US President George W. Bush has approved plans to create a US military command for Africa, which is expected to be completed before late September 2008. A new US African Command headquarters, to be known as AFRICOM, will reportedly be first based in Stuttgart, Germany before moving to Africa. AFRICOM will be held accountable for coordinating all military operations of the US forces in Africa, a Pentagon official said, noting that it would foil or stem activities of terrorists and the proliferation of terrorist networks in Africa.
Superficially, the establishment of the US African Command derives from the needs of the global war on terror. The American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were assaulted by terrorist organizations in 1998. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, the United States took the African continent as a breeding ground, an asylum and even a training ground for terrorists, and gradually beefed up its intensity of combating terrorism in Africa.
The U.S. has enhanced its military infiltration in Africa in recent years, with its military aid to the continent doubling the sum of about 12 million US dollars in 2000 to 24 million dollars last year and its weaponry sale skyrocketing continuously. Moreover, it has frequently conducted joint military drills and military training with African nations, and signed agreements with some of them on logistics supply and intelligence or information cooperation. To date, it has set up a permanent base at a US barrack in Djibouti, east Africa, to man it with a troop of some 1,700 for control of the entry to the Red Sea and performing the task of collecting information for the war on terror.
The continent has been subjected to the joint jurisdiction of the US European, Pacific and Central commands before the institution of African Command. The independent AFRICOM will surely facilitate coordinating or overseeing US military actions in African for an effective control of the whole of Africa. By building a dozen forefront bases or establishments in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and other African nations, the U.S. will gradually establish a network of military bases to cover the entire continent and make essential preparations for docking an aircraft carrier fleet in the region.
The U.S. has started to place Africa on an equal footing with the Middle East, Europe and South Asia regions, some analysts acknowledged. Out of its consideration for the war on terror, it attaches great importance to oil and other strategic resources in the region. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with the U.S. at the head had once carried out a large-scale military exercise in Cape Verde, a western African island nation, with a sole purpose for control of the sea and air corridor of crude oil extracting zones and monitor how is the situation with oil pipelines operating there. At present, the U.S. hinges on Africa for 14 to 15 percent of its oil consumption, and a trend for steady increase in its African oil import is vary evident. Furthermore, it is also seeking to set up small military facilities in Senegal, Ghana and Mali, so as to facilitate its interference in the oil-rich African nations.
Meanwhile, African Command represents a vital, crucial link for the US adjustment of its global military deployment. At present, it moves the gravity of its forces in Europe eastward and opens new bases in East Europe. In East Asia, it sends additional troops to Guam in western Pacific and enhanced the combat effectiveness of its forces in Japan and South Korea for a come-back to Southeast Asia. In central Asia and Middle East, it works hard to strengthen achievements it has made in the two main battlegrounds of Afghanistan and Iraq, while going all out to coerce and intimidate Iran.
Geographically, Africa is flanked by the Eurasia, with its northern part located at the juncture of the Asia, Europe and Africa continents. The present US global military redeployment centers mainly on an "instable arc zone" from the Caucasia, central and southern Asia down to the Korean Peninsula, and so the African continent is taken as a strong point to prop up the US global strategy. Therefore, AFRICOM facilitates the United States advancing on the African continent, taking the control of the Eurasian Continent and proceeding to take the helm of the entire globe.
By People's Daily Online, and its author Lin Zhiyuan, a deputy office director of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Sciences