NATO: AFRICOM's partner in penetrating
by Rick Rozoff
March 20, 2010
The world's oldest extant military bloc
(formed 61 years ago) and the largest in history (twenty eight
full members and as many partners on five continents), the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization, counts among its major member states
all of Africa's former colonial powers: Britain, France, Portugal,
Spain, Italy, Germany and Belgium.
After World War II and the groundswell
of anti-colonial sentiment throughout Africa and Asia, the European
powers were forced to withdraw from most of the African continent,
though Portugal retained its possessions until the 1970s.
Most new African nations adopted some
model of socialist-oriented economic and political development
and the continent as a whole more closely aligned itself with
the Soviet Union, which moreover had for decades supported the
anti-colonial struggles in Africa, than with the West, both Western
Europe and the United States.
With the end of the Cold War and the breakup
of the Soviet Union nearly twenty years ago, the major Western
powers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, united under the aegis
of NATO, saw that as with the Balkans and the former republics
of the Soviet Union itself, Africa was now wide open for penetration
NATO's largest, most powerful and dominant
member is of course the United States. On October 1, 2007 the
Pentagon established United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) under
the temporary wing of United States European Command, which at
the time included in its area of responsibility all of Africa
except for four island nations in the Indian Ocean and the Horn
of Africa states and Egypt. (The first were in Pacific Command
and the others in Central Command where Egypt, alone among Africa's
53 nations, remains.)
A year to the day later AFRICOM was launched
as the first new U.S. regional military command outside North
America since Central Command was activated 25 years earlier in
1983. It takes in far more nations - 52 - than any other military
command in history.
AFRICOM was conceived, carried, nurtured
and delivered by the Pentagon's European Command (EUCOM), based
in Stuttgart, Germany where AFRICOM headquarters are also based
as no nation in Africa has yet volunteered to be the host.
The top commander of EUCOM is "dual-hatted"
as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and has been
from General Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1951 to Admiral James Stavridis
The three top EUCOM/NATO military commanders
most instrumental in the creation of AFRICOM were General Joseph
Ralston (2000-2003), General James Jones (2003-2006) and General
Bantz John Craddock (2006-2009). Arguably Jones, former Marine
Corps four-star general and current U.S. National Security Adviser,
was the real father of Africa Command. 
The distinction between the Pentagon and
NATO in relation to Europe and Africa - and increasingly the Caucasus,
the Caspian Sea Basin, Central Asia, South Asia and the Indian
Ocean - is blurred and more and more of a strictly formal nature.
NATO has now joined AFRICOM's first war,
The bloc's Allied Command Operations website
announced on March 18 that from March 5-16 the North Atlantic
military alliance had airlifted 1,700 Ugandan troops from their
homeland to the Somali capital of Mogadishu for the intensified
fighting that began there earlier this month.
The Pentagon supplied the transport planes
"under the NATO banner" and the operation was "undertaken
by USA contracted DynCorp International." 
The commander of AFRICOM, General William
Ward, recently informed the Senate Armed Services Committee of
plans to focus the military command's attention on East Africa
and indicated plans to assist the formal government of Somalia
to reclaim the country's capital.
In May the European Union is to began
training 2,000 Ugandan troops for deployment to war-wracked Somalia
to assist the regime being propped up by the West.
NATO recently confirmed that it has prolonged
an agreement to provide strategic sealift and airlift support
for African (Ugandan, Rwandan and Burundian) troops to assist
Somalia's Transitional Federal Government in the nation's civil
The bloc's European command, Supreme Headquarters
Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), "delegated the authority to
Joint Command Lisbon to have the operational lead for NATO engagements
with the African Union and they provide the majority of the personnel
to support the mission." 
As with the government of Hamid Karzai
in Afghanistan, the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government
doesn't even control its own capital. Since last week fighting
there has led to hundreds of people being killed and wounded and
Six days earlier NATO effected a changing
of the guard "in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin"
 as part of its Operation Ocean Shield, and five warships of
the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 joined four from the Standing
NATO Maritime Group 1 in Djibouti, where there are some 2,000
U.S. troops and where AFRICOM bases its Combined Joint Task Force-Horn
of Africa. Djibouti also hosts over 1,000 French soldiers and
France's second largest military base abroad.
On March 10 NATO extended its deployment
of warships in the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa until the
end of 2012 in what originally was portrayed as an ad hoc, short-term
deployment when Operation Ocean Shield was initiated last August
following Operation Allied Protector in March. Instead, NATO has
effectively expanded its over eight-year-old naval operation in
the Mediterranean Sea, Operation Active Endeavor, through the
Red Sea and into the Arabian Sea and is now involved in the Horn
of Africa both on land and at sea.
The Standing NATO Maritime Groups consist
of warships from member states assigned for the occasion - the
latest deployment in the Gulf of Aden includes a U.S. ship - and
is under the command of Allied Component Command Maritime Naples,
one of the two Component Commands of Allied Joint Force Command
Allied Joint Force Command Naples (JFC
Naples) was inaugurated six years ago as part of NATO strategy
to deploy further south and east, succeeding Allied Forces Southern
Europe (AFSOUTH). The reorganization was a component of Alliance
transformation policy growing out of the 2002 NATO summit in Prague.
