Since 2008, US-trained African military officers have attempted at least nine coups in five West African countries.
According to a Rolling Stone report, eight such coups, which took place in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Mauritania in different years, were successful. The only failed coup was in Gambia in 2014.
The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has confirmed that several African military leaders who staged coups in their countries had participated in AFRICOM’s Flintlock anti-terror exercises. This has been stated by a report released by Pentagon in September, the Rolling Stone article details.
Since 2015, five coups have been carried out by military leaders who had previously participated in Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) Flintlock exercises, according to the report.
The US Department of Defense claims that these exercises, which were first conducted in Africa in 2005, are “designed to strengthen the ability of key partner nations in the region to counter violent extremist organizations.”
“SOCAFRICA’s Flintlock exercise may not be an incubator of insurrection, but recent putschists have been some of its highest profile participants,” stated the Rolling Stone article, written by Nick Turse.
Military officer of Burkina Faso, Gilbert Diendéré, Burkina Faso Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, Colonel Mamady Dumbua (Guinea) and Colonel Assimi Goita (Mali) are some of the military personnel who participated in the US-led exercise and later carried out coups d’état in their countries.
In 2021, elite US troops were operating in nine African countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Somalia and Tunisia, according to retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, head of Special Operations Command Africa until 2017.
However, an investigation by Rolling Stone found that in 2021, US special operators were sent to at least five more African countries—the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, and Somalia.
Approximately 14% of US commandos dispatched overseas in 2021 were sent to Africa, the largest percentage of any region in the world except for the Greater Middle East.
Rear Admiral Milton “Jamie” Sands, head of SOCAFRICA, denied US involvement in the coups, and told Rolling Stone that the US army presence in the African continent is powerless to prevent coups.
Sands said that the US had partnered with regimes that were “not necessarily aligned with the rights and will of their people” and ended up being overthrown.
However, Stephanie Savell, co-director of Brown University’s Costs of War Project, holds the US responsible for the instability in Africa. “The US government consistently lacks transparency in disclosing the scope and locations of its military operations across Africa. The Department of Defense does not acknowledge the full extent of its ‘training’ and ‘cooperation’ activities—oftentimes euphemisms for operations that look very much like combat,” she told Rolling Stone.
(Telesur English) with Orinoco Tribune content
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