And Why They Matter to Us
Major Tommy Waller
Why Africa Matters to us
• Resources / Access / Allies
• The Magreb
• The Sahel
• Sub-Saharan Africa
• Islamization / Discrimination
• Ancestry / How they live
• Their influence on the region
• Tuareg & AQIM
• Rebellion and Independence
WIIFM?: How all this affects our Operations
• OIF & OEF Afghanistan to OEF-TS
• Partnerships / Mil2Mil / Theater Security Cooperation
• Who gets future missions?
Why Africa Matters
• 53 Countries! N/S >5000mi; E/W >4600mi
• Resources / Access / Allies
• Rare elements (uranium etc.)
• Europe (former colonial powers)
US Needs Allies
• Friends don’t host terrorists
• Reducing illicit trafficking (drugs/humans)
US Needs Access
• Ports and Airfields
• Corporate Access
The Maghreb is usually defined as
much or most of the region of
Northwest Africa, west of Egypt.
The term “maghrib” is in origin an
Arabic word for "west, occident",
denoting the westernmost territories
that fell to the Islamic conquests of the
Maghrebis are largely composed of
Berber and Arab descent with
European and Sub-Saharan elements
– Mostly Africans as traders or slaves
coming from the Sahel region.
- The Maghreb was inhabited and ruled by the Phoenicians, then the
Carthaginians, then the Romans, then the Vandals, then the Byzantine, then
the Berbers, and finally the Arabs, who finally secured control over the entire
region by 700 AD.
- Morocco was the first country to recognize the US
- The Sahel states were limited from
expanding south into the forest
zone of the Ashanti and Yoruba as
mounted warriors were all but
useless in the forests and the
horses and camels could not
survive the heat and diseases of
The Sahel is the transitional zone
between the Sahara and the tropical
savanna (the Sudan region) and
forest-savanna mosaic to the south,
having a semi-arid climate.
The Sahelian kingdoms were a series
of monarchies centered in the Sahel,
between the 9th and 18th centuries.
Their wealth of the states came
from controlling the Trans-Saharan
trade routes across the desert,
especially the slave trade with the
Their power came from having large
pack animals like camels and horses
that were fast enough to keep a
large empire under central control
and were also useful in battle.
Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically, the area
of the continent of Africa that lies south of the
Sahara. Politically, it consists of all African
countries that are fully or partially located south
of the Sahara (excluding Sudan). It contrasts
with North Africa, which is considered a part
of the Arab world.
Somalia, Djibouti, Comoros and Mauritania are
geographically part of Sub-Saharan Africa, but
also part of the Arab world.
Youth make up 36.9% of the working-age population, but 59.5% of the total unemployed, which is much higher than
the world‟s average for 2005 (43.7%).
For the period 2000–06, Seychelles had the highest adult literacy rate (92%); Mali and Burkina Faso had the lowest
South Africa has 84 mobile phones per 100 people; Ethiopia has 1 per 100 people.
In Liberia, almost no one has internet access (0.03 per 100); there are 34 in every 100 people in Seychelles.
In Sierra Leone nearly three children in ten die before the age of five (270 per 1,000 live births); in the Seychelles, the
rate is 13 per 1,000. (MDG 4, IDA 2).
North African Resources
• Although most of the
are poor, there are
rich natural resources
to be found under the
• Algeria has abundant
oil and gas reserves
• Niger has one of the
which power France's
• Mali is Africa's third
The Berber People
Who are the Berbers?
The Berber identity is usually wider than language and
ethnicity, and encompasses the entire history and
geography of North Africa.
Berbers are not a homogeneous ethnic group and they
encompass a range of phenotypes, cultures and
The unifying forces for the Berber people could be their
Berber language, belonging to the Berber homeland, or a
collective identification with the Berber heritage and history.
4. The Berber-speakers established their own cities in the Sahara, and named
nearly every landmark in it. Though stereotyped in the West as nomads, most
Berbers were in fact traditionally farmers, living in mountains relatively close to the
Mediterranean coast, or oasis dwellers; but some, such as the Tuareg and
Zenaga of the southern Sahara were almost wholly nomadic.
