Saturday, March 31, 2018

This is Sort of a Big Deal

America has long had only one place that could be called a base in Africa--in Djibouti. And that issue has been so sensitive that it has been described as an "enduring presence" rather than a "base." Now there is Ghana.

Ghana is going to allow America to have a base "unimpeded access to agreed facilities and areas to U.S. forces, their contractors and other related services:"

[The agreement] said facilities provided by Ghana shall be designated as either for exclusive use by U.S. troops or to be jointly used with their Ghanaian counterparts. “Ghana shall also provide access to and use of a runway that meets the requirements of United States forces,” it said.

The Americans will use Ghana’s radio spectrum for free and will be exempted from paying taxes on equipment imported into Ghana, it said.

In return, the United States will this year invest around $20 million in training and equipment for the Ghanaian military. There will also be joint exercises.

Ghana's opposition boycotted the session of parliament that approved the agreement.

So thank you Ghana, for stepping up to help AFRICOM help Africa.

Of course, even with "bases" at opposite ends of Africa and bases in Europe near North Africa, large portions of sub-Sahara littoral Africa are out of range of quick American help. The AFRICOM Queen could fill that gap and reinforce the Ghana positions discreetly from over the horizon.

UPDATE: This is a bit late, but a needed update:

Ghana will not sign an agreement with Washington to set up a military base, President Nana Akufo-Addo said on Thursday.

The president confirmed in a television address that the two countries would ink a defence cooperation agreement, but was emphatic that "Ghana has not offered a military base, and will not offer a military base to the United States of America".

Sensitivity remains, it is clear. It remains unclear whether the agreement allows American forces to operate from Ghana facilities so that it is effectively a base without being called a base.

Let me just say that a bare bones presence that could be rapidly reinforced with assets based on The AFRICOM Queen modularized auxiliary cruiser that remains sensitively over the horizon would help make a low-key presence more useful in crises or for specific training missions with Ghana forces.