The headline for this story, at Current is Growing The Empire. US Deploying Troops To 35 African Countries.

Of course the DC spin is that this is all about “training” troops of these nations. No doubt training will occur. Maybe that will be all. Maybe it’s just another start.

From NPR:

An Army brigade from Fort Riley, Kan., some 4,000, soldiers, will begin helping to train African militaries. The idea is to help African troops beat back a growing terrorist threat posed by al-Qaida.

The American troops will head over in small teams over the course of the next year. The Dagger Brigade returned to Kansas last year from a deployment to Iraq, where it trained and advised that country’s security forces. …

The brigade is expected to deploy in small teams beginning next spring throughout Africa. The soldiers will take part in military exercises and train African troops on everything from logistics and marksmanship to medical care.

According to “top American commander for Africa, Gen. Carter Ham,” U.S. Green Berets have “trained African troops” before now, but “this new effort is more comprehensive, and necessary given emerging security threats on the continent.” Richard Downie, an Africa expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is quoted in the NPR article, regarding security threats:

“˜Particularly the spread of terrorism you have al-Qaida’s local franchise in Africa controlling two thirds of that country right now.’

And to counter that terrorist threat, the Obama administration wants to rely on African forces. That means giving them proper equipment and training, and that’s where the troops from Fort Riley come in.

Downie emphasized terrorism as a “symptom of a lot of other problems that really the military is not the best organization to solve.”

According to NPR, the

… Dagger Brigade will be able to take part in nearly 100 separate training and military exercises next year, in nearly three dozen African countries. Some of those efforts by the Army teams will last a few days, others a month or more.

These soldiers will not be allowed to take part in combat missions with African forces. That would require high-level Pentagon approval.

An AP report :

“˜If they want them for (military) operations, the brigade is our first sourcing solution because they’re prepared,’ said Gen. David Rodriguez, the head of U.S. Army Forces Command. “˜But that has to go back to the secretary of defense to get an execute order.’ …

Rodriguez said the nearly 100 assignments so far requested by Ham will be carried out with “˜a very small footprint to get the high payoff.’

(DOD Emblem via DOD)