The Berber People
The first Arab military expeditions into the Maghreb, between 642 and
669, resulted in the spread of Islam
Unlike the conquests of previous religions and cultures, the coming of
Islam, was to have pervasive and long-lasting effects on the
Maghreb. The new faith, in its various forms, would penetrate nearly all
segments of Berber society.
Nonetheless, the Islamization and Arabization of the region was a
complicated and lengthy process. Whereas nomadic Berbers were
quick to convert and assist the Arab conquerors, it was not until the
12th century, under the Almohad Dynasty, that the Christian, Jewish, and
animist communities of the Maghreb became marginalized.
The spread of Islam among the Berbers did not guarantee their
support for the Arab-dominated caliphate due to the discriminatory
attitude of the Arabs. The ruling Arabs alienated the Berbers by taxing
them heavily; treating converts as second-class Muslims; and, worst of
all, by enslaving them.
Berbers are Muslim, but many of them generally consider their Berber
identity as important or greater than their Islamic identity.
The Berber People
“He never allowed us to speak
our language, he never allowed
us to speak freely in the media
or anywhere. He doesn’t allow
us to give our children Berber
“Only a democratic regime
would secure the rights of the
estimated half million Berbers
living in the Nefusa mountains.”
- Sifao, Lybian Berber quoted
during the rebellion in Apr 2011
Berbers have been discriminated against heavily by
In Morocco, the Amazigh, commonly known as
Berbers, were Morocco's first inhabitants and still
account for about 60% of the country's nearly 32
million citizens. But Amazigh activists say they are
treated like a minority by members of the
dominant Arab culture.
In Libya, the regime of Muammar Gaddafi banned
the teaching of Berber languages, and the dictator
warned Berber leaders "You can call yourselves
whatever you want inside your homes – Berbers,
Children of Satan, whatever – but you are only
Libyans when you leave your homes.“
As a result of the persecution suffered under
Gaddafi's rule, many Berbers joined the Libyan
opposition in the 2011 Libyan civil war.
Unfortunately, the Berbers will likely continue to suffer
under North African regimes practicing Sharia law. 10
Tuaregs are a subculture of the Berbers and like other
Saharan peoples, including the indigenous African peoples who
formed the basis of ancient Egyptian society, describe
themselves as "the red people," in contrast to other Africans
who are "white" or "black."
They are known as the "Blue Men," for their indigo-dyed
garments which leave dark blue pigment on their skins, and as
the "Knights of the Sahara" for their generosity, desert
hospitality and respect for women. (according to themselves)
3. The ancient ancestors of the Tuaregs lived west of the Nile Delta; they traded with
the Egyptians, and several of their leaders ruled pharaonic Egypt for over 200
4. The Tuareg homeland today is in the Central Sahara, where they have lived for
several thousand years since their ancestors began migrating from the northern
Sahara following colonization of coastal North Africa by the Phoenicians,
Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Arabs.
5. About 100 years ago, the Tuareg people were divided up into separate
countries, under separate administrative governments and artificial national
boundaries established by French colonizers.
Where and How They Live Now
1. The Tuaregs are currently the principal inhabitants of the
Saharan interior of North Africa.
2. Most Tuaregs live in the Saharan parts of Niger, Mali, and
Algeria. Being nomadic, they move constantly across
national borders, and small groups of Tuareg are also found
in southeastern Algeria, southwestern Libya and northern
Burkina Faso, and a small community in northern Nigeria.
3. Tuaregs occupy the largest non administered area of the world – so they
almost pass as a form of government in this inhospitable area.
4. Historically, the Tuaregs have been fierce fighters with an unmatched
knowledge of the Sahara and how to wage war within it.
5. These traits make them desirable to co-opt by regimes and organizations who
need fighters to control territories or spread influence.
6. For example, the same Muammar Gaddafi who discriminated against Berbers in
general recognized the Tuaregs as determined and resourceful fighters. He
promoted thousands of them in the Libyan army and encouraged them to be
loyal to him.
1. For decades Qaddafi recruited the Tuareg
to serve in his military. In the early 1980s he
called them to join his Islamic Legion, which
he styled as the military cornerstone for his
dream of building a united Muslim state in
2. After ill-fated military adventures in Lebanon, Chad, and Sudan, he disbanded the
legion and invited the Tuareg to join special brigades within the Libyan army.
