Africom Security Plans & Deployments

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  1. Pathfinder

    Pathfinder Lieutenant Colonel

    Dec 17, 2015
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    Africom Campaign Plan Targets Terror Groups


    STUTTGART, Germany, January 5, 2016 — In the face of growing threats from the African continent, U.S. Africa Command has spelled out its theater campaign plan, officials said here yesterday.

    The plan is built upon the foundation of the strategy promulgated last year by Africom commander Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez, officials speaking on background told reporters traveling with Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    Yesterday, the chairman visited Africom’s headquarters at Kelly Barracks here.

    Five-Year Plan

    Officials said Africom’s campaign blueprint is a five-year plan with five lines of effort.

    The first is neutralizing the terror group al-Shabab in Somalia, officials said, and transitioning this effort from a mission led by the African Union Mission in Somalia to one in which the Somali government secures its own territory.

    The second line of effort centers around the failed state of Libya, officials said, adding that the effort focuses on containing the instability in the country.

    Officials said the third line of effort is to contain Boko Haram in West Africa.

    Fourth, officials said, Africom will focus on disrupting illicit activity in the Gulf of Guinea and in Central Africa.

    Fifth, the command looks to build African partners’ peacekeeping and disaster assistance capabilities, officials said.

    This is a large job for a small command, an Africom official said. “The only permanent location we have is Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti,” he said. “Everything else is a very light footprint.”

    The command does have cooperative security and contingency locations across the continent, officials said, noting these are essentially “cold bases” that would only be used in the event of an emergency.

    In West Africa, Dakar, Senegal, is one of the cooperative security locations and U.S. forces used it during the Ebola crisis last year, officials said.

    Officials said the bases also allow the command to protect American lives and property in the high-risk, high-threat posts. There are 15 of those posts in Africa, officials said.

    Assisting Somalia

    The theater campaign plan starts with neutralizing al-Shabab, officials said. U.S. forces have helped to train, equip and supply AMISOM forces that have played a central role in bringing stability to Somalia, officials said.

    “Al-Shabab has been pushed out of most of the major population centers and is only a power in the Juba River Valley,” an official said. However, the official added, al-Shabab “is not a spent force” and it remains a threat -- particularly in terms of targeted attacks against neighboring AMISOM contributors.

    Africom continues to monitor the al-Shabab threats to Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda in particular, officials said.

    “The emerging issue we’ve seen in al-Shabab over the past six months is the movement at the lower levels of individuals toward [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant],” an official said. “Pro-ISIL sentiment is increasing in Somalia and we’ve seen some efforts by al-Shabab leaders to strike down these efforts. Al-Shabab leaders remain firmly allied to al-Qaida.”

    ISIL ‘Brand’ Makes Gains

    Officials said this is an indication of the power of the ISIL “brand” in the extremist world. ISIL, especially after its success in Iraq and Syria, is viewed by extremists as a winning team, while al-Qaida is viewed as having waning operational capabilities. Al-Shabab has been manhandled by the AMISOM troops and the mid-level and lower extremists see ISIL as its savior, officials said.

    Core-ISIL has not accepted the al-Shabab splinters as members of the caliphate, officials said.

    “From our viewpoint, ISIL probably has very strict criteria for what groups they want to let into the fold,” the official said. “[They] want to make sure the groups coming in can sustain themselves, that they have a plan and have an ability to move.”

    The Islamic State affiliates in Libya and Boko Haram in Nigeria have been connected with the extremists in Syria and Iraq for a number of years, the officials said. Boko Haram “officially” joined the terror network last year, officials said.

    “Since then, what we’ve seen is an enhancement of Boko Haram’s propaganda and messaging efforts,” an official said. “That has been the most apparent result of the ISIL-Boko Haram ties. Their videos are more professional and tighter. They speak like an ISIL affiliate.”

    But there has not been a significant shift of resources, people or even tactics, techniques and procedures to Boko Haram, officials said. The Nigerian-based terror group “is a self-sustaining entity,” an official said.

    “We would expect that enhanced affiliation in the Horn of Africa would probably follow the same path,” the official said. “We would see improved propaganda and messaging, but not a shift of resources.”

