Archive for the ‘U.S. military’ Category

U.S. Helps African States Fend Off Militants

December 13, 2008

Thousands of miles from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, another side of America’s fight against terrorism is unfolding in this remote corner of West Africa. American Green Berets are training African armies to guard their borders and patrol vast desolate expanses against infiltration by Al Qaeda’s militants, so the United States does not have to.

By Eric Schmitt
The New York Times

In an exercise last month near Bamako, Mali, American troops helped soldiers from Mali and Senegal in West Africa learn to guard their borders against infiltration by Islamic militants.  Photo: Michael Kamber for The New York Times

A recent exercise by the United States military here was part of a wide-ranging plan, developed after the Sept. 11 attacks, to take counterterrorism training and assistance to places outside the Middle East, like the Philippines and Indonesia. In Africa, a five-year, $500 million partnership between the State and Defense Departments includes Algeria, Chad, Mauritania, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia, and Libya is on the verge of joining.

American efforts to fight terrorism in the region also include nonmilitary programs, like instruction for teachers and job training for young Muslim men who could be singled out by militants’ recruiting campaigns.

One goal of the program is to act quickly in these countries before terrorism becomes as entrenched as it is in Somalia, an East African nation where there is a heightened militant threat. And unlike Somalia, Mali is willing and able to have dozens of American and European military trainers conduct exercises here, and its leaders are plainly worried about militants who have taken refuge in its vast Saharan north.

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Sec Defense Gates: US military must retool to fight terrorism

December 5, 2008

In a sign of reforms to come at President-elect Barack Obama’s Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates writes in a new article that he believes the military-industrial complex remains too infatuated with conventional weapon systems and must give greater emphasis to tools better suited to defeating violent extremism and guerrilla insurgencies.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (2nd L) shakes hands ... 
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (2nd L) shakes hands with U.S. President-elect Barack Obama after Obama announced that he has chosen Gates to continue as Secretary of Defense in his administration, as Vice President-elect Joe Biden (L) and Secretary of State nominee Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) look on during a news conference in Chicago December 1, 2008.(John Gress/Reuters)

“What is dubbed the war on terror is, in grim reality, a prolonged, worldwide irregular campaign – a struggle between the forces of violent extremism and those of moderation,” Gates, the first defense chief to be asked to stay on by a new president from the other political party, writes in the upcoming issue of Foreign Affairs magazine. “Direct military force will continue to play a role in the long-term effort against terrorists and other extremists. But over the long term, the United States cannot kill or capture its way to victory.”

Gates, an outspoken supporter of beefing up American diplomatic might since becoming President Bush’s Pentagon boss in 2006, takes on the entrenched forces in the Defense Department, the Congress, and the nation’s largest arms makers….

By  Bryan Bender
The Boston Globe

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