Saturday, 5 July 2014

U.S. needs better intelligence cooperation with African states for effective counterterrorism strategy

The U.S. focus on counterterrorism efforts in Africa will require forming long-term partnerships with nations, an all-hands-on-deck commitment from all U.S. military branches, and a strong investment in intelligence, and surveillance technologies to face significant challenges created by the continent’s size and scope. Forming intelligence partnerships with Africa’s fifty-four countries, all with their own civil and military traditions, mixed with multiple languages and cultures is complex.

The U.S. focus on counterterrorism efforts in Africa will require forming long-term partnerships with nations, an all-hands-on-deck commitment from all U.S. military branches, and a strong investment in intelligence, and surveillance technologies to face significant challenges created by the continent’s size and scope.

President Barack Obama recently proposed a $5 billion counterterrorism fund, largely focused on north and west Africa. “As we move to a train-and-advise mission in Afghanistan, our reduced presence allows us to more effectively address emerging threats in the Middle East and North Africa,” Obama said in a 27 May speech. Congress showed its support for pouring more resources into the continent when the Senate Armed Services Committee markup of the fiscal 2015 authorization bill added$60 million for additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) in Africa.

Military analysts warn that achieving success in disrupting terror networks in Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, and the Central African Republic will require greater sharing of information and intelligence assets in the region. In an interview with Defense News, Brig. Gen. John Linder, the head of the U.S. Army’s Africa Special Operations Command, said that “Africa is not about maneuver warfare and it’s not about seizing terrain, it’s about sharing our lessons learned with partner nations and their forces so they can solve their own problems.”

Forming intelligence partnerships with Africa’s fifty-four countries, all with their own civil and military traditions, mixed with multiple languages and cultures is complex. Moreover, the long distances between deployed special operations units make supply and logistics further complicated.

The U.S. Air Force will likely play a major role in cross-country missions. “We’re talking about airspace that’s not highly contested,” said Mark Gunzinger, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “We’re talking about very large geographic areas that could be covered persistently by long-duration UAVs. I do think there will be a growing demand for UAVs to support missions in Africa, and we’re already seeing evidence of this.” For UAVs (drones) to operate in Africa, however, basing options must be established with partner nations.

Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa, highlighted a program that builds relationships between Air National Guard units and African nations. “Those little steps go a long way, and quite honestly, those little steps in a country that has a fledgling air force allows them to make enormous gains,” Gorenc told Defense News in February. “In Africa, there are some air forces that have some capability, but they’re in the early stages, they need to develop the human capital.” The U.S. Army National Guard also has partnerships with several African countries to perform short-term advise-and-assist and humanitarian missions.

Leveraging these existing relationships to gain better intelligence assets is key to a successful counterterrorism mission. “Special operations do bring (a history of) long-term relationships with our partners across the continent of Africa,” Linder said. “It’s certainly been proposed that Africa is the arena of conflict of tomorrow, and with that I will tell you that … special operations rarely accomplish tasks on their own, they need support from others.

Credit: Homeland Security Newswire

0 comments:

Post a comment

Site Search