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Seabees and Red Horse squadron personnel, highly mobile civil engineering response forces supporting, respectively, the US Navy and Marine Corps and the US Air Force contingency and special operations worldwide, have been deploying to the Tan Tan area to build the infrastructure for the base AFRICOM will be using.
I remain skeptical that AFRICOM will use the base as a headquarters. AFRICOM headquarters will remain in Stuttgart, Germany as I’ve stated in a previous article. Cap Draa will most likely house a minimally manned forward Command and Control (C2) element as well as a logistical base for the pre-positioning of War Reserve Materiel (WRM), i.e. bare base systems, medical, munitions, fuels mobility support equipment, vehicles, rations, aerospace ground equipment, air base operability equipment and associated spares and other consumables. The base will coordinate with and provide support to Marine Air/Ground Task Force (MAGTF) elements, US Navy combat ships, US Army Special Operations units, US Air Force Logistical fleet, and National Guard forces. Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU), US Air Force fighter jets, and Army Operational Detachment Alphas will, thus, be able to use the Moroccan Sahara as year-round training grounds. Their programs will include a training package for the Moroccan military, one of which is the African Lion reiteration.
Morocco’s strategic decision to sponsor a US base in Tan Tan will move any future talks on the disputed Sahara into a more intensive and substantive phase. Algeria and its proxy army, polisario, have clearly lost the initiative. Morocco stands to benefit from the US presence on its territory in a number of other ways. In the article I mentioned earlier, I stated the following:
The benefits to be accrued by the Moroccan government outweigh the risks. Militarily, Morocco will have added access to U.S. military provision programs allowing it to upgrade its military hardware. Under the auspices of the Foreign Military Training Programs, its military personnel will benefit from the advanced training courses U.S. military schools and academies offer; the U.S. DoD will also provide funding to refurbish Moroccan military bases, ports, and airfields. The Moroccan coast guard will gain the assistance of the U.S. navy in its interdiction operations in the Strait of Gibraltar and along its Atlantic shores. The government’s offensive against Islamic extremist cells will also stand to benefit from U.S. intelligence capabilities and U.S. funds set specifically for anti-terrorism operations in Africa. Other agencies, such as U.S.AID, governed by the U.S. Department of State will be involved, providing a much needed boost to social and economic reforms. Overall, the establishment of AFRICOM in Morocco will stabilize the region and foster an environment friendly to foreign investment and conducive to economic growth.
Other US bases are been established throughout the continent. The strategic intent of the Pentagon’s military planners is for AFRICOM to increase its footprint in the continent and to lay the ground for a rapid and long-term access to troubled areas and specifically oil producing regions.
A. T. B. Copyright © 2008