Gen. Michael Langley, the head of US Africa Command (AFRICOM), was grilled by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on Thursday about African soldiers who received US military training and went on to carry out coups.
Langley insisted only a “very small number” of Africans who receive US training later go on to be involved in coups against civilian governments and said the programs focus on “core values.”
When asked by Gaetz if the US shares “core values” with Guinea coup leader Col. Mamady Doumbouy, Langley replied, “Absolutely … In our curriculum, we do.” Doumboy and his forces carried out a coup in 2021 while US Green Berets were in the country training them, and he still leads Guinea to this day.
Gaetz also referenced a January 2022 coup in Burkina Faso, which was led by Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damib, who had a long history of participating in US training exercises. Later that year, in September 2022, Damib was ousted in another coup led by Capt. Ibrahim Traore. When asked by journalist Nick Turse if Traore also received US training, the Pentagon said it didn’t know.
Writing for Responsible Statecraft, Turse said since 2008, US-trained soldiers in Africa have “attempted at least nine coups (and succeeded in at least eight) across five West African countries, including Burkina Faso (three times), Guinea, Mali (three times), Mauritania, and the Gambia.”
Langley insisted that the “core values” AFRICOM’s training focuses on include “respect for civilian governance” and said the command will “continue with our persistence in assuring that they harbor democratic norms, democratic values, apolitical.” Gaetz said those values aren’t sticking.
“Just a moment ago, you said we shared core values with Colonel Doumbouya. You said that just moments ago in response to my question, and his core value seems to be leading a coup. So I don’t think it has stuck. I think we should at least know how many countries we train the coup plotters,” he said.