The U.S. Military Is in Africa—But What Is It Doing There?

Source: In These Times

Journalist Nick Turse discusses his new book, Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa.

The United States military is a global force, with bases spanning six continents and dozens of countries. Its expansion in East Asia makes headlines and triggers protests around the world; forces fighting in countries as distant as Ukraine and Syria receive military aid; over the past several decades, it has crippled South American insurgent groups and still performs large scale training operations in Central America.

The one continent in which U.S. military action rarely receives any attention for is Africa. The U.S. maintains just one backwater base in Djibouti, Camp Lemonnier, and rarely advertises its military actions there.

Nick Turse, an award-winning journalist, looked deeper into the state of U.S. military affairs in Africa in a series of articles for, where he is an editor. These articles have been collected in a book entitled Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa. Turse spoke with In These Times recently to discuss what the U.S. military is up to in Africa.

How did you get the idea to write the book?

It had very humble beginnings. I asked the public relations people at U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, to answer a few simple questions about the scale and scope of their involvement on the continent. I asked these questions because I started seeing indications of increased U.S. operations for a couple years. But I got a public relations brush-off—prattle that didn’t match up to what it seemed to me they were actually doing in Africa.

I had seen the outlines of a very sophisticated logistics network being set up. Now you don’t build a logistics network—ferrying supplies all across the continent—unless you’re planning on sending personnel all across the continent, unless you’re planning to man outposts and bases. But when I asked about this, they talked about how light their footprint was. Because these things didn’t match up, I started digging more and more.

If they had told me anything that resembled the truth—what I was finding out through my reporting—I probably would have written one article and moved on. But because it looked like they had something to hide, I decided to dig.

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