[News] The U.S. military's 36 code-named operations in Africa
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 17 11:32:45 EDT 2019
Revealed: The U.S. military's 36 code-named operations in Africa
Nick Turse and Sean D. Naylor Nick Turse and Sean D. Naylor
April 17, 2019
Many Americans first became aware of U.S. military operations in Africa
in October 2017, after the Islamic State ambushed American troops near
Tongo Tongo, Niger, killing four U.S. soldiers and wounding two others.
Just after the attack, U.S. Africa Command said U.S. troops were
providing “advice and assistance
<https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DLXe9uiXcAAUJjz.jpg>” to local
counterparts. Later, it would become clear that those troops — the
Detachment-Alpha Team 3212
were working out of the town of Oullam
a larger Nigerian force under the umbrella of Operation Juniper Shield,
a wide-ranging counterterrorism effort
Until poor weather prevented it, that team was supposed to lend support
to another group of American commandos who were trying to kill or
capture Islamic State leader Doundoun Cheffou as part of Obsidian Nomad
Juniper Shield and Obsidian Nomad II were not isolated efforts but part
of a panoply of named military operations and activities U.S. forces
have been conducting from dozens of bases across the northern tier of
Africa. Many of these operations are taking place in countries that the
U.S. government does not recognize as combat zones, but in which U.S.
troops are nonetheless fighting and, in several cases, taking casualties.
Between 2013 and 2017, U.S. special operations forces saw combat in at
least 13 African countries, according to retired Army Brig. Gen. Don
Bolduc, who served at U.S. Africa Command from 2013 to 2015 and then
headed Special Operations Command Africa until 2017. Those countries,
according to Bolduc, are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African
Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Libya, Mali,
Mauritania, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan and Tunisia. He added that U.S.
troops have been killed or wounded in action in at least six of them:
Kenya, Libya, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan and Tunisia.
Yahoo News has put together a list of three dozen such operations across
The code-named operations cover a variety of different military
missions, ranging from psychological operations to counterterrorism.
Eight of the named activities, including Obsidian Nomad
are so-called 127e programs
named for the budgetary authority that allows U.S. special operations
forces to use certain host-nation military units as surrogates in
Used extensively across Africa, 127e programs can be run either by Joint
Special Operations Command (JSOC), the secretive organization that
controls the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, the Army’s Delta Force and other
special mission units, or by “theater special operations forces.” These
programs are “specifically designed for us to work with our host nation
partners to develop small — anywhere between 80 and 120 personnel —
counterterrorism forces that we’re partnered with,” said Bolduc. “They
are specially selected partner-nation forces that go through extensive
training, with the same equipment we have, to specifically go after
counterterrorism targets, especially high-value targets.”
Using documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, interviews,
published reports and a Defense Department list of named U.S. military
operations that leaked
<https://fas.org/irp/agency/dod/milops-2018.pdf> online, Yahoo News put
together the following list of 36 operations and activities that are (or
were until recently) ongoing in Africa.
Where possible, Yahoo News has also listed the bases that support these
operations, relying mostly on information sheets about those locations
obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. Yahoo News does not claim
that this list is comprehensive.
While the Defense Department has acknowledged the names, locations and
purposes of some of these operations, others are far lower-profile.
Almost all are unknown to the general public:
*ARMADA SWEEP:* A U.S. Navy electronic surveillance effort conducted
from ships off the coast of East Africa, Armada Sweep
<https://theintercept.com/drone-papers/target-africa/> supports the U.S.
drone war in the region.
*Bases used: *Unknown
*ECHO CASEMATE:* This operation covers a series of activities in the
Central African Republic. It began in 2013 as asupport
for French and African forces deployed to the troubled Central African
Republic for peacekeeping purposes and continued as an advise-and-assist
mission to those African peacekeeping forces. However, U.S. forces
neither accompanied their partners in the field nor formally trained
them. The operation also covered the introduction of contractors and
Marines to secure the U.S. Embassy in Bangui and the deployment of a
small U.S. special operations contingent to assist the U.S. ambassador
in missions to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army. In the first days of
the operation, the U.S. military airlifted hundreds of Burundian troops,
tons of equipment and more than a dozen military vehicles into the
Central African Republic, according
Africom. The U.S. military continued transporting French forces
and out of the Central African Republic, and the mission was still
underway in early 2018.
*Base used:* Abeche, Chad
*EXILE HUNTER: *One of a family of similarly named counterterrorism
efforts that U.S. special operations forces have conducted in East
Africa. Exile Hunter was a 127e program in which elite U.S. troops
trained and equipped an Ethiopian force for counterterrorism missions in
Somalia. Bolduc says he shut it down in 2016 because the Ethiopian
government was uncomfortable about the force not falling under its
command. However, a February 2018 Defense Department list
<https://fas.org/irp/agency/dod/milops-2018.pdf> of named operations
suggests it had been resurrected.
*Bases used: *Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti
*JUKEBOX LOTUS: *Operation Jukebox Lotus
as the crisis response to the September 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya,
that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other
Americans, but continued until at least 2018. It gives Africa Command
broad authority to conduct a variety of operations in Libya as required
and is specific to neither special operations nor counterterrorism.
