SEATTLE — On June 4, 2015, with Senator Jeff Flake presiding, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy heard four witnesses discuss security assistance to Africa. These witnesses were: The Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs in the Department of State; The Honorable Puneet Talwar, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Political-Military Affair in the DOS; Ms. Amanda J. Dory, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs in the Department of Defense; and Ms. Lauren Ploch Blanchard, Specialist in African Affairs in the Congressional Research Service.
Security assistance includes military assistance, peacekeeping techniques, preventing and responding to conflict, maritime safety and combating terrorism. In this particular hearing, combating terrorism seemed to be a salient issue in Africa.
All of the witnesses mentioned terrorism in Africa multiple times. All witnesses mentioned the threat of terrorist groups like al-Shabaab, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, and Boko Haram. The Honorable Thomas-Greenfield mentioned the atrocity of the al-Shabaab terrorist attack on Garissa University in Kenya. Ms. Blanchard mentioned that the U.S. has greatly increased security assistance to Africa after it saw the need to combat terrorist groups specifically.
President Obama also launched an initiative earlier this year to combat terrorism called the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund, or CTPF. Subsequently, the DOS and the DOD have requested more money in order to comply with these standards. President Obama’s new CTPF could double the United States’ security assistance spending in Africa relative to 2014.
The State Department seems to have a significant interest in combating terrorism. The DOS has two programs that help prevent and combat terrorism: the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership and the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism. Additionally, Foreign Military Financing,or FMF, can be used to help combat terrorism. Both witnesses from the DOS mentioned that these programs help African partners build security sectors to respond to violence and address the causes of radicalization. The Honorable Thomas-Greenfield mentioned the success story of Mali. In 2012 and 2013, African forces and the French military responded to a coup d’etat by the terrorist group AQIM. The effort was successful. In 2013, the country held democratic elections.
The DOS requested a significant increase in funding in order to combat terrorism. The largest area of funding in the DOS, Peacekeeping Operations, or PKO, is largely used to combat terrorism. The largest share of security assistance in Africa supports the African forces fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia. In the past decade, about $1.4 billion has gone to this effort. The money was allocated through the PKO. The DOS is seeking $340 million for PKO in 2016, which is more than the $156 million allocated in 2014. The DOS requested a $9 million increase in FMF in 2016, specifically for counterterrorism efforts. Additionally, the State Department requested $45 million for Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining and Related Programs, or NADR. The DOS is also requesting an additional $390 million for NADR-OCO, which complies with the President’s proposed CTPF.
The DOD also largely focuses on anti-terrorism efforts in terms of security assistance in Africa. “In no area is the importance of close and continual Department of Defense coordination and cooperation with the Department of State more important than counterterrorism,” said Ms Dory. The DOD’s counterterrorism efforts in Africa have increased greatly in recent years. Title 10 security cooperation funds in Africa increased from $53.7 million in 2010 to $379.6 million in 2014. This funding increase was primarily driven to improve African counterterrorism response. The DOD intends to spend approximately $466 million in 2015 CTPF money in Africa. Additionally, the DOD is $1.269 billion in 2016 funds to counter terrorism in the Sahel/Maghreb, Lake Chad Basin and Horn of Africa.
Security assistance in 1985 for Africa was $168 million. In 2014, it may have been around $800 million. U.S. security assistance seems to largely focus on combating Islamist extremist groups. The 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa and the 9/11 attacks appear to have changed U.S. foreign policy decisions in Africa.
– Ella Cady