New wars in Africa

CIDADE DE PRAIA | | nigeriafrankreichchina

CIDADE DE PRAIA (Own report) - The June 22, German commanded, invasion of an island off the coast of West Africa, marks the last preliminary high point in the major maneuver of the NATO Response Force (NRF), before it passes the final test, proving its full combat readiness. The maneuver takes place in Cape Verde and therefore is the first maneuver that the western war alliance has held on African territory. And Germany is playing a distinguished role: the German general, Gerhard W. Back, is the commander of the maneuver, and the German military (Bundeswehr) is participating with a contingent of approximately 2,100 of the approx. 7,000 soldiers involved. The heads of governments and states would like to officially declare the NRF "combat ready," in November, at their next NATO summit in Riga. Its first envisaged theaters of operations are resource-rich areas of Africa. Since some time, Germany has been a leading competitor for African raw materials.


The maneuver, named "Steadfast Jaguar", which began June 1 and will last until July 12, is to openly demonstrate the NRF's operational capability in out-of-area assignments. All branches of the armed forces are participating, whose coordination has to be optimized in the course of the maneuver. Taking the beachhead and the evacuation of civilians under deadly circumstances ("volcanic eruption") are elements in the maneuvers. The fictitious scenario for the maneuver is that of armed conflicts between rival militias, seeking control over the energy resources. NATO alleges that this context was purely, arbitrarily selected and has no relationship to actual developments. Only a few weeks ago, the western war alliance's Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, (SACEUR), James Jones, emphasized, that NATO must be capable of securing oil tankers as well as oil fields in West Africa. As an example, Jones named the Niger Delta, in Nigeria, where rebellions are commonplace.[1]

Frankfurt, Augsburg, Passau, Rhine

The German Bundeswehr is considerably involved in "Steadfast Jaguar". General Back, the commanding officer of the maneuver, is a former Air Force inspector, who, since 2004, commands the Allied Joint Forces Command in Brunssum. Approx. 1,000 infantry and approx. 500 from the logistics and the medical corps are among the 2,100 combat ready German soldiers - nearly three times the size of the German contingent to the Congo. The German Air Force has sent two C-160 Transall cargo aircraft off-shore from West Africa. The Navy is present with the frigate "Augsburg" and the logistical service handled by the "Frankfurt". Also, as a directly subordinated unit in the standing NATO Response Force mine Countermeasure Group 1 (SNMCMG 1), is the minesweeper corps under the German commander, who commands, not only the German flagship (Tender "Rhine"), but six other warships, including the German minesweeper "Passau".

In five days

From the very beginning, Germany had been extensively contributing to the establishment of the NRF. The composition of the combat units had been decided upon at the NATO summit in Prague, in November 2002. Within only five days, these units are supposed to be deployable to any point on the globe. Up to 25.000 soldiers are expected to, self-sufficiently, operate in the combat area, for an initial period lasting up to 30 days. The NRF was established in several "phases" (NRF 1-6). In each of these, the Bundeswehr participated with between 1.200 and 5.000 soldiers - which was in addition to the simultaneous deployments in South-East Europe, in Afghanistan, off the East African coast etc. The Halle/Leipzig Airport, among others, is designated to serve as a military turnstile, for the NRF's heavy weaponry (helicopter, rockets, tanks). The military use of this airport is in violation of the 4+2-treaty.[2]


The contested resource rich areas, on the African continent, will presumably be the first region for deployment for the NRF, as can be seen by the scenario for "Steadfast Jaguar". The coastal invasion on Cape Verde, being rehearsed last Thursday, was obviously selected on purpose. Already during the originally planned maneuver in Mauritania, the invasion of Cape Verde was an element in the training. This lends credibility to the suspicion, that in fact, the western war alliance keeps a covetous eye on African oil deposits, located near the coast. This is the case of both Nigeria and Angola; and both states are increasingly cooperating with the People's Republic of China. A possible NRF deployment in Darfur, which NATO experts see as probable ("the next big thing"), would also collide with Chinese interests.[3] In Sudan the combat is continuing between pro-government militias and several rebel armies. If Khartoum continues to lose ground in this conflict, it is possible, that the Sudanese government could completely lose control over its resources. This would also be contrary to the interests of the People's Republic of China, which is cooperating with the Sudanese central government, for the exploitation of the raw materials.[4]


The fact that the maneuver could not be carried out in Mauritania, is an indication of the inner-western rivalries over influence in Africa. Mauritania is within the French sphere of influence ("Francophonia"), which is why Paris prevented a NATO war exercise from taking place. For Francophonia, France appears in favor of EU military operations - which can be seen by the current EU deployment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as, by allowing the stationing of German troops at French military bases in Gabon. Germany benefits from the French-American rivalry, that has surfaced here, because Germany is considerably involved in both the NRF and in its European counterpart, the EU Battle Groups. Both options are open to Berlin - placing a heavy load on its own army.

[1] Nato set to flex muscles in Cape Verde exercise; Mail and Guardian Online 21.06.2006
[2] Lesen Sie dazu unser EXTRA-Dossier Drehkreuz Leipzig
[3] Brüssel gönnt Berlin keine Atempause; Handelsblatt 02.06.2006
[4] Please read also Nucleus of a Germ, Ein krimineller Plan, Mr. Horst Koehler, Managing Director and Governance Aspects