    ISIL Gets Battered

    Terrorists in East Africa need material and resources from ISIL, but they are not going to get it, officials said. Core ISIL is hurting itself -- the Islamic State has lost Beiji and Ramadi in Iraq, it is under assault from the Kurdish peshmerga and the Syrian anti-ISIL coalition is making progress, officials said.

    The coalition oil campaign is also having an effect on ISIL’s source of wealth, officials said.

    Strengthening the AMISOM force and its capabilities will also serve to strengthen the Somalian government, officials said.

    Containing Boko Haram is another factor, officials said, noting that Africom is working with local partners -- including Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger -- to contain the terror group. French and British officials are also working with local allies and the command, the officials said.

    Challenge in Libya

    Libya is a challenge, officials said, noting “increasing bifurcation between moderates and hardliners.” The weak central government allows the space for ISIL to build a safe haven that acts as a nexus for terrorist operations in northern Libya, officials said. This has quickly become more than a simple problem within Libya, as the group has launched attacks in neighboring Tunisia, officials said. Africom has also seen some foreign fighters going into ISIL in Libya, officials said.

    Africom is looking to contain ISIL in Libya and degrade it, said officials, who estimate there are roughly 3,500 ISIL terrorists in Libya.
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  2. Pathfinder

    Pathfinder Lieutenant Colonel

    Dec 17, 2015
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    Spartan Brigade sets pace for future missions to Africa


    Lt. Col. Scott Sentell, commander of 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, addresses his squadron during a command post exercise at the Mission Training Complex on Fort Stewart, Ga., Jan. 13, 2016.

    FORT STEWART, Ga. (Jan. 13, 2016) - Brigade and battalion staffs, assigned to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, or IBCT, 3rd Infantry Division, conducted a command post exercise, or CPX, at the Mission Training Complex on Fort Stewart, Ga., Jan. 11-14.

    The purpose of the CPX is to prepare for regional accord-series exercises, annual joint peacekeeping training exercises in support of U.S. Army Africa, or USARAF, that bring together U.S. Army personnel, United Nations partner militaries and counterparts in Africa.

    "It's unique in that this is the first time that this has been done," said Maj. Joshua Teitge, brigade aviation officer and officer in charge of 2nd IBCT's regionally-aligned forces, or RAF. "It's a mini exercise teaching the brigade academics, and teaching how to train and mentor partner nations."

    Staff members from the brigade and its subordinate battalions attended the training, which was developed by the brigade. Regional accord planners, civil affairs Soldiers, and members of USARAF were also present to mentor and participate in the exercise.

    "It's all the subject matter experts for this, in one location, to build relationships and pass on knowledge," Teitge said.

    Cpt. Scott Saunders, who performs scenario development and management for USARAF, said that several aspects of what 2nd IBCT, or Spartan Brigade, did in this exercise will become a template for other regionally-aligned brigades.

    "They're leaning forward, trying to improve the foxhole for the next brigade," Saunders said. "I really think it was unique and of great training value."

    Teitge said that past RAF took a couple of days to "get into the groove" of the accords and that this training was designed to significantly reduce the adjustment time. One hurdle that needed to be overcome is U.S. Army Soldiers are accustomed to digital equipment to assist in many planning tasks.

    "We've stripped all the personnel of those digital systems that they're so used to and familiar with and have regressed them back to the analog systems which is what they'll use there," Teitge said.

    Teitge added that the planning process of the U.N. are different from the military decision making process used by the Army. He also said this was crucial to the mission for the staffs to adapt as military partners would already be familiar with the U.N. process.

    Saunders and Teitge both expressed happiness about what the training accomplished.

    "We're doing the right training with the right people early enough out that they can focus their professional development," Saunders said.

    "It's bringing together diverse groups of people and getting them all on the same sheet of music," Teitge said. "It's a very unique situation that Soldiers are learning from and that makes them more diverse."

    Spartan Brigade is active in its role as the regionally-aligned force for USARAF and is preparing to extend the brigade's support of partner nations further in the coming months.
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