Small Wars Journal

Why the U.S. Should Spend 0.3% of Its Defense Budget to Prevent an African Debacle

Why the U.S. Should Spend 0.3% of Its Defense Budget to Prevent an African Debacle by Katherine Zimmerman – Military Times

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has hinted at the possibility that the U.S. will reduce its military presence in Africa, suggesting recently that European partners could “offset” changes to the U.S. posture. Such a shift would be part of a rebalancing effort to compete globally with Russia and China while reducing U.S. resource commitments to the counterterrorism fight.

It is a mistake. In terms of bang for the buck, America’s small military footprint in Africa buys more than just security from terrorism threats, it buys American influence on the fastest-growing continent, and does so cheaply.

Tempting as it may be to pull resources from Africa to commit elsewhere — including Asia — such a move presents opportunities for U.S. antagonists to strengthen in a vacuum created by America’s absence. Russia and China are actively investing in the continent. So, too, are al-Qaida and the Islamic State, especially after defeats in Yemen and Iraq. Outside of Africa, America’s gains against great-power competitors will be marginal, while the loss of U.S. influence in the continent and impact on national security interests will be great…

Read on.