Many Small Missions, But Big Ambitions for US Military in Africa

Assorted Tiny Interventions Aimed at Building 'Trust'

Four or five thousand troops is a small footprint by US standards, where the really big wars usually involve ten or twenty times as many, but for AFRICOM, this is enough to cover several interventions at once.

The US “foothold” in Africa is small, to be sure, and spread across myriad different little intervention across the continent. This isn’t just a series of random conflicts, but part of a broader scheme to build relationships with the assorted African militaries and convince them to trust the US with a bigger role in years to come.

Most of the missions are small enough to avoid serious scrutiny at home, with President Obama’s decision to deploy ground troops to Uganda to hunt Joseph Kony barely a footnote in the US media, and the operation’s failure, now seemingly permanently stalled in the wake of the Central African Republic revolution, even less noteworthy.

Elsewhere in Africa, the goal seems to be mostly drones, with efforts to have US drones on hand to kill random threats to random governments likely to sell well in the regime-change cluttered region.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.