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 Nick Turse Archive
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Pentagon Watchdog Calls Out Two Commands for Financial Malfeasance
2017 was a year of investigations for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). There was the investigation of the two-star commander of U.S. Army Africa who allegedly sent racy texts to an enlisted man’s wife. There was the investigation into the alleged killing of a Special Forces soldier by Navy SEALs in Mali. There was the inquiry... Read More
In June, an American Green Beret was reportedly strangled to death in Mali by U.S. Navy SEALs, allegedly in connection with a shadowy money-skimming scheme. (The military is currently investigating.) In July, The Intercept, the London-based research firm Forensic Architecture, and Amnesty International revealed that a drone base used by U.S. forces in Cameroon was... Read More
Secret U.S. Military Documents Reveal a Constellation of American Military Bases Across That Continent
General Thomas Waldhauser sounded a little uneasy. “I would just say, they are on the ground. They are trying to influence the action,” commented the chief of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) at a Pentagon press briefing in March, when asked about Russian military personnel operating in North Africa. “We watch what they do with great... Read More
America’s Elite Troops Partner with African Forces But Pursue U.S. Aims
Al-Qaeda doesn’t care about borders. Neither does the Islamic State or Boko Haram. Brigadier General Donald Bolduc thinks the same way. “[T]errorists, criminals, and non-state actors aren’t bound by arbitrary borders,” the commander of Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) told an interviewer early this fall. “That said, everything we do is not organized around recognizing... Read More
Keeping Track of U.S. Special Ops in Africa
Sometimes the real news is in the details -- or even in the discrepancies. Take, for instance, missions by America’s most elite troops in Africa. It was September 2014. The sky was bright and clear and ice blue as the camouflage-clad men walked to the open door and tumbled out into nothing. One moment members... Read More
When AFRICOM Evaluates Itself, the News Is Grim
It’s rare to hear one top military commander publicly badmouth another, call attention to his faults, or simply point out his shortcomings. Despite a seemingly endless supply of debacles from strategic setbacks to quagmire conflicts since 9/11, the top brass rarely criticize each other or, even in retirement, utter a word about the failings of... Read More
AFRICOM Clams Up After Commander Peddles Contradictory Statements to Congress
General David Rodriguez might be a modern military celebrity -- if he hadn’t spent his career ducking the spotlight. After graduating from West Point in 1976, he began his long march up the chain of command, serving in Operation Just Cause (the U.S. invasion of Panama) and Operation Desert Storm (Iraq War 1.0) before becoming... Read More
Colonel Mark Cheadle, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), recently made a startling disclosure to Voice of America (VOA). AFRICOM, he said, is currently mulling over 11 possible locations for its second base on the continent. If, however, there was a frontrunner among them Cheadle wasn’t about to disclose it. All he would say... Read More
AFRICOM’s New Math, the U.S. Base Bonanza, and “Scarier” Times Ahead in Africa
In the shadows of what was once called the “dark continent," a scramble has come and gone. If you heard nothing about it, that was by design. But look hard enough and -- north to south, east to west -- you’ll find the fruits of that effort: a network of bases, compounds, and other sites... Read More
U.S. Special Ops Missions in Africa Fail to Stem Rising Tide of Terror Groups, Coups, and Human Rights Abuses
"Africa is a challenging place today and one that, if left unattended, is likely to be the birthplace of many more challenges in the future,” Army Secretary John McHugh said recently. Since 9/11, in fact, the continent has increasingly been viewed by the Pentagon as a place of problems to be remedied by military means.... Read More
Will Americans Support Them?