3. In recent decades, various Tuareg rebel groups, many of them trained in these
Libyan units, have fought in neighboring Mali and Niger. After each of these
conflicts was settled, Qaddafi provided aid and shelter to the rebel leaders and
many of their former combatants.
4. Many Tuareg fought on the Gaddafi side in the civil war in Libya last year.
Fighters were offered up to $1000 per day and those who didn’t want to fight were
pressed into service.
5. For all the mention of the “peaceful / patient” lifestyle from their supporters, the
truth is that the Tuareg fought alongside (and in come cases participated) Arab
Islamists in the wholesale slaughtering of Libyan civilian protesters.
1. The Tuaregs have been long-time
opponents of Mali President Amadou
Toumani Toure’s government, complaining
that the central government located in
the southern capital city of Bamako has
ignored the Tuareg in the country’s
2. As thousands of Tuareg people
returned to Mali and Niger after
Gaddafi‟s death, well armed but empty
4. From January through April, MNLA
handed, coupled with the expedient timing
seized military control of the three
of internal Tuareg politics, it was an
regions of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu,
opportune time to launch a new
with intentions to form an
campaign to assert the autonomy of the
independent state for the Azawad.
5. Allegations were made by the Mali
3. In January 2012, the Tuareg rebel group,
government that the MLNA had allied
the National Movement for the
with Ansar Dine and AQIM – who want Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) began a
to spread Sharia rule.
rebellion against Toure’s government. 14
The Tuareg and AQIM
Islamist Efforts to Co-Opt
1. Most Tuaregs are Muslim by convenience, but do not
subscribe to true Sharia law. However, because they live
unfettered by North African states and in an ungoverned
land, they are an attractive target to be co-opted by
Islamists, namely Al Queda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM).
2. Over the past year there has been much concern that
AQIM would ally with the Tuareg and strengthen their
influence throughout the Magreb and create a sanctuary
for terrorist activity and violent spread of Sharia.
Mistreatment of the Tuareg by the Malian Govt and military initially led to some
Tuaregs aligning with the Islamists they fought alongside in Libya.
In February 2012 a Mali Government commission reported the killing of
government soldiers by AQIM combatants collaborating with MNLA. The report is
strongly denied by MNLA.
In March 2012 rebels gained control of Kidal, capital of Mali’s northernmost region
and witnesses confirmed presence of both MNLA and Ansar Dine.
In April 2012, the MLNA declared a cease fire, but was about to be pushed
aside by better-armed Islamist groups, ceding Timbuktu to Ansar Dine which has
different objectives from the MNLA and seeks to impose Sharia law in Mali. 15
The Tuareg Rebellion
The last 10 months
May 2012 - The Tuareg MNLA and Islamist Ansar
Dine rebel groups declare northern Mali to be an
Islamic state. Ansar Dine begins to impose Islamic law
in Timbuktu. Al-Qaeda in North Africa endorses the
• June - July 2012 - Ansar Dine and its Al-Qaeda allies
turn on the MNLA and capture the main northern cities
of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao. They begin to destroy
many Muslim shrines that offend their puritan views.
Autumn-Winter 2012 - Northern Islamist rebels consolidate their hold on the north
and move into central Mali and closer to the government-held south-west.
November 2012 - The West African regional grouping ECOWAS agrees to a
coordinated military expedition to recapture the north, with UN and African Union
backing. Preparations are expected to take several months.
January 2013 - Islamist fighters capture the central town of Konna and plan to
march on the capital. President Traore asks France for help. French troops
rapidly capture Gao and Timbuktu and at the end of the month enter Kidal, the
last major rebel-held town. European countries pledge to help retrain the
The Tuareg, Mali & France
1. The MNLA, re-aligned with the Malian and
French military, regained control of its northern
stronghold of Kidal in spring 2012 when Islamist
fighters fled French air strikes into hideouts in
the nearby desert and rugged Adrar des Ifoghas
2. Residents of the ancient caravan town of Timbuktu were thankful for their
liberation from Islamists, who had handed down punishments including
whipping and amputation for breaking sharia. Islamists also smashed sacred Sufi
mausoleums and destroyed or stole some 2,000 ancient manuscripts at the South
African-sponsored Baba Ahmed Institute, causing international outcry.
