Mapped: The U.S. military’s presence in Africa

Mapped: The U.S. military’s presence in Africa

View U.S. military presence in Africa in a larger map

The United States may be deploying 10 have a handfull of troops helping the French in Mali, but that’s just a drop in the bucket of the U.S. military’s presence in Africa, which has been quietly building for the last decade. You’ve probably heard about the 2,000-troop hub at Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, and the 100 special operators hunting Joseph Kony. But less is known about the handful of U.S. drone bases scattered across the continent and the dozens of exercises involving hundreds, if not thousands, of American troops (Click the placemarks on the map above for a quick description of what U.S. troops are doing in each country.)

A quick look at exercises and other activities conducted by U.S. Africa Command this spring alone reveals a U.S. military presence in more than a dozen countries — from Cape Verde in the West to the Seychelles in the East and Morocco in the North. These exercises have shared medical techniques with the Nigerian military, provided intelligence training in Congo, trained special operators in Cameroon, and even included an East African Special Operations Conference in Zanzibar.

Just look at the U.S. Army’s page on Africa to find even more examples of soldiers deploying to Africa.

In 2012, Africa Command planned 14 major exercises with African militaries, according to the command’s website. Meanwhile, the Foreign Military Financing program gave African militaries $45 million to buy American-made weapons in 2011. Tunisia received the most cash ($17 million), followed by Morocco ($9 million) and Liberia ($7 million).

Let’s take a close-up look at the eight reported U.S. drone bases scattered across equatorial Africa that are depicted on this map.

1) First up is Camp Lemmonier, which houses thousands of U.S. personnel and has — according to satellite imagery — also hosted everything from F-15E Strike Eagle bombers and C-130 cargo planes, to PC-12 special ops planes and MQ-1 Predator or MQ-9 Reaper UAVS.

View Larger Map


2) Next is the U.S. Indian Ocean drone base in the Seychelles that’s used to hunt Somali pirates and other seaborne ne’er do wells. You can clearly see a tan-colored "clamshell" tent on the northwest end of the runway — a common indicator of a U.S. military presence at an airstrip.

View Larger Map


3) Speaking of clamshell tents, this Bing map shows several at what appears to be a fairly large and newly constructed facility near the old terminal at Entebbe Airport on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda. The old terminal at Entebbe is famous as the site of the Israeli commando raid that freed hundreds of passengers from a hijacked Air France flight in 1976.