Master-at-Arms 1st Class (EXW/SW) Paul N. Francois watches his students from the Gabonese military practice tactical boarding team operations as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ian Carver / Released).

By the time U.S. military forces left Somalia in 1994 after entering the lawless nation more than a year earlier to stop a famine, 44 Army soldiers, Marines and airmen had been killed and dozens more wounded. Thus ended America’s last large-scale military intervention in Africa.

But the U.S. has come back, using special forces advisers, drones and tens of millions of dollars in military aid to combat a growing and multifaceted security threat. This time the United States is playing a less obtrusive role but is focusing once again on Somalia.

While putting few U.S. troops at risk, the United States is also providing intelligence and training to fight militants across the continent, from Mauritania in the west along the Atlantic Ocean, to Somalia in the east along the Indian Ocean.

The Pentagon is paying a lot more attention to Africa than in years past, analysts say. A hardline Islamist group in Nigeria, Boko Haram, bombed the U.N. headquarters in the capital in August, killing 23 people. A Nigerian man tried to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009. The flight was saved only because of a malfunction with explosives the bomber had carried from Lagos, Nigeria. An al-Qaida group known as AQIM that operates in the west and north of Africa kidnaps foreigners, making vast tracts no-go areas.

Source: The Associated Press via

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Master-at-Arms 1st Class (EXW/SW) Paul N. Francois watches his students from the Gabonese military…