Just a few years ago, the U.S. military was all but absent from the oil-rich waters of West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea.
This year, it plans to be there every day.
Africa’s strategic importance is on the rise, as the U.S. acknowledged last month with the creation of a new unified U.S. military command for the continent called Africom. Monday brings the first military mission to Africa since Africom’s founding, a U.S. Navy cruiser on a half-year training exercise through the Gulf of Guinea that stops first in Senegal’s capital, Dakar.
For American commanders, Africom means consolidating responsibility for a continent previously split among three other regional commands, each of which saw Africa as a secondary interest.
However, Africom’s creation has provoked so much skepticism on the continent that one of the most basic questions — where it will be located — remains unresolved. [complete article]