Africa Command lists 36 U.S. outposts scattered across 24 African countries.
 United States Census Bureau, "Trade in Goods with Djibouti," accessed 3/27/2016. USAID, "Food Assistance Fact Sheet
America's most elite forces in Africa operate in what Bolduc calls "the gray zone, between traditional war and peace." In layman's terms, its missions are expanding in the shadows on a continent the United States sees as increasingly insecure, unstable, and riven by terror groups.
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.
As General David Rodriguez prepares to retire, he has a reason for avoiding attention. His tenure has not only been marked by an increasing number of terror attacks on the continent, but questions have arisen about his recent testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Rejecting both accurate accounting and actual accountability, the Defense Department has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to keeping Americans in the dark about the activities being carried out with their dollars and in their name.
While the U.S. has always pursued parts of its imperial strategy in "the shadows," to use a phrase from my Cold War childhood, in this new strategy everyday basing, too, is disappearing into those shadows, which is why Nick Turse's latest piece on the subject is a small reportorial triumph of time and effort.
Since 9/11, Africa has increasingly been viewed by the Pentagon as a place of problems to be remedied by military means. And year after year, as terror groups have multiplied, proxies have foundered, and allies have disappointed, the U.S. has doubled down again and again.
Nick Turse's new book of investigative reporting reveals that the U.S. military has been involved in one way or another -- "construction, military exercises, advisory assignments, security cooperation, or training missions" -- with more than 90 percent of Africa's 54 nations, despite military spokespersons insistence that the U.S. maintains only one permanent "base."
For years, as U.S. military personnel moved into Africa in ever-increasing numbers, AFRICOM has effectively downplayed, disguised, or covered-up almost every aspect of its operations, from the locations of its troop deployments to those of its expanding string of outposts.
In Africa, when the U.S. military first started moving onto the continent in a significant way, there were almost no Islamic terror organizations outside of Somalia. Now, with AFRICOM fully invested and operational across the continent, count 'em.
In recent years, the U.S. has been involved in a variety of multinational interventions in Africa, including one in Libya that involved both a secret war and a conventional campaign of missiles and air strikes, assistance to French forces, and the training and funding of African proxies.
In its shadowy "pivot" to Africa, the U.S. military has compiled a record remarkably low on successes and high on blowback. Is it time to add Chad to this growing list?
Nearly everywhere in Africa, the U.S. military is in action. However, except in rare cases, like the recent announcement of an "Ebola surge" in Liberia, you would never know it.
From 2012 to 2013, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence found a 25 percent jump in incidents, including vessels being fired upon, boarded, and hijacked, in the Gulf of Guinea, a vast maritime zone that curves along the west coast of Africa from Gabon to Liberia. Kidnappings are up, too.