Obama announces $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund for African Sahel & South Asia

Twice this week, the U.S. military in Africa has been on the NYTimes frontpage. The most recent headline is “U.S. Troops to Leave Afghanistan by End of 2016,” (By Mark Landler (2014-05-27) and is followed by the sub-head “Focus to shift to Terror Threats Elsewhere.” It became clearer this week that Africa probably is the main “elsewhere.”

President Obama, Commander in Chief at West Point Commencement

President Obama, Commander in Chief at West Point Commencement

On Wednesday, during his commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, President Obama told the graduates that “American isolationism is not an option” but cautioned that a “willingness to rush into military adventures” since the 9/11 terror attacks had produced “some of our most costly mistakes.”

At the same time, Obama noted that the withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan would free up resources to confront an “emerging terrorist threat stretching from the Middle East to Africa.”

Simultaneously, Obama called on Congress to support a new $5 billionCounterterrorism Partnerships Fund” to respond to evolving terrorist threats…” from South Asia to the Sahel…” The White House said the program “will provide the flexibility and resources required to respond to emerging needs as terrorist threats around the world continue to evolve” and to pay for “expanded or enhanced Defense Department efforts, including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and Special Operations activities.” At the same time, according to senior congressional aides, Obama announced plans to expand the use of the war-related Overseas Contingency Operations Fund further beyond the scope of Afghanistan to help battle terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa, including, specifically, “…to help the U.S. train security forces in Yemen, support anti-terrorism forces in Somalia, work with France and other European allies to patrol the Libyan borders, aid the French in military operations in Mali, and other objectives.”

This proposed new anti-terrorism program emerges as the full extent of growing U.S. engagement in Africa and the expansion of AFRICOM has become more clear (See our previous post.)

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