Vince Crawley's Africa Blog

Africa and the U.S. Quadrennial Defense Review

Posted in Uncategorized by Vince Crawley on March 5, 2014

NOTE: By my count, Africa or African is mentioned 21 times in the newly released Quadrennial Defense Review, including two mentions of the African Union and one mention, in a photo caption, of the Central African Republic.

The text below highlights sections of the QDR that mention U.S. defense policy toward Africa. In most contexts throughout the 88-page document, Africa is mentioned alongside the Middle East as a region of instability. This is intended as a quick summary, not a comprehensive analysis. Other aspects of the Quadrennial Defense Review may also impact U.S. defense strategy in Africa. The full document, 3.5 Megabytes in PDF format, is available at the following link: http://www.defense.gov/pubs/2014_Quadrennial_Defense_Review.pdf

A bit of background: The QDR was released March 4, 2014, in connection with the administration’s annual defense budget proposal to Congress. The QDR is a strategic review originally intended to provide a rationale for the size and configuration of U.S. armed forces. The review takes place every four years and first began with the Bottom Up Review under the late Defense Secretary Les Aspin in 1993 to develop a strategic framework for shaping the
U.S. military in a post-Cold War environment. Successive administrations have conducted a review at the beginning of each four-year presidential term.

Quadrennial Defense Review 2014

 “… The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) seeks to adapt, reshape, and rebalance our military to prepare for the strategic challenges and opportunities we face in the years ahead. … ”

 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel introduction memo.

Pages v, vi (3rd and 4th pages of the Executive Summary):

Building on the Defense Strategic Guidance

The United States exercises global leadership in support of our interests: U.S. security and that of our allies and partners; a strong economy in an open economic system; respect for universal values; and an international order that promotes peace, security, and opportunity through cooperation. Protecting and advancing these interests, consistent with the National Security

Strategy, the 2014 QDR embodies the 21st century defense priorities outlined in the 2012

Defense Strategic Guidance. These priorities include rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region to preserve peace and stability in the region; maintaining a strong commitment to security and stability in Europe and the Middle East; sustaining a global approach to countering violent extremists and terrorist threats, with an emphasis on the Middle East and Africa; continuing to protect and prioritize key investments in technology while our forces overall grow smaller and leaner; and invigorating efforts to build innovative partnerships and strengthen key alliances and partnerships. The 2014 QDR builds on these priorities and incorporates them into a broader strategic framework. The Department’s defense strategy emphasizes three pillars:

  • Protect the homeland, to deter and defeat attacks on the United States and to support civil authorities in mitigating the effects of potential attacks and natural disasters.
  • Build security globally, in order to preserve regional stability, deter adversaries, support allies and partners, and cooperate with others to address common security challenges.
  • Project power and win decisively, to defeat aggression, disrupt and destroy terrorist networks, and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

These pillars are mutually reinforcing and interdependent, and all of the military Services play important roles in each. Our nuclear deterrent is the ultimate protection against a nuclear attack on the United States, and through extended deterrence, it also serves to reassure our distant allies of their security against regional aggression. It also supports our ability to project power by communicating to potential nuclear-armed adversaries that they cannot escalate their way out of failed conventional aggression. Building security globally not only assures allies and partners and builds their capacity but also helps protect the homeland by deterring conflict and increasing stability in regions like the Middle East and North Africa. Our ability to project forces to combat terrorism in places as far away as Yemen, Afghanistan, and Mali – and to build capacity to help partners counter terrorism and counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – reduces the likelihood that these threats could find their way to U.S. shores.

Page xiii

… In the near term, U.S. forces will remain actively engaged in building partnerships and enhancing stability in key regions, but our engagement will be even more tailored and selective. We will continue to sustain a heightened alert posture in regions like the Middle East and North Africa.

Page 3

… In a fundamentally globalized world, economic growth in Asia; aging populations in the United States, Europe, China, and Japan; continued instability in the Middle East and Africa; and many other trends interact dynamically.

Page 5

… Many countries in the Middle East and Africa are undergoing significant political and social change. People in countries including Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt are seeking a greater voice in their governance, upending traditional power centers in the process. Terrorist groups seek to exploit transitional governments and expand their influence. Internal strife in Syria continues amid sectarian friction, at great cost to human life. Syria has become a magnet for global jihad – a situation that is likely to persist as long as the current leadership remains in power. Ongoing, severe spillover effects include an influx of foreign fighters and a flood of refugees into neighboring countries. These difficult political transitions are a reminder that events in the region will take years – perhaps decades – to develop fully.

In Africa, terrorists, criminal organizations, militias, corrupt officials, and pirates continue to exploit ungoverned and under-governed territory on the continent and its surrounding waters. The potential for rapidly developing threats, particularly in fragile states, including violent public protests and terrorist attacks, could pose acute challenges to U.S. interests. At the same time, there is also significant opportunity to develop stronger governance institutions and to help build professional, capable military forces that can partner with the United States to address the full spectrum of regional security challenges. Multilateral peace operations under the aegis of the United Nations, African Union, and sub-regional organizations are playing an increasingly prominent role in maintaining and restoring international security, including through prevention and mitigation of mass atrocities in threat environments that previously would have deterred multilateral action.