PIBOR, South Sudan -- “I’ve never been a soldier,” I say to the wide-eyed, lanky-limbed veteran sitting across from me. “Tell me about military life. What’s it like?” He looks up as if the answer can be found in the blazing blue sky above, shoots me a sheepish grin, and then fixes his gaze on... Read More
Presidential Waivers, Child Soldiers, and an American-Made Army in Africa
MALAKAL, South Sudan -- I didn’t really think he was going to shoot me. There was no anger in his eyes. His finger may not have been anywhere near the trigger. He didn’t draw a bead on me. Still, he was a boy and he was holding an AK-47 and it was pointed in my... Read More
What U.S. Africa Command Doesn’t Want You to Know
Six people lay lifeless in the filthy brown water. It was 5:09 a.m. when their Toyota Land Cruiser plunged off a bridge in the West African country of Mali. For about two seconds, the SUV sailed through the air, pirouetting 180 degrees as it plunged 70 feet, crashing into the Niger River. Three of the... Read More
Military Missions Reach Record Levels After U.S. Inks Deal to Remain in Africa for Decades
For three days, wearing a kaleidoscope of camouflage patterns, they huddled together on a military base in Florida. They came from U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and U.S. Army Special Operations Command, from France and Norway, from Denmark, Germany, and Canada: 13 nations in all. They came to plan a years-long “Special Operations-centric” military campaign... Read More
A Base Camp, an Authoritarian Regime, and the Future of U.S. Blowback in Africa
Admit it. You don’t know where Chad is. You know it’s in Africa, of course. But beyond that? Maybe with a map of the continent and by some process of elimination you could come close. But you’d probably pick Sudan or maybe the Central African Republic. Here’s a tip. In the future, choose that vast,... Read More
In the Face of Rising Maritime Insecurity, AFRICOM Claims Success and Obama Embraces a Strongman
[This story was reported in partnership with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Additional funding was provided through the generosity of Adelaide Gomer.] “The Gulf of Guinea is the most insecure waterway, globally,” says Loic Moudouma. And he should know. Trained at the U.S. Naval War College, the lead maritime security expert of the... Read More
Hushed Pentagon Investigation Slaps U.S. Africa Command’s Humanitarian Activities
[This story was reported in partnership with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Additional funding was provided through the generosity of Adelaide Gomer.] DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania -- Movie night in Mouloud, Djibouti. Skype lessons in Ethiopia. Veterinary training assistance in Garissa, Kenya. And in this country on the east coast of Africa, work... Read More
The Limits of America’s African Experiment in Nation Building
[This story was reported in partnership with the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. Additional funding was provided through the generosity of Adelaide Gomer.] Juba, South Sudan -- The soft glow of the dancing white lights is a dead giveaway. It’s Christmas in July at the U.S. Embassy compound. Behind high walls topped with fierce-looking... Read More
Is the Conflict in South Sudan the Opening Salvo in the Battle for a Continent?
[This story was reported in partnership with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Additional funding was provided through the generosity of Adelaide Gomer.] Juba, South Sudan -- Is this country the first hot battlefield in a new cold war? Is the conflict tearing this new nation apart actually a proxy fight between the world’s... Read More
A Secret African Mission and an African Mission that’s No Secret
What is Operation New Normal? It’s a question without an answer, a riddle the U.S. military refuses to solve. It’s a secret operation in Africa that no one knows anything about. Except that someone does. His name is Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee Magee. He lives and breathes Operation New Normal. But he doesn’t want... Read More
U.S. Officials Talk Candidly (Just Not to Reporters) about Bases, Winning Hearts and Minds, and the “War” in Africa
What the military will say to a reporter and what is said behind closed doors are two very different things -- especially when it comes to the U.S. military in Africa. For years, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has maintained a veil of secrecy about much of the command’s activities and mission locations, consistently downplaying the... Read More
Documents Reveal Blinding Pace of Ops in 2013, More of the Same for 2014
The numbers tell the story: 10 exercises, 55 operations, 481 security cooperation activities. For years, the U.S. military has publicly insisted that its efforts in Africa are small scale. Its public affairs personnel and commanders have repeatedly claimed no more than a “light footprint” on that continent, including a remarkably modest presence when it comes... Read More
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America’s New Model for Expeditionary Warfare
Lion Forward Teams? Echo Casemate? Juniper Micron? You could be forgiven if this jumble of words looks like nonsense to you. It isn’t. It’s the language of the U.S. military’s simmering African interventions; the patois that goes with a set of missions carried out in countries most Americans couldn’t locate on a map; the argot... Read More
The Startling Size, Scope, and Growth of U.S. Military Operations on the African Continent
They’re involved in Algeria and Angola, Benin and Botswana, Burkina Faso and Burundi, Cameroon and the Cape Verde Islands. And that’s just the ABCs of the situation. Skip to the end of the alphabet and the story remains the same: Senegal and the Seychelles, Togo and Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. From north to south, east... Read More
About Nick Turse

Nick Turse is the associate editor of TomDispatch.com and the winner of a 2009 Ridenhour Prize for Reportorial Distinction as well as a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, In These Times, and regularly at TomDispatch. Turse is currently a fellow at New York University's Center for the United States and the Cold War. A paperback edition of his book The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives (Metropolitan Books) was published earlier this year. His website is NickTurse.com.


PastClassics
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?