Last year, the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Initiative (TSCTI) was allocated just 16 million dollars -- pocket change compared to other U.S. military incursions across the globe. But funding for the exercises, described as enhancing regional security and stability, is expected to grow steadily in coming years.
For 2006, the initiative has been allocated 31 million dollars. The big push comes in 2008, when the administration hopes to get 100 million each year for five years.
To those keeping a close eye on the situation, the question arises whether there will be an accompanying U.S. military build-up in the region.
"The answer is no," according to Maj. Holly Silkman, a public affairs officer for the U.S. military's European Command, or EUCOMM, which is based in Stuttgart, Germany. Besides Western and Central Europe, EUCOMM also claims West Africa as part of its defensive responsibility.
"There are no plans for forward deployed forces in the region," which is U.S. military parlance for bases, Silkman told IPS. "There's not an African nation that wants us there."
But Silkman does not downplay what many know: The U.S. military -- albeit in small numbers -- is on the move in Northwest Africa. Joint anti-terror training exercises, along with some humanitarian development projects, with forces from Chad, Nigeria, Mauritania and other countries are ongoing, she says.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Also of note is this article titled "Funding Doubled for "Anti-Terror" Forces in Africa" (scare quotes in title provided by the IPS):