doubts about the willingness of this community either to intervene early and decisively or to stay the course when violence strikes at peacekeepers and humanitarian operations. A partial answer would be to help build and improve African competence and capacity for dealing with such violence. This is particularly necessary for conflict resolution and peacekeeping: although basic technical capacity needs to be built at the state level, organizational and political capacity for crisis management needs to be established at the levels of the United Nations, the OAU, and the subregion. The tendency is growing within the international community to view and treat African disasters as African problems that should be left to Africans for solution, despite occasional expressions of moral outrage at, for example, genocide in Rwanda. Africans therefore need to be assured that measures aimed at capacity building are not inspired mainly by a desire for international disengagement.

The African Crisis Response Initiative

In 1996, the United States proposed this initiative, to build capacity, through military training at the battalion level, for peacekeeping operations under Chapter VI of the UN Charter. Six countries (Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Ethiopia, Senegal, and Uganda) have so far agreed to participate, and training by 3d Special Forces Group has been completed in Senegal, Uganda, and Malawi. Accompanying the training, limited amounts of equipment are donated, primarily communications gear, so that future deployed forces will be able to communicate horizontally and vertically across the force. In due course, preparations may be made to identify the components of a force brigade headquarters with all its specialized supporting units and staff sections. Or, owing to bureaucratic and political sensitivities, this task may be left to other organizations or initiatives, or to the Africans to do for themselves. The hard questions will come still later: when, for what purpose, with what mission, for how long, and by whose authority (and funding) would the force, with its component battalions, actually be deployed?

DoD Contributions

Threatened and occasional use of force

Coping with Africa's disorder and stagnation will usually be attempted through active diplomacy and assistance for long-term development, but from time to time, sanctions and at least the credible threat of force will be required. In that sense, DoD must always be alert to events in Africa, for it is here that U.S. forces are most often deployed operationally, albeit generally on a small scale. The likely missions include NEOs, supporting or leading humanitarian or peacekeeping missions, and shows of force against a (temporarily) hostile African power.

Such activities are unusual. The use of force is quite common in Africa and is likely to remain so over the next decade. Certainly, most of the rogues and trouble-makers of Africa have shown little tendency to submit to anything except the use, or credible and immediate threat, of force. The source of that force has changed in the 1990s, and for the near future it is likely to be Africans themselves using force, rather than accepting the settlement of disputes through the intervention of French, American, mixed, or even UN forces. In any case, whether the force is African or external, the U.S. military will sometimes have a key role on behalf of the Nation.

Beyond careful observation and analysis and planning and directing occasional operational deployments, sometimes eventuating in the use of force, DoD can affect the military environment in Africa mainly by focusing on building capacity and shaping regional security forces and institutions.

U.S. trainer in Uganda

Building local capabilities

The elements needed by Africans to build and support their capabilities range from supporting specific peacekeeping and peacemaking operations at all levels to building conflict-resolution capabilities. These capabilities can be found primarily at the level of the OAU and several subregional organizations and include initiatives to build technical and managerial skills and unit and staff capacity. Two specific U.S. initiatives, listed below, are of interest for what they have already accomplished or targeted and for the models they offer for future initiatives:

Such initiatives must be strongly encouraged. Funded only modestly up to now, they could well serve as the basis for expanded programs in the future. Helping Africans to prepare to help themselves, then helping them fund and execute specific missions, should be a central component of a new U.S. approach to Africa in the late 1990s and beyond. The African Crisis Response Initiative would not be merely a matter of building military capacity but, more important, of enhancing confidence on the part of the Africans that they have both the tools and techniques to handle most of their problems. This point, it should be emphasized, does not represent a desire in the West to disengage and leave the Africans to their own devices. Rather, emphasis would fall on the mutuality of responsibility and the cohesiveness that a common approach, with common doctrine, will lend to future combined operations.

U.S. forces in Somalia

Shaping institutions and promoting reform

A broader but perhaps more critical objective, for which DoD has the lead, is to encourage and shape African security institutions to embrace Western concepts of military professionalism and the role of the military in a democratic society. To a large extent, the effectiveness of shaping African military institutions is not possible to measure. In contrast, one of the most effective techniques may be one-on-one, military-to-military contact, in which Africans can observe and experience the commitment of U.S. military personnel of all ranks to professionalization, democratic practices, and respect for human rights. This kind of contact involves participation in combined exercises or operations (including peacekeeping), observing U.S. forces in operations or exercises, and exchange programs (including these between military educational institutions).

Training, whether under IMET, E­IMET, or as part of exercises with Special Forces teams deployed to Africa, is another powerful tool, but one with a cumulative impact that needs time to mature. Because it emphasizes professionalization and values, E­IMET should be particularly effective over time, especially for reaching senior ranks, and should promote such aspects as civilian control of the military, the military as guarantor of the constitution, respect for democratic processes and for the rule of law, preservation of human rights, and removal of the military from a country's economic life.

These programs are intended to encourage defense reform measures, to improve the behavior of the military toward the populace, and to curb irregular and corrupt financial practices endemic to both civil and military sectors. If the proposed African Center for Security Studies comes to fruition, it will underscore all these efforts, because it will be dedicated to and focused on professionalization and on principles governing military conduct in a modern democracy, and it will be available to serve the most senior levels of Africa's military institutions.

Given the low cost and long-term potential impact of these programs, all deserve to be supported energetically and imaginatively for the foreseeable future. Realistically, however, great changes should not be expected in the near term, because changes in attitude and behavior, which often may go against ingrained earlier training and experience, may therefore be profoundly countercultural. The difficulties inherited and now experienced by the new government of the Democratic Republic of Congo offer a poignant case in point.

Conclusion

Africa provides a difficult but not at all hopeless case. Positive as well as troublesome forces are at work. The need now is for the international community to face Africa's problems squarely and, working in concert with emerging regional leaders, to develop and pursue sound, long-term approaches. Washington's main interests in Africa are not great, but attaining them would have substantial political and economic benefits, be consistent with humanitarian values, and eliminate the need for frequent wasteful and often bloody interventions.

Given a sustained commitment, and using programmatic and force structure elements already in place, DoD could play a leading role in a national effort to help Africa achieve stability and security and, given such stability and security, to implement sustained development. The U.S. military could also play an important role in encouraging Africa's critical security institutions to assist and support the emergence and preservation of an environment in which democracy and human rights are broadly and sincerely observed.

With such achievements, within another generation Africa could be a far more peaceful and productive continent. Absent that level of stability, the typical DoD mission in Africa would in all probability be the evacuation of noncombatants during a crisis.

| Return to Contents | Return to Top | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter |