U.S. Security Assistance to Africa Snapshot for U.S.-Africa Summit

In connection with this week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the United States is planning to speak with African leaders about how to “build their capacity to respond to security challenges on the continent,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a briefing last week. Some of the discussion will likely take place during the Peace and Regional Stability session on Wednesday afternoon.

According to the Obama Administration’s congressional budget request for FY 2015, “the promotion of peace and security remains one of the United States’ highest priorities” in Sub-Saharan Africa. The United States plans to focus on “conflict prevention and mitigation, stabilization operations, security sector reform, peacekeeping operations, targeted counterterrorism, counter-narcotics initiatives, and maritime safety and security programs.”

The State Department requested a total of $338 million in security assistance to the Africa subcontinent for FY 2015, which is a 38 percent decrease (from $498 million to $338 million) in State Department-led security assistance compared to FY 2012. The largest decrease is to peacekeeping efforts, particularly for Somalia. From FY 2008 to FY 2012, the top five U.S. recipients of such security assistance were in order:  Somalia, Sudan/South Sudan, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya.

Early last week, Kenyan media sources reported that the Kenyan Ambassador Amina Mohamd plans to discuss with the Obama Administration U.S. support “in stabilizing neighbouring countries like Somalia and South Sudan.” The Kenyans also want to discuss the “continued sharing of intelligence, capacity building, provision of technology and equipment” in connection with terrorism.

While State-Department-led security assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa is decreasing, Defense Department-funded military assistance, which is largely focused on counterterrorism and stabilization operations, is on the rise.  In the past four years, for instance, there has been a significant increase in DoD military assistance under Section 1206 of the National Defense Authorization Act, to Sub-Saharan Africa, from $25 million in FY 2010 to $105 million in FY 2014.  

Given increased U.S. concerns about violent Islamic extremists in West Africa, particularly AQIM and Boko Haram, the Pentagon’s Section 1206 funding to Sub-Saharan Africa is increasingly going to West Africa. For this year, for example, Niger is slated to receive $39.5 million for a counterterrorism battalion and aircraft and drone capability.  As part of the President’s new Counter Terrorism Partnership Fund, the Pentagon is also requesting $200 million in U.S. security assistance to North and West Africa for FY 2015.

Although combined State and Defense Department security assistance to Africa from FY 2002 to FY 2012 shows increasing assistance to West and North Africa, East Africa has received the most U.S. security assistance among all other African sub-regions.  The chart to the right excludes U.S. security assistance to Egypt.  U.S. security assistance to both Southern and Central Africa has been decreasing in the past few years.

The President of Cameroon’s, Paul Biya, announcement on Saturday that “he was sending more troops and military supplies” to the Cameroon/Nigeria border area to deal with Boko Haram, however, may change the trend for Central Africa. Boko Haram has reportedly “carried out a series of attacks against Cameroonian civilians and the military”. The State Department only requested $240,000 in U.S. security assistance to the country for FY 2015.