JFC Naples takes in the entire NATO Area of Responsibility (AOR)
which, as will be seen, includes the Balkans, Africa, the Mediterranean
Sea region and Iraq.
Its commander is the U.S.'s Admiral Mark
Fitzgerald, who is also the top commander of U.S. Naval Forces
Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa. Earlier this year Fitzgerald
was in Kosovo threatening Serbian authorities in the north, branding
them "a threat to Kosovo stability." 
NATO's Naples Command has offices and
is involved in operations throughout the Balkans: In Albania,
Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia.
The NATO Training Mission - Iraq is also
conducted under JFC Naples's supervision. (Its first commander
was General David Petraeus, now in charge of United States Central
In his dual capacity as head of U.S. naval
forces in Europe and Africa, Fitzgerald is also in charge of the
Pentagon's Africa Partnership Station (APS), created in 2006 and
now part of AFRICOM.
Its first deployment was to West Africa,
including the Gulf of Guinea, in 2007 and 2008 when the USS Fort
McHenry and HSV (High Speed Vessel) Swift visited Equatorial Guinea,
Gabon, Ghana, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo. Former
NATO Supreme Allied Commander, current U.S. National Security
Adviser, James Jones years ago marked off that expanse of Africa
along its Atlantic Coast as a vital theater in the battle for
world oil supplies. 
On March 13 the U.S. began military exercises
in Ghana which will last to the end of the month.
"The three-week exercise, with about
120 Ghana Armed Forces personnel and about 95 US Marines, forms
part of the Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2010 project."
The operation is the first of three U.S.
Marines will conduct in Africa this year.
The day before the Ghanaian maneuvers
began, AFRICOM completed the Africa Partnership Station East operation
at the other end of the continent.
On its final day a review was held in
Mombasa, Kenya with leaders from Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania and
the U.S., which was hosted by Admiral Mark Fitzgerald of U.S.
Naval Forces Europe-Africa (and NATO's Allied Joint Force Command
Two American warships were deployed for
the occasion, the frigate USS Nicholas and HSV Swift.
A Kenyan naval officer described what
preceded the exercises in East Africa: "From Naples, the
ships steamed to Souda Bay, Greece, and then through the Suez
Canal to our first Africa Partnership Station engagement in Djibouti.
"During this deployment, Swift and
Nicholas covered a total of 12,500 nautical miles and conducted
11 ports of calls; namely, Mombasa, Kenya; Dar es salaam, Tanzania;
Durban and Cape Town, South Africa; Maputo, Mozambique; Port East,
Reunion; Port Louis, Mauritius; and Port Victoria, Seychelles."
The commander of Africa Partnership Station
East, Captain James Tranoris, described its significance: "While
APS has been active in East Africa for a few years, this year
marks the inaugural deployment of an international staff to execute
AFRICOM's APS has established itself in
both the Gulf of Guinea and the western shores of the Indian Ocean.
At the north end of the continent, Admiral
Giampaolo Di Paola, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, was
in Algeria to promote both the Mediterranean Dialogue partnership
and the Alliance's new Strategic Concept.
The first is a NATO program that includes
Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia,
expanding the bloc's influence - and presence - from both banks
of the Jordan River to well down Africa's western coast.
The second is the formalization of NATO's
21st century military strategy to further the global, expeditionary
character of the military bloc.
"During his address the Chairman
underlined the cooperation between NATO and Algeria in the framework
of the Mediterranean Dialogue and praised Algeria's great contribution
to the formation of its Officers in the NATO Regional Cooperation
Course (NRCC) at the NATO Defense College (NDC).
"Admiral Di Paola also stressed the
need to bring forward Mediterranean Dialogue views into the New
NATO Strategic Concept." 
Di Paola also visited Morocco and delivered
a speech on "the new NATO Strategic Concept to officers of
the Royal Moroccan Army General Staff.
"He praised the cooperation between
NATO and Morocco in the framework of the Mediterranean Dialogue
and the contribution of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces to NATO
operations," and urged the "ongoing development of the
new Strategic Concept to strengthen the ties between NATO and
its Mediterranean partners." 
In 1884 the major European powers gathered
at the Berlin Conference to divide up those parts of Africa that
had escaped colonization and to create a consortium to dominate
and exploit an entire continent and its peoples.
The anti-colonial struggles after the
Second World War put an end to that enforced order, but 126 years
later there are ominous indications that the former colonial masters
are nostalgic for their past power.
1) Global Energy War: Washington's New
Kissinger's African Plans, January 22, 2009 <http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/global-energy-war-washingtons-new-kissingers-african-plans>
2) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Allied Command Operations,
March 18, 2010
4) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, March 12, 2010
5) 11 Years Later: NATO Powers Prepare Final Solution In Kosovo,
March 18, 2010 <http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/11-years-later-nato-powers-prepare-final-solution-in-kosovo>
6) Global Energy War: Washington's New Kissinger's African Plans
7) Ghana Government, March 18, 2010
8) United States Africa Command, Africa Partnership Station, March
9) North Atlantic Treaty Organization International Military Staff,
March 15, 2010
10) North Atlantic Treaty Organization International Military
Staff, March 18, 2010