chapter  5
24 Pages

Africa’s Strategic Environment and the U.S. Global Posture

Since the September 11 attacks, a major American security priority in Africa has been countering the spread of extremism in the continent’s weak states and ungoverned territories. Although the establishment of AFRICOM and its role in training African armed forces also focuses on capacity building for humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, training is also geared heavily toward counterterrorism. Beyond its importance to counterterrorism, Africa has strategic signifi cance in other areas, including the continent’s vast energy and mineral resources, its growing trade potential, its geographical position astride major sea lanes, its infl uence in international forums where African countries make up the single largest voting bloc, and its role in the transnational traffi cking in drugs, arms, people, and other contraband, activities that often fund extremism. These elements of Africa’s strategic signifi cance, some of which overlap with the terrorist threat, exemplify the broader dimensions of security interests and threats.