*Bases used: *Faya Largeau and N’Djamena, Chad; Air Base 201, Agadez, Niger
*JUNCTION RAIN:* A maritime security effort in the Gulf of Guinea
involving African and U.S. Coast Guard boarding teams operating from
U.S. Navy ships or those of African forces. In 2016, the hybrid teams
conducted 32 boardings
resulting in $1.2 million in fines levied for more than 50 maritime
violations, as well as the recovery of a diesel fuel
that had been seized by pirates. Last year, operations with the
Senegalese and Cabo Verdean navies resulted in at least 40 boardings
mostly of fishing vessels — and $75,000 in fines handed down for two
*Base used: *Dakar, Senegal
*JUNCTION SERPENT: *A surveillance effort
Libya that, as part of the 2016 campaign of airstrikes
Islamic State positions in the Libyan city of Sirte, gave Joint Special
Operations Command specific authorities to coordinate assets in order to
develop targeting information for the campaign
*Bases used: *Unknown
*JUNIPER MICRON:* In 2013, after France launched a military intervention
against Islamists in Mali code-named Operation Serval, the U.S. began
Operation Juniper Micron
which involved airlifting French soldiers and supplies into that former
French colony, flying refueling missions in support of French airpower,
and assisting allied African forces. Juniper Micron was ongoing as of
October 2018, with plans for it to continue
*Bases used: *Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Istres-Le Tube Air Base
France; Bamako and Gao, Mali; Air Base 201 (Agadez), Arlit, Dirkou,
Madama and Niamey, Niger; Dakar, Senegal
*JUNIPER NIMBUS: *Juniper Nimbus
<https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/juniper-nimbus.htm> is a
long-running operation aimed at supporting the Nigerian military
campaign against Boko Haram.
*Bases used: *Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; N’Djamena, Chad; Arlit, Dirkou
and Madama, Niger
*JUNIPER SHIELD: *The umbrella operation for the mission that resulted
in the deadly ambush in Niger, Juniper Shield
the United States’ centerpiececounterterrorism effort
northwest Africa and covers 11 nations
Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger,
Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia. Under Juniper Shield, U.S. teams rotate in
every six months to train, advise, assist and accompany local partner
forces to conduct operations against terrorist groups, including
ISIS-West Africa, Boko Haram and al Qaida and its affiliates.
*Bases used:* Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Garoua and Maroua, Cameroon;
Bangui, Central African Republic; Faya Largeau and N’Djamena, Chad;
Bamako and Gao, Mali; Nema and Ouassa, Mauritania; Air Base 201
(Agadez), Arlit, Diffa, Dirkou, Madama and Niamey, Niger; Dakar, Senegal
*JUPITER GARRET:* A JSOC operation
at high-value targets in Somalia, Jupiter Garret first came to light in
a 2012 Washington Post article
It was ongoing as of February 2018
*Bases used: *Camp Lemonnier and Chebelley, Djibouti; Laikipia, Manda
Bay and Wajir, Kenya; Baidoa, Baledogle, Bosasso, Galcayo, Kismayo and
*JUSTIFIED SEAMOUNT: *Another counter-piracy effort in the waters off
*Bases used: *Chebelley, Djibouti; Laikipia, Mombasa and Wajir, Kenya;
Victoria, Seychelles; Baidoa, Baledogle, Kismayo and Mogadishu, Somalia
*KODIAK HUNTER:* A 127e program in which U.S. special operators trained
and equipped a Kenyan force to conduct counterterrorism missions in Somalia
*Base used: *Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Manda Bay, Kenya
*MONGOOSE HUNTER:* A 127e program in which U.S. special operations
forces trained and equipped a Somali force for counterterrorism missions
*Base used: *Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Baledogle, Somalia
*NEW NORMAL:* An Africa-wide crisis response capability established by
the U.S. military after the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in
*Bases used:* Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Libreville, Gabon; Accra, Ghana;
Dakar, Senegal; Entebbe, Uganda
*NIMBLE SHIELD: *A low-profile effort targeting Boko Haram and ISIS-West
*Bases used:* Douala, Garoua and Maroua, Cameroon; Bangui, Central
African Republic; N’Djamena, Chad; Diffa, Dirkou, Madama and Niamey, Niger
*OAKEN SONNET I-III:* A series of three contingency operations in South
was the difficult
rescue of U.S. personnel
that country at the beginning of its civil war. Oaken Sonnet II took
place in 2014 and Oaken Sonnet III in 2016.
*Base used: *Juba, South Sudan
*OAKEN STEEL: *The reinforcement of the U.S. Embassy in Juba, South
Sudan, to protect State Department personnel during a conflict between
rival factions in that country’s civil war, Operation Oaken Steel
<https://www.dvidshub.net/news/printable/238552>, which ran fromJuly 12,
to Jan. 26, 2017, saw U.S. forces deploy to Uganda to provide for rapid
crisis response during the unrest.
*Bases used: *Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Moron Air Base, Spain; Entebbe
*OBJECTIVE VOICE: *In 2010, the first head of Africa Command, Army Gen.
