In the weeks leading up to Chuck Hagel’s nomination, the Pentagon announced plans to put specialised Army troops in 35 countries in Africa.Though the announcement came on Christmas Eve and didn’t receive much attention, it still serves as a hint of what’s to come under a Hagel-run Pentagon — that is, conservative deployment of U.S. troops.
The mission for these troops is loosely noncombat, and primarily to train organic security forces to quell Islamic insurgent activity, which somewhat parallels operations during the Banana Wars of about a century ago.
During those “small-wars” conflicts in the late 1800s and early 1900s, American Marines deployed to several South American countries in limited numbers. Their mission was first to interdict fractious groups of ‘insurgents,’ not unlike those which operate in Africa, and second to leave in place a trained body of security forces and a competent governance — both compliant with American interests and capable of pacifying the populace.
Analysts could look at burgeoning Africa the strategy as countering growing Chinese development influence — though it could also serve to protect Chinese development interest as the U.S. has done in Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, the deployments, under the newly formed AFRICOM, fit nicely inside the frame of Obama’s two recent nominations — that of drone warfare king John Brennan, and foreign policy conservative Chuck Hagel.
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