Last year the commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), General William Ward, said the Pentagon had military partnerships with 35 of the continent’s 53 nations, « representing U.S. relationships that span the continent. » 
That number has increased in the interim.
As the first overseas regional military command set up by Washington in this century, the first since the end of the Cold War, and the first in 25 years, the activation of AFRICOM, initially under the wing of U.S. European Command on October 1, 2007, then as an independent entity a year later, emphasizes the geostrategic importance of Africa in U.S. international military, political and economic planning.
Africa Command’s area of responsibility includes more nations – 53, all African states except Egypt, which remains in U.S. Central Command, and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara), which is a member of the African Union but which the U.S. and its NATO allies recognize as part of Morocco, which conquered it in 1975 – than any of the Pentagon’s other Unified Combatant Commands: European Command, Central Command, Pacific Command, Southern Command and Northern Command (founded in 2002).
The U.S. is alone in maintaining regional multi-service military commands in all parts of the world, a process initiated after World War Two as America pursued its self-appointed 20th century manifest destiny as history’s first worldwide military superpower.
Until October 1, 2008 Africa was overwhelmingly in the European Command’s area of responsibility, with all African nations assigned to it except for Egypt, Seychelles and the Horn of Africa states (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan) overseen by Central Command, and three island nations and a French possession off the continent’s eastern coast (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion) placed under Pacific Command.
The month before AFRICOM began its one-year incubation under U.S. European Command in 2007, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Ryan Henry said, « Rather than three different commanders who have Africa as a third or fourth priority, there will be one commander that has it as a top priority. » 
The Pentagon official also revealed that Africa Command « would involve one small headquarters plus five ‘regional integration teams’ scattered around the continent » and that « AFRICOM would work closely with the European Union and NATO, » particularly France, a member of both, which was « interested in developing the Africa standby force ». 
The Defense Department official identified all the key components of Africa Command’s role and adumbrated what has transpired in the almost three-year interim: By subsuming nations formerly in the areas of responsibility of three Pentagon commands under a unified one, the U.S. will divide the world’s second most populous continent into five military districts, each with a multinational African Standby Force trained by military forces from the United States, NATO and the European Union.
Later the same month, the Pentagon confirmed its earlier disclosure that AFRICOM would deploy regional integration teams « to the northern, eastern, southern, central and western portions of the continent, mirroring the African Union’s five regional economic communities…. »
The Defense News website detailed the geographic division described in Defense Department briefing documents issued in that month:
« One team will have responsibility for a northern strip from Mauritania to Libya; another will operate in a block of east African nations – Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania; and a third will carry out activities in a large southern block that includes South Africa, Zimbabwe and Angola….
« A fourth team would concentrate on a group of central African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Congo [Brazzaville]; the fifth regional team would focus on a western block that would cover Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger and Western Sahara, according to the briefing documents. » 
The five areas correspond to Africa’s main Regional Economic Communities, starting in the north of the continent:
-Arab Maghreb Union: Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.
-East African Community (EAC): Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
-Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS): Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
-Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS): Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa), Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe.
–Southern Africa Development Community: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Africa’s far northeast, in and near the Horn of Africa, is in a category of its own, having long been subordinated to the U.S.’s Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) based in Djibouti where the Pentagon has approximately 2,000 personnel from all four branches of the armed services. The Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa area of operations takes in the African nations of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda as well as Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula. In addition to Seychelles, the CJTF-HOA is expanding its purview to include Comoros, Mauritius and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.
Three years ago it was reported that the Pentagon had already « agreed on access to air bases and ports in Africa and ‘bare-bones’ facilities maintained by local security forces in Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. »  That is, in northern, eastern, western, central and southern Africa.
The U.S. has maintained its military base in Djibouti, Camp Lemonnier, since 2003, established a naval surveillance facility in Seychelles last autumn, and has access to base camps and forward sites in Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco, Mali, Rwanda and other nations throughout the continent.
AFRICOM, as noted above, plans a central headquarters on the continent – its current headquarters remains in Stuttgart, Germany, although Djibouti’s Camp Lemonnier functions as a de facto one in Africa – with five regional satellite outposts in northern, southern, eastern, western and central Africa.
The African Standby Force is nominally under the control of the African Union, but its troops are being trained and directed by the U.S., NATO and the military wing of the European Union.
