U.S. Military Contractors Move into Africa

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

With the establishment of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007, the U.S. government decided to make security a key foreign policy objective for a continent that has long been plagued by civil war and other conflicts. But AFRICOM has no U.S. Army divisions or Marine Corps battalions supporting it. Instead, the U.S. is relying on private military contractors (PMCs) to provide logistical help and military training to African armies.

The State Department is reportedly spending nearly $100 million a year on PMCs to train local forces through its African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program. One of the companies hired is DynCorp International, which has performed work for the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. DynCorp could be paid as much as $20 million over two years for work in Liberia alone, providing operations and maintenance support at Edward B. Kesselly Barracks and Camp Ware.
A previous contract awarded to DynCorp was for recruiting and training Liberia’s infantry. Other companies hired to work in the country include PAE Government Services (a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin) and Protection Strategies Inc., with each receiving contracts valued at $375 million.
Former Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc. was contracted to support three military bases in Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia used by the U.S. Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.
Northrop Grumman was awarded a $75 million deal to train 40,000 African peacekeepers over five years.
And MPRI, a division of L-3 Communications, has been paid by the State Department to train militaries in Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal. The company also provided assistance to South Africa’s military.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
AFRICA: The Mother of All PMC (by David Isenberg, Huffington Post)
Africom Leaders Ignore Skeptics (by Paul McLeary, Aviation Week)


Stuart G.R. Warner 13 years ago
Good rebuttal, Vince.
DTalon 13 years ago
Here is what I don't understand...if the DOD does not have apportioned forces for Africa, but African nations want to have US assistance, what other option besides use of contractors is there? I really think that "contractor" is bandied about too broadly. There is a huge difference between technical experts hired to assist what the military calls "security force assistance" on the one side, labor type work that is done for transportation, construction, and other similar logistic and engineering functions on another side, and the "gun-for-hire" security/protection roles (the one people get all freaky about) on a third. And, if I am not mistaken, a lot of the ACOTA/AFRICAP work is under State Dept not Defense Dept auspices. Correct? The incessant whining from various media outlets within and without the Continent is starting to get tiresome. Let AFRICOM help figure out the right way to go. More importantly, give their model a chance to work. Geez...it's only a couple of years along.
Vince Crawley 13 years ago
Noel, I'm not sure your article shows any evidence of contractors "moving in" to Africa with the creation of U.S. Africa command. Rather, your article summarizes a lot of long-existing, well-established Department of State contractor relationships. For example, the Department of State-funded AFrican Contingency Operations and Training Assistance (ACOTA) program has been in existence since 2004 and has trained approximately 100,000 peacekeepers. General Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, is on the record testifying to U.S. Congress that it is his intent, over the next several years, to reduce the numbers of contractors already existing when U.S. Africa Command was set up. For example, in Liberia, a contractor-led mission to train the New Liberian Army has been taken over by a new military-led mission of several dozen uniformed personnel mentoring the Liberian forces. Respectfully, Vince Crawley U.S. Afica Command Public Affairs http://www.africom.mil

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