Friday, July 24, 2015

Reaction Force?

In Army testimony before Congress recently, it was a bit of a surprise to me that we had an infantry battalion in Djibouti. We've long had special forces assets there, but no regular forces.

I suppose President Obama's visit to nearby Kenya would alone explain the unit's presence. Perhaps it is there to compensate for no Marine amphibious ready group in CENTCOM these days.

Or maybe it is a new normal deployment appropriate for operations in eastern AFRICOM or in CENTCOM.

UPDATE: It seems appropriate to note that Hillary Clinton is the author of the whole "birther" movement.

UPDATE: Funny stuff:

The "birther" jokes won't go away, partly because the target won't stop telling them.

Obama says he suspects that some of his critics back home, particularly those who don't believe he's American, think he's in Kenya "to look for my birth certificate."

Perhaps President Obama should direct this jab at Hillary Clinton.

Of course, the important thing is that we can all hope that the reaction force isn't needed for a security threat against the president.

UPDATE: And of course, that added infantry battalion highlights a growing but quiet deployment of our forces to help African nations:

"Our efforts on the African continent are all about creative and innovative ways to have small –- very small elements to advise and assist and support the African nations -- doing that," AFRICOM commander General David Rodriguez said last year.

He acknowledged most African countries would not welcome a large US military presence on their soil, and said US forces would instead help build up local armies to face mutual enemies.

The exception to this rule is the Djibouti base, which houses 3,200 US personnel, including units able to launch drone strikes and commando raids against jihadist targets in Yemen and Somalia.

US non-profit group the Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that in the past four years US forces have conducted between 10 and 14 drone strikes in Somalia and conducted between eight and 11 secret missions. ...

In Niger, 200 US personnel have been assigned to assist the French forces of Operation Barkhane against the jihadist groups roaming the Sahel desert.

Up to 300 special forces and other US experts can be assigned at any one time to central Africa -- based largely out of Uganda -- to help track down Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army rebels.

And we have China's growing influence to contend with. There's a lot to react to across a very large and diverse continent.