The website of the African Standby Force (ASF) contains links to the following sites:
-ASF Headquarters (Addis Ababa)
The African Union’s secretariat, the African Union Commission, is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is also one of the nations – Liberia and Morocco are others – that has been discussed as a potential site for AFRICOM main headquarters on the continent.
African Standby Force: Trained By U.S. Special Forces, Modeled After NATO Strike Force
Each of the five geographical units listed above is to supply a contingent of up to brigade size (4,000-5,000 troops by NATO standards) for the African Standby Force that is projected to be launched this year.
Two days before U.S. Africa Command was established on October 1, 2007, the American armed forces newspaper Stars and Stripes reported that « The command, scheduled to become operational this week, will focus much of its activity on helping to build the fledgling African Standby Force.
« It is hoped the force, being organized by the Ethiopia-based African Union, or AU, will be ready by 2010. It would consist of five multinational brigades based in the giant continent. Each brigade would perform missions in its given region, such as peacekeeping when the need arose.
« Gen. William E. Ward, nominated to become the first AFRICOM commander, last week told the U.S. Senate in writing that U.S. troops would help the brigades come to life. »
Ward, earlier head of NATO’s Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia in 1996, said in his own words, « AFRICOM will assume sponsorship of ongoing command and control infrastructure development and liaison officer support. It would continue to resource military mentors for peacekeeping training, and develop new approaches to supporting the AU and African Standby Forces.” 
This February a NATO website detailed the North Atlantic military bloc’s role in complementing AFRICOM efforts to build the African Standby Force:
« NATO began providing support to the AU Mission in May 2005 based on specific requests from the AU. NATO nations supported [the] AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) by providing airlift for 32,300 personnel….NATO continues to support the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) through the provision of strategic sea- and air-lift for AMISOM Troop Contributing Nations on request. The last airlift support occurred in June 2008 when NATO transported a battalion of Burundian peacekeepers to Mogadishu.
« Joint Command Lisbon is the operational lead for NATO/AU engagement, and has a Senior Military Liaison Officer at AU HQ in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. NATO also supports staff capacity building through the provision of places on NATO training courses to AU staff supporting AMISOM, and support to the operationalisation of the African Standby Force – the African Union’s vision for a continental, on-call security apparatus similar to the NATO Response Force. » 
The NATO Response Force (NRF) completed what was described at the time as its final validation in the two-week, 7,000-troop Steadfast Jaguar military exercises in the African island nation of Cape Verde in 2006.
Africa was the testing ground for the NRF and the NRF is the model for the African Standby Force:
« Since June 2007, NATO has assisted the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by providing airlift support for AU peacekeepers. This support was authorized until February 2009 and the Alliance is ready to consider any new requests from the AU. NATO also continues to work with the AU in identifying further areas where NATO could support the African Standby Force. » 
« NATO is also providing, at the AU’s request, training opportunities and capacity building support to the African Union’s long term peacekeeping capabilities, in particular the African Standby Force. » 
Since the Berlin Plus agreements between NATO and the European Union in 2002, the military components of both organizations not only overlap and complement each other, but are being integrated at a qualitatively higher level for overseas missions like those in and off the coasts of Africa.
Three years ago French General Henri Bentegeat, then Chairman of the European Union Military Committee, met with EU defense ministers in Germany and an account of his comments included: « The European Union’s drive for a stronger global military role includes an upgrading of ties with the United Nations, NATO and the African Union….In addition to last year’s military mission in Congo and logistical help for African Union forces in Darfur, Bentegeat said the EU wanted to help an ambitious AU programme to create a standby force for peacekeeping missions. » 
Even before AFRICOM was activated as a separate military command in the autumn of 2008, U.S. European Command was conducting large-scale multinational military maneuvers in various regions of Africa to train units for the five regional brigades that will form a unified, continental African Standby Force.
Starting in 2006 U.S. European Command (and subsequently Africa Command) has conducted annual Africa Endeavor multinational communications interoperability exercises – frequently in nations on the strategic Gulf of Guinea – with the participation of the armed forces of African, NATO and European Union nations. Africa Endeavor 2007 was held in Ghana and the contributing countries were the U.S., Algeria, Angola, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Gambia, Lesotho, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sweden, Uganda and Zambia. It was jointly run by U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command and the nascent U.S. Africa Command.
« AE [Africa Endeavor] fosters better collaboration in the Global War on Terrorism and supports the deployment of peacekeepers in Sudan and Somalia.
