U.S. Military Activities in Kenya
By Daniel Volman
Now that President George Bush’s special envoy to the Kenyan crisis, Jendayi Fraser (US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs) has admitted that the elections in Kenya were seriously flawed (a polite way of saying they are fraudulent) and ordered President Mwai Kibaki to meet the opposition leader, Raile Odinga, it is easy to forget that the United States Ambassador in Kenya only weeks ago declared the elections free and fair.
But neither position is contradictory as the US is heavily invested in stability in Kenya.
Kenya has long been a key military partner of the United States and a major African recipient of U.S. military assistance.
The Pentagon gave Kenya $1.6 million worth of weaponry and other military assistance in 2006 and an estimated $2.5 million in 2007 through its Foreign Military Sales Program. In 2008 the Bush Administration expects to provide Kenya with $800,000 in Foreign Military Financing Program funds to pay for further arms purchases. Kenya has also been permitted to make large arms deals directly with private American arms producers through the State Department’s Direct Commercial Sales Program. Kenya took deliver of $1.9 million worth of arms this way in 2005, got an estimated $867,000 worth in 2007, and is expected to receive another $3.1 million worth this year.
In addition, the Bush Administration intends to spend $550,000 in 2008 to train Kenyan military officers in the United States through the International Military Education and Training Program at military academies and other military educational institutions in the United States.
The United States is also providing training and equipment to Kenya’s military, internal security, and police forces through several global and regional programs. These include, the:
• The East Africa Counter-Terrorism Initiative established in 2003 as a multi-year program with $100 million in funding to provide training to Kenya as well as to Uganda, Tanzania, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.
• The Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) Program was created in 1983—under the administration of the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security—to provide training, equipment, and technology to countries all around the world to support their participation in America’s Global War on Terrorism. The largest ATA program in Africa is targeted at Kenya, where it helped created the Kenyan Antiterrorism Police Unit (KAPU) in 2004 to conduct anti-terrorism operations, the Joint Terrorism Task Force in 2004 to coordinate anti-terrorism activities (although the unit was disbanded by the Kenyan government in 2005, and is now training and equipping members of a multi-agency, coast guard-type unit to patrol Kenya’s coastal waters. Between 2003 and 2005 (the most recent years for which this information is available), ATA provided training both in Kenya and in the United States to 454 Kenyan police, internal security, and military officers.
The creation of the KAPU was financed with $10 million IN 2003, along with $622,000 from ATA; the ATA spent $21 million on training for Kenya in 2004, $3.5 in 2005, and another $3.2 in 2006. The Bush administration requested $2.9 for 2007 and an additional $5.5 in 2008.
• The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) was created in October 2002 to conduct naval and aerial patrols in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the eastern Indian Ocean as part of the effort to detect and counter the activities of terrorist groups in the region. The CJTF-FOA used military facilities in Kenya as well as in Djibouti and Ethiopia to launch air and naval strikes against alleged al-Qaeda members involved in the Council of Islamic Courts in Somalia in January and June of 2007.
In addition, the Bush administration has negotiated base access agreements with the government of Kenya—along with the governments of Gabon, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia, Namibia, Sao Tome, Senegal, Uganda, and Zambia—that will allow American troops to use their military facilities (know as Cooperative Security Locations and Forward Operating Sites) whenever the United States wants to deploy its own troops in Africa.
The Bush Administration has built a close military relationship with the government of Mwai Kibaki and has played a central role in the creation of his internal security apparatus, now being deployed with such bloody results throughout Kenya.
The United States, thus, has a direct responsibility for what is going on in Kenya and for bringing it to an end. Jendayi Frazer has certainly surprised many outside the US with her most recent comments, but one can be sure that also has US military priorities in mind when she urges Kenyans to end the violence.
Daniel Volman is Director of the African Security Research Project in Washington, DC, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars. He is a specialist on U.S. military policy toward Africa and African security issues.