3. Many secular Tuaregs have stated they are willing to help the French-led
mission by hunting down Islamists and have offered to hold peace talks
with the government in a bid to heal wounds between Mali's restive Saharan
north and the black African-dominated south.
4. By March 2012 France says military intervention will be scaled down in April
after apparent deaths of main Islamist commanders.
The Tuareg, Mali & the US
1. As the West wrestles with what to do next in Mali, a potential militant base for
launching terror strikes across the region and possibly beyond, some experts
say the U.S. needs to change course by putting less emphasis on a strategy that
relies on the Malian army to do the heavy lifting.
2. Instead, more should be done to bolster the standing of secular Tuaregs in the
north, the key stakeholder in a region now dominated by Islamic militants such as
al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
3. In January 2013, Rudolph Atallah,
former Africa counterterrorism director for
the Defense Intelligence Agency, said :
“The Malian army, which sees the
Tuaregs as its primary enemy, should be
kept out of the north entirely” … “the army’s
history of heavy-handedness in dealing with
ethnic groups in the north could drive
potential allies into enemy hands.”
1. More than a year ago, in February 2012, Tuareg leader Ibrahim Ag Bahanga
Mahmoud Ag Agali conducted an interview published in an Algerian newspaper
“Echourouk” titled: “The Asawad Movement: „Grant us independence and we
will destroy Al-Qa‟idah in Mali.‟”
2. In this interview the leader stated, “I assure you that we have nothing to do
with Al-Qa‟idah, we are not drug smugglers and we are not gangsters.”
“Give us independence and you will see the end of Al-Qa’idah, the abduction of
Westerners and the smuggling of drugs in Mali.”
3. Although they’ve been fighting for it for decades, the Tuareg‟s current bid for
independence may receive more international support because of the desire
of nations involved in counter terrorism to recognize the opportunity to use this
support for Azawad independence as another means of limiting Islamist influence
in the region.
4. The government of Mali may also be more willing to negotiate
independence for the Tuaregs because it clearly is unable to defend against a
combined Azawad / Islamist rebellion.
5. For US DOS and DOD planners, the question remains – how do you keep the
alliance of the government of Mali while engaging and supporting the
OEF to OEF-TS
How does this affect our operations?
1. Not only does USDOD policy
forecast a drawdown in
operations in Afghanistan, but AQ
has actively migrated west in a
way that makes Northern Africa
another future battleground.
2. With the area of AQIM influence
roughly reflecting the same
borders as the Tuareg population,
one can quickly deduce the
importance of the Tuareg in any
future conflict against AQIM.
3. With the above map being
generated by ICTS in January
2012, it is a more optimistic
depiction of the AO than the
current reality, with Libya, Egypt,
and Syria in the midst of Islamist
So what are we doing?
What kind of M2M / TSC?
Partnerships / M2M
1. APS-13 (30+ countries)
2. Contingency Operations
5. Operation Onward Liberty
9. TSC – M2M – Q1 – 3
10. TSC – M2M – Q2 – 8
11. TSC – M2M – Q3 – 15
12. TSC – M2M – Q4 – 18
CT / CNT
VBSS Familiarization Small Boat
NCO / Officer
CI / HUMINT
Aircraft pilot training /
Africa Endeavor (AE 12)
African Lion (AL 12)
Atlas Accord (AA 12)
Eastern Accord (EA 12)
Southern Accord (SA 12)
Western Accord (WA 12)
Western Accord (WA 13)
Africa Endeavor (AE 13)
African Lion (AL 13)
Judicious Response 13-1
Judicious Response 13-2
Southern Accord (SA 13)
in more than
35 countries in
Who gets to play?
Because everyone needs a SASR poster!
Seriously, though…what affects who gets the missions?
What’s his preference?
What units does he have to
Active vs. Reserve!!
Who has a proven record in
What affects operational
Alignment of capabilities
USMC is the smallest!!
Who is closest when needed?
What type of mission?
What does the HN need?
Who is the best to provide it?
Knowledge of the AO
Long War concept & regional
focus for language and
culture…is it getting enough
MARSOC model =
How does the Reserve
Component stay relevant?
- PME, like this!!