« Furthermore, AE assists in establishing critical communication links to enhance the African Standby Forces’s developments in command, control, communications and information systems (C3IS) and strengthens national, regional, continental and partner relationships…. » 
Africa Endeavor 2008 was held in Nigeria and included military personnel from 22 African and European nations as well as the U.S.
« During the course of the exercise, participating nations and organizations also continued their efforts to develop standard practices and procedures for the African Union and its African Standby Force. » 
In 2005 the U.S. launched the first of regular Flintlock multinational military exercises to initiate and expand the Pentagon’s Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Initiative (TSCTI), formed in the same year, to train the military forces of Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia. Washington’s NATO allies Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain are also involved in the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Initiative.
The exercises are run by U.S. Special Operations Command Europe. (In 2007 NATO announced that its Special Operations Coordination Center would be headquartered at the same Kelley barracks on the U.S. base in Stuttgart where AFRICOM headquarters are located.)
An account of the initial 2005 operation divulged that « The U.S. government reportedly plans to spend $500 million over five years to make the Sahara Desert a vast new front in its war on terrorism….During the first phase of the program, dubbed Operation Flintlock, 700 U.S. Special Forces troops and 2,100 soldiers from nine North and West African nations [participated]. » 
This year’s 22-day Flintlock 2010, launched on May 2, includes 600 U.S. special forces and 150 counterparts from Britain, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Spain.
« The objective of Flintlock 10 is to develop military interoperability….Centered in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, but with tactical training conducted in Senegal, Mali, Mauritania and Nigeria, Flintlock 10 will begin 2 May and end 23 May, 2010….Flintlock 10 looks to build upon the successes and lessons learned during previous Flintlock exercises, which were conducted to establish and develop regional relationships and synchronization of efforts among the militaries of the Trans-Saharan region.
« This exercise will take place in the context of the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP). Supported by the U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) and the Special Operations Command (SOCAFRICA), the exercise will provide military training opportunities…. » 
AFRICOM recently announced that the Special Operations Command Africa « will gain control over Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara (JSOTF-TS) and Special Operations Command and Control Element – Horn of Africa (SOCCE-HOA), »  to centralize special forces activities in Africa.
Efforts to create the proposed African Standby Force brigade in the north of Africa have floundered for several reasons. Egypt is not member of the Maghreb Union nor is it in AFRICOM’s area of responsibility. Libya is one of the most vocal opponents of AFRICOM. There is residual tension between Algeria and Morocco over Western Sahara, which Algeria recognizes as an independent nation. But Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia are all members of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue partnership program.
AFRICOM’s plans for regional military intervention contingents are proceeding more favorably in the east, west and south. In June of 2008 the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) conducted a military exercise, Jigui 2008, in Mali with its fifteen member states, and « for the first time, the regional force exercise involved the African Union, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the multinational Standby High Readiness Brigade based in Denmark (SHIRBRIG) and the Ethiopia-based Eastern African Standby Force (EASTBRIG).
« All the exercises were supported by the host governments as well as France, Denmark, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the European Union.
« Jigui 2008 is consistent with previous training programmes of ECOWAS and is within the framework of the African Union (AU) Standby Force, which seeks to have ready by 2010 one force by each of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Africa.
« The ECOWAS target is to create a 2,770-man Task Force of the 6,500 troops of the regional force which will be available under the control of the AU [African Union]. » 
A year before Senegal hosted military maneuvers with several other West African nations – Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, the Republic of Guinea (Conraky) and Mali – to « test the (troops’) deployment ability » with military aircraft, vehicles and ships provided by France « ahead of the planned creation of an ECOWAS standby force. »
The participating states were trained to « form the western battalion of the 6,500-men intervention force which ECOWAS wants to set up by 2010.
« Army chiefs of ECOWAS member countries agreed in June 2004 to create the permanent 6,500-man force, including the 1,500-strong rapid reaction unit for troubleshooting missions. » 
Jigui 2009 was held in Burkina Faso with the participation of U.S. Army Africa, the Vicenza, Italy-based Army component of AFRICOM.
Last month ECOWAS held a field training exercise in Benin, Exercise Cohesion Benin 2010, which « aimed to evaluate the operational and logistics readiness of the Eastern Battalion of the ESF, which is part of the overall preparation for the operationalisation of the African Standby Force by December 2010. » 
In October of last year the Kenyan press reported on Western involvement in building the African Standby Force brigade on the eastern end of Africa:
« Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish officers will assist the region in the ongoing establishment of a united military force to deal with conflicts on the continent.
