Date: Fri, 8 Nov 96 23:44:41 CST
From: (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: U.S. Steps Up Efforts to Recruit Africa Force
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <>

/** headlines: 115.0 **/
** Topic: U.S. Steps Up Efforts to Recruit Africa Force **
** Written 7:20 PM Nov 4, 1996 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 5:56 PM Nov 1, 1996 by in africa.nigeria */
/* ---------- AFRICA-U.S.: U.S. Steps Up Efforts ---------- */

From: Babatunde Harrison <>
Subject: AFRICA-U.S.: U.S. Steps Up Efforts to Recruit Africa Force

/* Written 3:31 PM Oct 31, 1996 by newsdesk in igc:ips.english */
/* ---------- AFRICA-U.S.: U.S. Steps Up Efforts ---------- */

U.S. Steps Up Efforts to Recruit Africa Force

IPS, 28 October 1996

WASHINGTON, Oct 28 (IPS)—Amid reports of growing chaos in eastern Zaire, the United States has stepped up its efforts to gain international backing for the creation of an all-African Crisis Response Force (ACRF).

A U.S. delegation met last week with senior United Nations officials in New York and Africa's diplomatic corps both at the United Nations and in Washington to brief them about the plans.

A senior U.S. official says it could take as little as four months to get a force of up to 10,000 troops up and running. But the official says that depends on how quickly the African nations commit troops to the force and how forthcoming European and other donors are in providing the project with as much as the 40 million dollars needed to train and equip it.

The administration of President Bill Clinton has promised to pay its fair share, which it defines as something less than half. So far, 10 industrialised countries have indicated their agreement in principle to supporting the force, according to one senior official who asked not to be identified.

It's going to have to go back and forth a lot, he says, adding that initial European scepticism about the proposal has begun to dissipate with the Africans on board now.

So far, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Mali, and two other African nations, which have so far not announced their decisions publicly, have pledged to commit troops to the force. Warren Christopher visited all of those nations except Ghana earlier this month in what was the first extended visit to Africa by a sitting U.S. secretary of State in almost 10 years.

Washington hopes that South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Senegal and Botswana will also respond favourably to U.S. requests for troop commitments.

South African President Nelson Mandela, with whom Christopher also met during his trip, reportedly endorsed the force in principle but has balked at giving it a warm public embrace due to concern that it is still perceived primarily as a U.S. initiative and not an African one.

We've heard more from the South Africans (since Christopher returned), says the senior U.S. official, and we have since talked with them at a more detailed level.

The official says African and European concerns regarding the ownership of the force once it is created have been substantially allayed.

Some countries, notably France, have questioned Washington's motivations, apparently worried that the United States intends to use the force to pursue its own policy interests in the region. France, which has its own troops stationed in four West African nations, has not hesitated to intervene on its own in Africa.

Officials here insist the French have nothing about which to be concerned. In Washington's view, the U.N. Security Council should decide when and how the force should be deployed. Such deployments, in that view, would be funded the same way as other U.N. peacekeeping operations.

In the next two weeks, Washington will consult with those governments which have committed troops regarding their technical capabilities and needs. It will then move on to identify what training and equipment will be required.

Officials here stress that the ACRF will not be a standing force with a specific headquarters. Rather, it will consist of contingents within existing national armies which will be specially trained and equipped for peacekeeping duties and can then be mustered together quickly for assignments. U.S. planners would also like to see these units carry out joint training exercises together.

Because ACRF will be used only in situations where the combatants have agreed to their deployment, U.S. officials do not believe it will have to be heavily armed.

This is not an operation designed to give arms to armies, says one official, who adds that the biggest challenges will lie in upgrading communications abilities and training, particularly with a force whose components will speak different languages.

U.S. officials strongly deny that the creation of the force is designed to ease Western consciences about not contributing soldiers to peacekeeping efforts in Africa, as some critics have charged.

Washington, for example, has refused to commit ground troops to peacekeeping operations in Africa since its disastrous 1992-93 foray into Somalia. Since then, the United States has confined its peacekeeping work in the region to logistical and financial support.

Insisting that Washington's main motive is to build capacity for peacekeeping among African states, one senior official says the ACRF enhances the likelihood that we will engage because there will be more to work with. The same official said ACRF contingents could be used anywhere by the Security Council—outside as well as in Africa.

Not all African armies will be encouraged to contribute units to the force, stresses the official. We have some very real limits. We will work with those countries where, first and foremost, there's a demonstrated interest in peackeeping, a demonstrated will to do peacekeeping, and where there are militaries that are responsive to civilian authorities.

Other U.S. officials say that rules out Nigeria whic, with U.S. support, has contributed the bulk of peacekeeping forces in Liberia.