The war on terror is expanding into Africa. From AP, :
The United States is scaling up its military presence in Africa as concern mounts over terrorist threats – both immediate and future – on the continent, the deputy head of American forces in Europe said Friday.
“The threat is not weakening, it is growing,” Air Force Gen. Charles Wald said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Luanda, Angola. “We can’t just sit back and let it grow.”
The focus on Africa is part of major restructuring as U.S. forces in Europe reposition for the war against terror. . . .
European Command is not looking to station large concentrations of troops on the continent, Wald said. But it intends to make its presence felt through joint exercises, training initiatives and other exchanges.
U.S. forces have also negotiated access to a number of sites, including air strips in Angola and Gabon, that can be used for stopovers, refueling, or to position troops and equipment.
Wald said this will allow U.S. forces to respond with light, mobile troops – whether for peacekeeping, crisis response or a specific terrorist threat.
“We’re actually going to get more capability with less force because of our ability to move around fast,” he said.
Key to the effort is supporting the development of regional security groups, im-proving the capabilities of African police and soldiers, and building relationships with governments and militaries, Wald said. . . .
Wald’s trip includes stops in regional military powers Nigeria and South Africa; oil-rich Angola, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe; and Algeria and Niger, whose vast desert expanses are seen as a potential haven for terrorists.
At the same time, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Kohler, the European Command’s point man on planning for force reconfiguration, has been visiting the Saharan nations of Mauritania, Mali and Niger.