The US February 7 report on US operations in Africa is very important. It notes the following:
This Lead Inspector General (Lead IG) report to the United States Congress on the East Africa Counterterrorism Operation and the North and West Africa Counterterrorism Operation is the 6th quarterly report—and the first unclassified report—detailing both operations. The purpose of these operations is to degrade al Qaeda and ISIS affiliates, and other terrorist groups, in designated regions of Africa. This report covers the period from October 1, 2019, to December 31, 2019.
What is happening?
In East Africa this quarter, al Shabaab intensified its threat to U.S. forces and interests by conducting multiple high-profile attacks. This included an attack, just after the quarter ended, on Kenya’s Manda Bay Airfield that killed three U.S. military personnel. Despite continued U.S. airstrikes in Somalia and U.S. assistance to African partner forces, al Shabaab appears to be a growing threat that aspires to strike the U.S. homeland.
And in West Africa the US is working with other partners, such as France. But the US warns:
In West Africa, local and international forces were overmatched by violent extremist organizations (VEOs). U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) does not lead any counterterrorism operations but provides support to partner forces in West Africa. USAFRICOM stated to the DoD OIG that VEOs are neither contained nor degraded in the Sahel and Lake Chad region, where at least 230 African partner nation soldiers were killed this quarter by jihadist violence in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
The Department of Defense is now looking to totally revamp these operations, in a “Blank Slate Review” of USAFRICOM.
One option under consideration, according to media reports, is a reduction of resources deployed to West Africa, where extremist violence is increasing and the humanitarian crisis has reached unprecedented levels.
But the enemy has not gone away:
In North Africa, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and ISIS-Libya did not conduct any attacks this quarter. U.S. drones strikes in September 2019 significantly degraded ISIS-Libya. However, the ongoing Libyan civil war risks a resurgence by either group without steady counterterrorism pressure.
And they keep attacking:
The East Africa and North and West Africa Counterterrorism Operations were designated as overseas contingency operations in February 2018. At the time of the designation, both operations were pre-existing counterterrorism operations. The Secretary of Defense removed the overseas contingency operation designation for both operations in May 2019, but the two operations continue to receive Overseas Contingency Operation funding.
READ THE full report here. It is called “Lead Inspector General for EastAfrica And North And West Africa Counterterrorism Operations I Quarterly Report to the United States Congress I October 1, 2019, through December 31, 2019.”