The following is an extract from a letter of a senior military officer who has been assigned to AFRICOM (US Africa Command) for the past several years. We are wasting our money, putting the lives of our brave troops at risk, and accomplishing nothing that is good for the US. God help our nation.
“Burundi is in a state of near civil war as it has been for some time. Somalia is a chaotic mess as it has been for some time. Ethiopia is as uncooperative as ever. Djibouti continues to play us against the Chinese. It hasn’t stopped us from opening the spigots of money to equip and train the militaries of the region, despite all evidence that suggests we don’t do this stuff well at all. Right now there are several new programs that are dumping hundreds of millions of dollars in a bid to have these Africans do the fighting that we don’t want to do for ourselves even though it’s clear that these countries don’t necessarily view our enemies (like Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, etc) as their enemies. Now you’ll hear language like “defense institution building” tossed around. The notion is to assist these countries in improving the competence and efficiency of their ministries of defense, which in turn will improve the military’s ability to manage its own affairs without our assistance. Never mind that the strongman rulers of Africa aren’t interested in having an overly competent minister of defense, as that would be just one more threat to the regime.
“I’ll leave you with one last example of how the silliness can take hold. One of the militaries in the area asked for assistance in developing their Personnel Recovery capability. PR is used for retrieving your folks who get trapped behind enemy lines as happens when, for example, an airplane gets shot down and the pilot has to bail out on the wrong side of the front. It’s a sophisticated capacity requiring specially dedicated helicopters, highly trained personnel and advanced command and control. The price tag for this would easily run into the tens of millions of dollars. One of our teams wanted to go that country to start assessing what would be required to get this African military into the PR business. Now fortunately this one was so egregious that the right people started asking the right questions: When’s the last time they’ve had to recover someone. The answer was somewhat revealing and disturbing. Only once over the past five years did they have a pilot get shot down, but during that incident, the airman was within reasonable driving distance from an infantry unit of his nation, but they opted not to come to his rescue since it was deemed “too dangerous”. So how does an idiotic idea like this even see the light of day in the first place? First, the native military itself wants it: How cool is it to have an advanced ability just like the western militaries? Never mind that they can’t maintain Toyota pickup trucks or train basic infantry skills by themselves Second, a lot of our own people can’t say ‘no’ to such hare-brained schemes. There is a fear that not giving the locals what they want will anger them and damage our relationships with them. Perhaps it would anger them, but too many of our folks have forgotten that they’re here to serve the interests of the United States of America, not the corrupt minions of some pathetic excuse of a kleptocracy. That our troops neither understand the language nor the culture nor the political landscape of the country they’re “helping” makes it all the more inexcusable. For those of you inclined to give the efforts in Africa the benefit of the doubt, remember that we tried this in Iraq for a decade and in the end the American trained and equipped Iraqi Army melted like a snow cone in the summer heat when it faced ISIS for the first time. We’ve seen similar results in Afghanistan.”