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The US Carried Out 674 Military Operations in Africa Last Year. Did You Hear About Any of Them?

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  • For years, the US military has publicly insisted that its efforts in Africa are negligible, intentionally leaving the American people, not to mention most Africans, in the dark about the true size, scale, and scope of its operations there.
  • Is that why they call it an American “battlefield” behind closed doors?

Nick Turse, the Nation

africom_linder_rtr_img_1.jpgBrigadier General James Linder and other military officials at the closing ceremony for a US-led international training mission for African militaries. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

April 14, 2015 | For three days, wearing a kaleidoscope of camouflage patterns, they huddled together on a military base in Florida. They came from US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and US Army Special Operations Command, from France and Norway, from Denmark, Germany, and Canada: 13 nations in all. They came to plan a years-long “Special Operations-centric” military campaign supported by conventional forces, a multinational undertaking that—if carried out—might cost hundreds of millions, maybe billions, of dollars and who knows how many lives.

Ask the men involved and they’ll talk about being mindful of “sensitivities” and “cultural differences,” about the importance of “collaboration and coordination,” about the value of a variety of viewpoints, about “perspectives” and “partnerships.” Nonetheless, behind closed doors and unbeknownst to most of the people in their own countries, let alone the countries fixed in their sights, a coterie of Western special ops planners were sketching out a possible multinational military future for a troubled region of Africa.

Nick Turse  is the managing editor of TomDispatch.com and a fellow at The Nation Institute. A 2014 Izzy Award winner, he has reported from the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa, and his pieces have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation and regularly at TomDispatch. Turse's New York Times bestseller Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam received a 2014 American Book Award.

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