William “Kip” Ward, told
Senate Armed Services Committee that Operation Objective Voice was an
“information operations effort to counter violent extremism by
leveraging media capabilities in ways that encourage the public to
repudiate extremist ideologies.” Coordinated with other government
agencies, this propaganda effort included “youth peace games” in Mali, a
film project in northern Nigeria, and, according to his successor, Army
Gen. Carter Ham, a “variety of messaging platforms, such as the African
Web Initiative, to challenge the views of terrorist groups.” Objective
Voice continues today.
*Bases used:* Garoua and Maroua, Cameroon; Bangui, Central African
Republic; Abeche, Faya Largeau and N’Djamena, Chad; Bamako and Gao,
Mali; Nema and Ouassa, Mauritania; Air Base 201 (Agadez), Arlit and
Madama, Niger; Dakar, Senegal; Entebbe, Uganda
*OBLIQUE PILLAR:* A program to provide private contractor helicopter
support to Navy SEAL-advised units of the Somali National Army fighting
al-Shabab in Somalia. The operation was in existence as of February 2018.
*Bases used: *Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Mombasa and Wajir, Kenya;
Baidoa, Baledogle, Kismayo and Mogadishu, Somalia; Entebbe, Uganda.
*OBSERVANT COMPASS:* An operation to capture or kill Joseph Kony and
eradicate his Lord’s Resistance Army, a militia that has committed
atrocities since the 1980s. In 2017, with around $780 million spent on
the operation, and Kony still in the field, the United States wound down
Observant Compass and shifted its forces elsewhere. But the operation
didn’t completely disband, according to the Defense Department. “U.S.
military forces supporting Operation Observant Compass transitioned to
broader scope security and stability activities that continue the
success of our African partners,” Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Candice
Tresch told Yahoo News.
*Bases used: *Obo, Central African Republic; Abeche, Chad; Dungu,
Democratic Republic of Congo; Juba and Nzara, South Sudan; Entebbe, Uganda
*OBSIDIAN LOTUS: *A 127e activity concentrated on Libya, in which U.S.
commandos trained and equipped Libyan special operations forces
battalions. One of those units ended up under the control of renegade
warlord Gen. Khalifa Haftar, according to Bolduc.
*Bases used: *Unknown
*OBSIDIAN MOSAIC: *A 127e counterterrorism effort focused on Mali.
*Bases used: *Unknown.
*OBSIDIAN NOMAD I and II:* Two 127e counterterrorism programs in Niger:
Obsidian Nomad I in Diffa and Obsidian Nomad II in Arlit. The
operational name emerged
the wake of the October 2017 ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers.
*Bases used: *Arlit and Diffa, Niger
*OCTAVE ANCHOR:* A psychological operation focused on Somalia
*Bases used: *Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Mogadishu, Somalia
*OCTAVE SHIELD: *An Africa Command psychological operation focused on
Somalia, carried out under the aegis of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn
of Africa, based at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.
*Bases used:* Camp Lemonnier and Chebelley, Djibouti; Laikipia, Manda
Bay, Mombasa and Wajir, Kenya; Victoria, Seychelles; Baidoa, Baledogle,
Bosasso, Galcayo, Kismayo and Mogadishu, Somalia; Entebbe, Uganda.
*OCTAVE SOUNDSTAGE:* A JSOC psychological operation focused on Somalia.
*Bases used: *Unknown
*OCTAVE STINGRAY:* A JSOC psychological operation focused on Somalia
*Base used: *Mogadishu, Somalia
*OCTAVE SUMMIT:* A JSOC psychological operation focused on Somalia
*Base used: *Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti
*ODYSSEY LIGHTNING: *The campaign of special operations-directed
airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Sirte, Libya, between August
and December 2016
*Base used: *Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Italy
*ODYSSEY RESOLVE:* Another component of the 2016 special operations
campaign of air strikes against the Islamic State in the Libyan city of
Sirte,Operation Odyssey Resolve
of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights. It was ongoing
as of February 2018.
*Bases used:* Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Faya Largeau, Chad; Benina and
Misrata, Libya; Bamako and Gao, Mali; Nema and Ouassa, Mauritania; Arlit
and Niamey, Niger; Dakar, Senegal; Bizerte, Tunisia; Entebbe, Uganda
*PALADIN HUNTER: *A 127e counterterrorism program in the semi-autonomous
Puntland region of Somalia.
*Bases used: *Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Bosasso and Galcayo, Somalia
*RAINMAKER: *A highly sensitive classified signals intelligence effort
*Bases used: *Chebelley, Djibouti; Baidoa, Baledogle, Kismayo and
*ULTIMATE HUNTER:* A 127e counterterrorism program using a U.S.-trained,
equipped and directed Ugandan force in Somalia.
*Bases used: *Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.
/*Information on which operations the following bases support was
partially redacted: Douala, Garoua and Maroua (all Cameroon); N’Djamena,
Chad; Bangui, Central African Republic; Diffa, Dirkou, Madama and Niamey
(all Niger). The list of operations supported by Tobruk and Tripoli
(both Libya) was fully redacted. Other data were likely withheld
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