Small Wars Journal

U.S. Special Ops General Sees Decades-Long Struggle in Africa

U.S. Special Ops General Sees Decades-Long Struggle in Africa by John Vandiver - Stars & Stripes

The U.S. military faces a two-decade struggle to help bring stability to Africa, where the lack of an overall government strategy is complicating operations, according to the general in charge of special operations on the continent.

“(T)here are too many conflicting perspectives when it comes to what the (U.S. government) policy should be for Africa,” U.S. Special Operations Command Africa’s Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc said in a recent article. “The problems in Africa defy solution within a single fiscal year, or the two- to four-year tour of a Geographic Combatant Command commander.”

Bolduc, writing in the Sunday issue of the online Small Wars Journal in an essay titled “The Gray Zone in Africa,” said it will take “at least a generation for a policy to become effective.”

The challenges facing the U.S. include weak central governments in Somalia and Libya, where extremists groups have sought to take advantage of the instability. Those threats amount to “gray zones,” military parlance for areas of military operation that fall short of open war for American forces.

Chaos in Libya, brought on when NATO helped overthrow dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 but failed to help stabilize the country, has caused a large migrant flow to Europe. That development has divided governments inside the European Union, America’s top trading partner. Yet the U.S. lacks a clear strategy for confronting threats emanating from Africa’s north, which now affect Europe, Bulduc said.

Adding to the challenges is the growing presence of China and Russia, which have sought to exert more influence. Beijing is poised to open its first overseas military base in Djibouti, a small but strategic country that borders Somalia and hosts U.S. forces. Russia has met with Libyan officials and has reportedly deployed small numbers special operations to North Africa in a sign of growing interest…

Read on.