Europe remains our principal partner in promoting global security. As unrest and violence persist, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, Europe will be critical in addressing these challenges. Europe is home to our most stalwart and capable allies and partners, and the strategic access and support these countries provide is essential to ensuring that the U.S. Armed Forces are more agile, expeditionary, and responsive to global challenges.

Page 11

The United States underwrites global security by exercising leadership in support of four core national interests:

  • The security of the United States, its citizens, and U.S. allies and partners;
  • A strong, innovative, and growing U.S. economy in an open international economic system that promotes opportunity and prosperity;
  • Respect for universal values at home and around the world; and
  • An international order advanced by U.S. leadership that promotes peace, security, and opportunity through stronger cooperation to meet global challenges.

The military is just one of many tools we as a nation have to protect our national interests. Whenever possible, we seek to pursue these interests through diplomacy, economic development, cooperation and engagement, and through the power of our ideas.

Page 12

… Protecting and advancing U.S. interests, consistent with the National Security Strategy, the 2014 QDR embodies the 21st century defense priorities outlined in the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. These priorities include rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region to preserve peace and stability; maintaining a strong commitment to security and stability in Europe and the Middle East; sustaining a global approach to countering violent extremists and terrorist threats, with an emphasis on the Middle East and Africa; continuing to protect and prioritize key investments in technology, while our forces overall grow smaller and leaner; and invigorating efforts to build innovative partnerships and strengthen key alliances and partnerships.

Page 18

Photo caption: Burundi soldiers prepare to load onto a U.S. C-17 Globemaster at Bujmumbura Airport, Burundi. In coordination with the French military and the African Union, the U.S. military provided airlift support to transport Burundi soldiers, food, and supplies in the Central African Republic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Erik Cardenas)

Page 19:

The United States remains focused on maximizing our impact throughout Africa by actively working with key partners to foster stability and prosperity. Many African countries are undertaking efforts to address the wide range of challenges they face, by improving their governance institutions, strengthening rule of law, and protecting borders more effectively. The U.S. Armed Forces cooperate with counterparts on counterterrorism and counter-piracy efforts, partnership capacity building – especially for peacekeeping – and crisis and contingency response. Recent engagements in Somalia and Mali, in which African countries and regional organizations are working together with international partners in Europe and the United States, may provide a model for future partnerships.

Page 35

Maintaining Global Posture

… Recognizing Europe’s strategic importance to operations in both Africa and the Middle East, we will work closely with host nations to improve the access and flexibility of our European basing to be able to better respond to crises in the region and beyond.

Page 36

Africa. The Department will continue to maximize the impact of a relatively small U.S. presence in Africa by engaging in high-return training and exercise events; negotiating flexible agreements; working with interagency partners; investing in new, effective, and efficient small footprint locations; and developing innovative approaches to using host nation facilities or allied joint-basing.

Page 37:

Counterterrorism and Special Operations: … The United States will continue to advise, train, and equip partner forces to perform essential tasks against terrorist networks, complementing U.S. activities in the field. Operations and activities in the Maghreb, Sahel, and Horn of Africa, for example, further our national security interests without a large commitment of U.S. forces.

Page 39:

… The United States will need to continue to make difficult and deliberate decisions about how to prioritize the use of military force and how to deploy forces to our global Combatant Commanders based on its national security interests. In the near term, U.S. forces will remain actively engaged in building partnerships and enhancing stability in key regions, but our engagement will be even more tailored and selective. We will sustain a heightened alert posture in regions like the Middle East and North Africa. When possible, we will seek to reinforce our commitment to regional security by undertaking activities such as military-to-military engagements with critical partners. Over the long term, we face the risk of uncertainty inherent to the dynamic nature of the security environment.

Page 55:

The United States would remain committed to the security of our European allies and partners, but under sequestration-level cuts we would be unable to continue participating at current levels in joint training and exercises that are central to our relationships with allies and partners. This and other trends over the mid- to long-term would degrade hard-earned interoperability that we have developed between our forces and European militaries, threatening our ability to collectively and rapidly achieve objectives in potential future operations. If sequestration continues, there would be fewer U.S. military forces in other regions, such as the Western Hemisphere and Africa, than there are today. These regions are already seeing the impact of increasingly constrained resources.

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2 Responses

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  1. Roger Pociask said, on April 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    For your review:http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/23080-africom-goes-to-war-on-the-sly

  2. HOPY said, on April 27, 2014 at 9:16 am

    “continue to protect and prioritize significant investment in technology, while our forces to develop overall smaller and more compact, and energized the effort to build innovative partnerships and strengthen the alliance and an important partnership “great if this problem was noted and developed my least favorite technology software field.


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