[News] The U.S. military's 36 code-named operations in Africa

Anti-Imperialist News 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 
<https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/world/africa/niger-ambush-defense-department-report.html> — 
were working out of the town of Oullam 
<https://dod.defense.gov/portals/1/features/2018/0418_niger/img/Oct-2017-Niger-Ambush-Summary-of-Investigation.pdf> with 
a larger Nigerian force under the umbrella of Operation Juniper Shield, 
a wide-ranging counterterrorism effort 
<http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/14923/what-you-need-to-know-about-why-u-s-special-operations-forces-are-in-niger> in 
northwest Africa.

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 
<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/26/world/africa/niger-soldiers-killed-ambush.html> II.

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 continent.

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 
counterterrorism missions.

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 
<http://www.africom.mil/media-room/Article/11575/dod-continues-central-african-republic-peacekeeping-support> mission 
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 
<http://www.africom.mil/Newsroom/Article/11575/dod-continues-central-african-republic-peacekeeping-support> to 
Africom. The U.S. military continued transporting French forces 
<https://www.315aw.afrc.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/633159/charleston-airmen-receive-4-af-aircrew-excellence-award/> in 
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 
<https://www.usuhs.edu/sites/default/files/media/bde/pdf/chaplainmackbio.pdf> began 
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 
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/26/nigeria-navy-oil-tanker-pirates-us-training-mission> tanker 
that had been seized by pirates. Last year, operations with the 
Senegalese and Cabo Verdean navies resulted in at least 40 boardings 
<https://www.africom.mil/media-room/Article/30988/first-phase-of-amlep-closes> — 
mostly of fishing vessels — and $75,000 in fines handed down for two 
fishing violations.

*Base used: *Dakar, Senegal

*JUNCTION SERPENT: *A surveillance effort 
<https://warisboring.com/the-pentagons-timeline-of-its-latest-libya-intervention-just-doesnt-line-up/> in 
Libya that, as part of the 2016 campaign of airstrikes 
<https://www.defensenews.com/breaking-news/2016/08/01/us-conducts-new-round-of-airstrikes-against-isis-in-libya/> against 
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 
<https://www.amc.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1654978/fairchild-kc-135s-airmen-support-operation-juniper-micron/> in 
the future.

*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 
<https://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Documents/defbudget/fy2019/FY2019_OCOTF_Justification_Book_FINAL.pdf> is 
the United States’ centerpiececounterterrorism effort 
<http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/14923/what-you-need-to-know-about-why-u-s-special-operations-forces-are-in-niger> in 
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

<https://theintercept.com/document/2015/10/15/small-footprint-operations-5-13/#page-6> aimed 
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 
Mogadishu, Somalia

*JUSTIFIED SEAMOUNT: *Another counter-piracy effort in the waters off 
East Africa

*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 
against al-Shabab

*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 
Benghazi, Libya

*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 
Sudan.Oaken Sonnet 
<https://www.hqmc.marines.mil/Portals/133/2Major%20Keefer%20BIO.pdf?ver=2017-08-24-104530-233> I 
was the difficult 
<https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/28/magazine/niger-ambush-south-sudan-military.html> 2013 
rescue of U.S. personnel 
<https://medium.com/authority-magazine/together-were-better-because-of-the-diversity-of-thought-lessons-learned-with-chris-rawley-4a4a17384864> from 
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 
<https://www.army.mil/article/35595/africom_posture_statement_ward_reports_annual_testimony_to_congress> the 
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 
<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/26/world/africa/niger-soldiers-killed-ambush.html> in 
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 
<https://www.defensenews.com/breaking-news/2016/08/01/us-conducts-new-round-of-airstrikes-against-isis-in-libya/> consists 
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 
Mogadishu, Somalia

*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 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
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