Pentagon spends in Africa to stem Islamist terrorism
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has begun a burst of spending in Africa, expanding its main base on the continent and investing in air facilities, flight services, telecommunications and electrical upgrades as the U.S. military deepens its involvement in a region with a rising threat of Islamist terrorism.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in expenditures, detailed in unclassified federal documents, demonstrate Africa's increasing importance to U.S. military and counterterrorism operations as the war in Iraq ends and American troops withdraw from Afghanistan.
By far the most significant expansion is occurring at Camp Lemonnier in the deeply impoverished nation of Djibouti, a backwater on the coast of the Gulf of Aden, just north of Somalia. The sprawling base, built out of a onetime outpost of the French Foreign Legion, has been the Pentagon's primary facility in Africa for a decade.
Defense officials last month awarded $200 million in contracts to revamp the base's power plants and build a multistory operations center, aircraft hangar, living quarters, gym and other facilities on a sun-scorched 20-acre site next to the tiny country's only international airport (with which it shares a runway).
The projects are part of $1.2 billion in planned improvements over the next 25 years that will speed Camp Lemonnier's transformation from a makeshift installation where a few hundred Marines once slept in tents into an enduring 600-acre base that now houses about 4,000 U.S. military personnel and civilian contractors.
“Africa is front and center now for the Pentagon, so that means Lemonnier is front and center,” said Rudolph Atallah, former counterterrorism director for Africa at the Defense Department and now chief executive of White Mountain Research, a security consulting company.
U.S. officials have been grappling with the threat posed by al-Qaida-linked militants in Somalia, Yemen and North Africa.
The Pentagon pays $38 million annually to lease the base from Djibouti.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 121 tourists stranded on schooner near Statue of Liberty
- White House intrusions reveal problems with security, Secret Service
- Pentagon program seeks to retain U.S. technological edge against foreign rivals
- Snowden: U.S. shared info about Americans
- Ticks reduce moose population in northern states
- DHS headquarters’ planning goes awry
- Threats from Mexican cartels lead protesters to scrap immigration rallies, organizer says
- FBI, federal marshals join manhunt for survivalist accused of ambushing troopers
- Al-Qaida cell poses as great a danger as ISIS
- Egyptian Bary admits links to 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa
- Scope of Chrysler’s latest SUV recall questioned