“Elite U.S. Troops Helping Africans Combat Terror”
The New York Times, May 26, 2014, p.A1
“United States Special Operations troops are forming elite counterterrorism units in four countries in North and West Africa that American officials say are pivotal in the widening war against Al Qaeda’s affiliates and associates on the continent, even as they acknowledge the difficulties of working with weak allies. The secretive program, financed in part with millions of dollars in classified Pentagon spending and carried out by trainers, including members of the Army’s Green Berets and Delta Force, was begun last year to instruct and equip hundreds of handpicked commandos in Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali. … Under the new Africa plan, the Pentagon is spending nearly $70 million on training, intelligence-gathering equipment and other support to build a counterterrorism battalion in Niger and a similar unit in nearby Mauritania that are in their ‘formative stages,’ a senior Defense Department official said. In a cautionary note about operating in that part of Africa, troubled by a chronic shortage of resources and weak regional partners, the effort in Mali has yet to get off the ground as a new civilian government recovers from a military coup last year. In Libya, the most ambitious initial training ended ignominiously last August after a group of armed militia fighters overpowered a small Libyan guard force at a training base outside Tripoli and stole hundreds of American-supplied automatic weapons, night-vision goggles, vehicles and other equipment.”
Quickie Analysis: An interesting look at how the US is working with African governments to combat terrorism. So far at least, ambitions exceed capabilities.