Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Africom Commander In Congo

Africom commander General William E. "Kip" Ward said this week that the U.S. plans to provide training, advice, and capacity building to the Congolese army. He made the remarks during a visit to Kinshasa, the last leg of a three-nation tour that stopped in Kenya and Rwanda as well.

"To restore the peace and stability that the Congolese people deserve talks to the reason for my being here," Ward said at the press conference during his visit. "It is how we can conduct our military activities to support the training and to support the increased professionalization of the Congolese armed forces as best we can as they work to bring security and stability here in the Congo."
Ward met with Congolese Minister of Defense Charles Mwando Nsimba and Chief of Defense Lieutenant General Didier Etumba Longila. He also toured Centre Superieur Militaire, a military school. Under a U.S. State Department program, a seven-man Mobile Training Team instructs Congolese officers in military leadership, preparing plans and orders, military decision-making, and staff functions. The students range in rank from captain to colonel.

This isn't the first training program conducted for the Congolese army by U.S. personnel. In January, a team of military investigators and lawyers held a collaborative training project on the investigation and prosecution of sex crimes that take place under military jurisdiction. The four-day workshop was organized by MONUC in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Defense Institute of International Legal Studies in Newport, Rhode Island. Forty-two military investigators, prosecutors, and magistrates from the province of Orientale attended. The goal was to better enable the military to stop crimes of sexual violence--many of which are committed by soldiers in the FARDC, the Congolese army itself. Another series of workshops are scheduled for other provinces in May.

Plans are also being made for a major medical exercise, MEDFLAG, to be held with the DRC military next summer, according to Colonel (Doctor) Schuyler Geller, U.S. Africom's command surgeon who was on the trip with Ward. MEDFLAG will concentrate on medical training and skill-building for DRC military medical personnel.

Such capacity-building missions are a major acitivty of Africom, the U.S. military command established last fall to oversee American military relations with 53 nations in Africa. In recent testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Ward said the U.S. currently has partnerships with 35 of the 53 nations covered by the command on the continent. Among them are U.S. military/training/aid operations in Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Tunisia, and Uganda. It might be noted that these operations are only those publicly acknowledged by Africom—others are undoubtedly below the radar at the moment.

Africom has been particularly active in Rwanda and Uganda. The organization earned a large black eye earlier this year by providing advice and technical support for the Ugandan attack on Joseph Kony's Lords Resistance Army. That operation turned into a general debacle, resulting in the deaths of about 1000 Congolese civilians and displacement of tens of thousands more.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the


Ending Extreme Poverty in the Congo said...

AFRICOM's planned exercised is needed. The military medical forces could be used to strengthen the struggling civilian medical instrastructure.

During past 10 years, over 5.4 million Congolese have died from preventable and treatable deaths. This fact makes Congo the world's worst humanitarian disaster since World War II.

Medical assistance is needed in Congo.

Woody M. Collins
Congo Helping Hands, Inc.

Dave Donelson said...

I agree, Woody. Africom is not necessarily a bad idea. Efforts in areas such as medical training and establishing systems for military justice can be positive steps in the DRC. Taking it a step further, if the Congolese army can be made more professional (in the best sense of the word) through Africom training, it could be a force for good in the country.

Shakur Africa said...

So, tell me, what right does the US have in its attempt to control the world?

Anonymous said...

To Shakur Africa,

The US has NO right to try to control the world! I do not believe the US wants control Africa either.

I believe, the US has an obligation to do NO HARM and to make the world a better place for all peoples to live. Unfortunately, Africa has been harmed in the past during colonial times. In recent times, Africa is being harmed its own leaders. The poor people of sub-saharan are suffering and dying at the hand of its own people.

I support our current African policies. Frankly, I think we should do more to support the poor and marginalized people of Africa.


Shakur Africa said...

What you are saying is a complete fallacy, when i say this, i mean no insult, if AFRICOM was a humanitarian group, it would be willing to work with Joseph Kony no matter what his credentials (I have read good and bad about him) if not, why not, what good is war as a weapon? I may not know much about Joseph Kony, but I get the jist of US Colonialism, when Bill Clinton bombed El-Shifa Pharmeceutical Plant in Sudan, with his reasons later established to all be false, did they give a shit about preventable and treatable diseases? In fact thousands of Sudanese deaths were caused due to treatable diseases after that bombing which was even cited by the German ambassador of Sudan; by the way El-Shifa specialized in working against malaria.

By 2015 25% of Africa's oil resources will be in US hands due to the resources needed to keep AFRICOM going, in Iran, oil profits are used to benefit the Iranian people in education and facilities, is AFRICOM doing this? No. In fact if you want to talk about poverty in Africa, why hasn't it done nothing with, for example, Liberia, a country even made by the US, below I have its involvement with AFIRCOM

Ms. WOODS: Well, let's be clear. These organizations - the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund - they were created 60 years ago, Farai, to tackle poverty. And as you look around the African continent, all of the countries that have engaged with those institutions are actually much worse off economically.

So it - you know, you look at certain countries, you know, Mozambique, where the life expectancy has dropped to 37. You go around the continent, and it is country after country that has engaged with these institutions, actually, has seen their core resources sold off to the highest bidder. It could be the resources whether its oil or it could be the privatization of water. It's selling off key essential services, whether it's health or education, to the highest bidder often to private corporations.

And so the programs of these organizations, these institutions - the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund - have led to disastrous responses for the African continent. And I think, you know, in addition to the policies, the actual strings attached to those loans have been disastrous. It has created a cycle of debt for African countries that has been inescapable for the last 30 years in many instances.

CHIDEYA: Emira, what can be done then?

Ms. WOODS: So what can be done is end the debt trap, cancel the debt. I think this is on the table squarely this week. There are organizations - Jubilee is an organization of churches and student of groups and grassroots folks from around the world that are calling for the cancelation of debt. There has been so much talk of debt cancelation but really very limited action....

Brother, do you truly view AFRICOM as humane, because I don't fall for what I view it to be propaganda and theft. The resources belong in the hands of the African people, African governments (if the people choose to live that type of lifestyle) should be in the hands of African people, not murdered by CIA coups, or invaded by US-backed regimes, I hate to shine this reality on you, but the US is not humane and has no intention of helping the people of Africa, if you wish to continue debating I, personally have countless more examples to my point.

Hope in a country that has proven itself to be imperialist and has driven people over the edge is not what's needed. Solidarity, which is self-defense through its committed militancy is needed.