« Once functional, the East African Standby Brigade (EASBRIG) will be deployed to trouble spots within 14 days after chaos erupts, to restore order….The brigade will have troops from 14 countries.
« The experts from the European countries…are based at the EASBRIG headquarters, at the Defence Staff College in Karen, Nairobi.
« Vice-Chief of General Staff Julius Karangi said the foreign experts would help fast-track the process of setting up the standby brigade. » 
EASBRIG consists of troops from Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, and through the Eastern African Standby Brigade Coordination Mechanism is moving toward the consolidation of the eastern wing of the African Standby Force.
The East African Standby Brigade is to be headquartered in Kenya, and last November a field training exercise was held for it in Djibouti where the U.S. has its main military base in Africa and France has its largest anywhere abroad. A Rwandan news source wrote of it months afterward: « The historical exercise brought together approximately 1,500 troops, police and civilian staff from 10 countries working side-by-side for the first time.” 
The most immediate site for the use of the East African Standby Brigade is Somalia, where member states Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya are already involved. EASBRIG will also be available for operations in Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic as well as against Eritrea. In March of last year AFRICOM chief General William Ward « cited three areas of current conflict on the continent, including border disputes between Eritrea and Djibouti on the Horn of Africa and in North Africa [with] the Western Sahara, and clashing in the Democratic Republic of Congo. »
Speaking of the command he heads, Ward added, « the United States was able to lend assistance to Uganda, Rwanda, Congo and to a lesser degree…the Central African Republic. » 
The European Union, already involved in the first naval operation in its history, European Union Naval Force Somalia – Operation Atalanta, in the Horn of Africa, has deployed a military mission to Uganda to train 2,000 Somali troops to defend the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu.
Africa Partnership Station: U.S. Warships Patrol African Coasts
In recent years U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa has developed the Africa Partnership Station (APS) as a naval component of AFRICOM. Its first deployment took the APS to Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo, all on the Gulf of Guinea except for Senegal which lies to the north of it.
In the same year, 2007, NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 1, with one warship each from Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and the U.S., started a circumnavigation of Africa with stops in the Gulf of Guinea and ending with « exercises in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Somalia…. » 
At the time Admiral Henry Ulrich, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, said, « The Global Fleet Station concept is ‘closely aligned’ with the task to be provided by the still-developing U.S. Africa Command, »  and later announced the departure of the USS Fort McHenry and the High Speed Vessel Swift for a seven-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea in November of 2007 as part of the Navy’s Global Fleet Station program. The Africa Partnership Station is one of several Global Fleet Stations recently set up by the U.S., others being assigned to the Caribbean Sea and Oceania. « As a dock landing ship, the Fort McHenry is designed to help get U.S. personnel onto ‘hostile shores,’ according to the Navy. » 
Phil Greene, director of Strategy and Policy, Resources and Transformation for U.S. Naval Forces Europe, added that the USS Fort McHenry would have a multinational staff, « partnering with nations such as France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal and others who have an interest in developing maritime security in that region. » 
In fact the USS Fort McHenry first arrived in Spain « to take on passengers from several European partners – Spain, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Germany, among them – before heading to the Gulf of Guinea, » where it was joined by the High Speed Vessel Swift to « transport students as well as trainers during visits to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe. » 
In 2007 U.S. warships visited Mozambique for the first time in 33 years and Tanzania for the first time in 40.
As part of Africa Partnership Station port visits last year, the guided-missile destroyer Arleigh Burke traveled to Djibouti, Kenya, Mauritius, Tanzania and South Africa, in the last case holding a week of joint exercises with one of the nation’s warships.
In February of 2009 « for the first time the U.S. Navy [had] warships on each side of the African continent as part of Africa Partnership Station’s ongoing teaching mission with African nations. »  To wit, a frigate in Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania and an amphibious transport dock in Senegal.
The month before a U.S. frigate became the first Navy warship to anchor off Equatorial Guinea’s mainland city of Bata « as part of the Navy’s Africa Partnership Station initiative, » after visits to Cape Verde,
Senegal, Benin and Sierra Leone on its way to Tanzania and Kenya.
