The war you’ve never heard of

Added: 07-03-2018

This article summarizes a recent military report on US involvement in Africa, and finds that the US has a surprising 100+ military missions ongoing in Africa at any given time. With steadily increasing military personnel in the region (growth of 17x in the last decade), Turse concludes that the US is seeking to reclaim influence and resources in Africa, especially now with the support of Trump’s leadership. 

natural resources Africa United States (US) military scramble for Africa Donald Trump patronize Somalia invasion paternalism AFRICOM Barack Obama SOCAFRICA

Type Reading Time Author Date Source
article 6 minutes NICK TURSE 05-18-2017
Type Reading Time
article 6 minutes
Author Date
nick turse 2018-07-03 00:00:00 UTC
Key Takeaways

  • The United States (US) has increased its military presence in Africa 17 times in the last ten years, with over 100 missions ongoing at any given time. 
  • The US increased military action in Africa is the result of changing US political priorities and steadily increasing demand for African oil. 
  • US language and culture maintains a paternalistic tone regarding African military operations.


This Vice article from 2017 summarizes a recent report from special operations command in Africa (SOCAFRICA), which describes that the United States (US) government was carrying out over 100 military missions throughout the African continent at any given moment during this decade. From 2006 to 2016, the number of American commandos in Africa increased 17 times. 

Nick Turse focuses on a shifting attitude within the US, that the US should become more involved in political affairs in Africa. But, the impact of this has been more violence. Immediately following Donald Trump’s loosening of ‘Obama-era’ restrictions on US offensive operations in Somalia, two military personnel were wounded and one was killed in a firefight outside Mogadishu, Somalia. 

New leadership in the US has also allowed US Africa Command (AFRICOM) to interrogate subjects more quickly. The US has also been reported to be collecting increased data on aid organizations in the area. Much of this operation is disguised as “building partner capacity” by training partners and allies. 

Turse states, “U.S. operations in Somalia are part of a larger continent-spanning counter-terrorism campaign that saw special operations forces deploy to at least 32 African nations in 2016.” For example, the US spent $165 million in the Chad Lake region to combat Boko Haram. Turse concludes with a quote from the leader of SOCAFRICA, Andrew Bolduc, “We believe the situation in Africa will get worse without our assistance.”


In 2016, a wave of articles came out covering this subject following the publication of this SOCAFRICA report, adding smaller details, but drawing the same conclusion that the US is amply increasing its involvement in African politics and resources.