The U.S. charge d’affaires in Equatorial Guinea was quoted as offering one reason for the visit: « It’s the third largest oil- and gas-producer in sub-Saharan Africa, with a significant foreign investment footprint…. » 
« The October 2007 initial deployment of the Africa Partnership Station (APS) to the Gulf of Guinea and the coincident rollout of A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower signaled a strong American commitment to leveraging U.S. sea power….The APS is a Global Fleet Station (GFS) sea base designed to assist the Gulf of Guinea maritime community in developing better maritime governance….The Global Fleet Station, born out of a need for military shaping and stability operations…is a proven concept for this mission in such areas as the Gulf of Guinea and the Caribbean basin. » 
Currently AFRICOM is leading the Phoenix Express 2010 maritime counter-insurgency exercise in the Mediterranean Sea with Morocco and Senegal among other African nations.
Paralleling NATO’s almost nine-year Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean which patrols the northern coast of Africa from the Suez Canal to the Strait of Gibraltar, the U.S. Navy now regularly roams the African coastline from where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean down to the strategic oil-rich Gulf of Guinea and all the way south to Cape Town, then north again along the entire Indian Ocean coast to the Red Sea. Africa is encircled by U.S. and NATO warships.
Pentagon Builds Surrogate Armies To Control Africa Region By Region
On the mainland, the Pentagon has transformed the armed forces of Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia into military surrogates on both ends of the continent. Since 2006 « a U.S. State Department-led initiative…has completely rebuilt the military in Liberia, » according to AFRICOM. 
Last October the commander of U.S. Army Africa, Major General William B. Garrett III, visited Rwanda (whose military is a U.S. and British proxy) and « stressed that the US army is interested in strengthening its cooperation with the Rwandan Defence Force (RDF). » Garrett confirmed that the U.S. was ready to send more advisers and trainers for the Rwandan army and added, « Likewise, we hope that the Rwandan Defence Forces can also participate in our exercises. So we are hoping to increase the level of cooperation between the US and the Rwandan Defense forces. » 
Earlier in the year AFRICOM’s General Ward also visited Rwanda, where he « met with Rwandan defense leaders and watched displays of Rwandan Defense Force (RDF) capabilities during a two-day visit April 20-21, 2009. » 
Late last year Ward visited Morocco, a U.S. military partner for several decades, where he had paid two visits the preceding year, and « discussed bilateral military cooperation and opportunities to strengthen
partnership between the Royal Armed Forces and the U.S. Army. »
Recently U.S. Marines trained Moroccan troops in Spain ahead of 12-nation naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean Sea.
This April 28 Ward paid his third visit to Botswana, « where he discussed ongoing regional security efforts and potential future military-to-military activities with the BDF [Botswana Defence Force]….The BDF and U.S. military conducted 40 cooperation events together in 2010. »
The following day the AFRICOM chief paid his first visit to Namibia where « he met with Namibia’s National Defense Force officials to discuss potential future cooperation activities. » 
On April 27 Brigadier General Silver Kayemba, chief of training and operations for the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF), visited Washington to meet with Major General William B. Garrett III, commander of U.S. Army Africa.
The Ugandan general was quoted saying on the occasion, « This visit strengthens our relationship with the U.S. Armed Forces, particularly with U.S. Army Africa. We are looking forward to even closer cooperation in the future. » 
Under an Africa Partnership Station program, a 130-troop Security Cooperation Marine Air Ground Task Force has been training military forces in Ghana, Liberia and Senegal. The marine commander in charge, Lieutenant Colonel John Golden, said, « This is the cutting edge of phase zero counterinsurgency, » an aspect of « military-to-military training in a very austere environment in areas where there hasn’t been a lot of U.S. military presence in the last 235 years.” 
A report by the Stars and Stripes on May 2 disclosed that « At a remote military base in the jungle city of Kisangani, an elite team of U.S. troops is attempting to retrain a battalion of Congolese infantrymen. »
The feature laid emphasis on the humanitarian facet of the operation as reports on AFRICOM activities generally do, but also contained these excerpts:
« There are economic and strategic incentives to bringing more security to the Congo, which is rich in natural resources such as cobalt, a key component in the manufacturing of cell phones and other electronics. The country contains 80 percent of the world’s cobalt reserves….An April 2009 report to Congress by the National Defense Stockpile Center made clear that ensuring access to mineral markets around the world is of vital interest to national security. » 
The U.S. is not dragging almost every nation in Africa into its military network because of altruism or concerns for the security of the continent’s people. AFRICOM’s function is that of every predatory military power: The threat and use of armed violence to gain economic and geopolitical advantages.