U.S. forces head to Ivory Coast
September 24, 2002 10:23 AM   Subscribe

U.S. forces head to Ivory Coast - with all the debate for/against military action in the middle-east, I'm pleased to see US forces being deployed to protect innocent people. "Their first task may be to retrieve about 100 American children who have been trapped at a school in the city of Bouake for five days and to protect Americans in three or four Ivory Coast towns held by rebels. "
posted by Stuart_R (28 comments total)
Suuuuuuuuuure, that's where they're going.
posted by interrobang at 10:36 AM on September 24, 2002

Good god, the US Military really is everywhere, thanks for the link Stuart.

Just for kicks last week, I did some research and put together this page of overseas permanent/semipermanent US Military facilities. The facilities range from massive bases to simple refeuling depots. It's all from easily accessible sources, and I'm sure it's incomplete, but still the exercise opened my eyes a bit.

If you want the summary: 216 US military facilities exist on foreign soil (out of 700+ worldwide facilities), places in over 40 nations (Germany and Japan combined host over 100 US facilities), plus the 400 ships of the US Navy (including 12 aircraft carriers). This also does not include troops deployed in temporary situations in places like Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Yemen, and now the Ivory Coast.

I'm no military expert, and could be wrong on this reckoning, but I think I'm in the ballpark. Anyone else know of deployments/positions elsewhere?
posted by kokogiak at 10:59 AM on September 24, 2002

April, 1994. Millions of Rwandans are threatened by fanatical genocidaires and their youth militia, the Interahamwe. (trans: "Those who kill together.) Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright's reaction? Deny, deny, deny a genocide is in progress to avoid having to put American troops in harm's way. Result? Over 750,000 killed.

Sept, 2002. A couple of hundred schoolkids are in the middle of a sputtering military coup in the Cote d'Ivoire. They're lucky: They're American (and probably mostly white.) Result: A couple hundred American special forces, armed to the teeth, ride to the rescue.

Sure, the latter action is maybe more clearly in the American national interest, but it sure makes Pres. Dubya's assertion at the UN last week that his military action was for the best interests of humanity taste like ashes.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:31 AM on September 24, 2002

War within wars, skirmishes, the liberation of a people.

Throughout this, remember: recession.
posted by the fire you left me at 11:42 AM on September 24, 2002

lupus_yonderboy: So you compared the actions of one president to another and therefore claim that the intentions of the latter are bogus?
posted by Witty at 11:44 AM on September 24, 2002

US Military Installations Map
posted by Mondo at 11:53 AM on September 24, 2002

posted by Mondo at 11:55 AM on September 24, 2002

There is a problem with a state using its armed forces to protect its citizens? That's what they're there for. Best interests of humanity is icing on the cake.
posted by mcwetboy at 11:56 AM on September 24, 2002

Thanks for the map Mondo. Even more widespread than I figured. Based on that map though, I wonder - what the Hell do we have troops in China for? (I guess the same question could be applied to any of the other 155 countries). Also, I wonder how this compares to global deployment of Russian, UK and Chinese military.
posted by kokogiak at 12:00 PM on September 24, 2002

That the Presidents are different makes the comparison all the more cruel. Pres. Clinton promised that his would be an administration of multilateralism and int'l cooperation. Yet when the time came, he balked.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:11 PM on September 24, 2002

Mondo and Mcwetboy: The bulk of those countries that show a troop disposition (like China) are simply accounting for the Marine Corps Guard at embassies and liason officers (ie, embassy officials.) So the US troops in China and similar countries are most likely a handful of guards and people working desk jobs to try to prevent misunderstandings.

And whatever your feelings about Rwanda (it was an undeniable tragedy that we did not intervene) this situation is completely and utterly different.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:20 PM on September 24, 2002

Thanks, kokogiak; I've been working intermittently on such a list but have had trouble finding information. The .mil sites are remarkably unhelpful.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:23 PM on September 24, 2002

I also don't see a problem with troops being deployed to protect their own citizens. That's their job. As a Canadian, I only wish I could expect that level of protection if I were in the same situation. But that's a whole 'nother debate.
posted by Salmonberry at 12:30 PM on September 24, 2002

"For now, the question is if the French troops can do something for the American children," said French Col. Charles de Kersabiec. "For now, only direct violence against the children means we can act. We are following the situation, and we are sensitive to that."

So not until they are actually harmed, then they can protect them? (what I take from the article & last nights news were saying the French military would rescue them) Where is superman?

A couple hundred American special forces, armed to the teeth, ride to the rescue.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:32 PM on September 24, 2002

Sophisticated Metafi readers aren't fooled. It's all about the oil, don't you know....
posted by mojohand at 12:39 PM on September 24, 2002

What an extraordinary coincidence... just in the middle of the Gulf of Guinea...

Africa, the neglected stepchild of American diplomacy, is rising in strategic importance to Washington policy makers, and one word sums up the reason: oil.

Africa already provides about 15 percent of the United States' crude oil imports, but its share is expected to grow rapidly from new production in West Africa and construction of a pipeline linking southern Chad to Atlantic ports.
posted by AlgernonBis at 12:40 PM on September 24, 2002

Everyone lay off the conspiracy theories, it demeans you all. The US deploys forces overseas all the time to secure US and foreign nationals. Happend over 200 times in the 1990s. This is just making headlines right now because of the global conflict.

Plus, lefties in the crowd should be pleased about a US deployment that might help restore stability and the rule of law to the Ivory Coast: remember, the attempted coup is being launched against a recognized, effective, and responsible government.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:50 PM on September 24, 2002

Fom the CIA World Fact Book quoted by AlgernonBis

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, manganese, iron ore, cobalt, bauxite, copper, hydropower

An extraordinary coincidence indeed.

The US deploys forces overseas all the time to secure US and foreign nationals. Happend over 200 times in the 1990s ... lefties in the crowd should be pleased about a US deployment that might help restore stability and the rule of law to the Ivory Coast

Mind telling me in which 200 countries did the U.S. help restore stability and the rule of law?

remember, the attempted coup is being launched against a recognized, effective, and responsible government.

Reminds me of ... Florida!
posted by magullo at 12:58 PM on September 24, 2002

Magullo, I didn't say it helped restore rule of law or stability. I said that it used forces to protect internationals (westerners) in over 200 incidents in the 1990s. There's a difference.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:09 PM on September 24, 2002

Plus, if EVERYTHING that happened in the world right now is about oil, and if that was all the gov cared about, why don't you see US troops here?
posted by pjgulliver at 1:15 PM on September 24, 2002

Because they're wearing camouflage...
posted by Fabulon7 at 1:26 PM on September 24, 2002

Or here. You are right, pjgulliver, oil is not everything. But it seems that is becoming more and more important after 911; it looks like the US government is looking for an alternative for the saudi oil. Seems farfetched, I know, but they are pressing for Irak, the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline is being build, West Africa is suddenly important and even Venezuela is worth talking with.
And this scares me...
posted by AlgernonBis at 1:36 PM on September 24, 2002

The Federation of American Scientists has catalogued nearly two hundred, previous military incursions since 1945 initiated by the U.S.
posted by Red58 at 1:49 PM on September 24, 2002

Military World's Department of Defense Almanac has more info on budget, deployment, and personnel up to the year 2000. Their reference desk may come in handy for some people.

Many nations send in troops to protect their citizens during turmoil. Most of them aren't provocations or excuses to launch an attack like Grenada under Reagan. I remember his attempt to protect our precious nutmeg supply. FWIW, I think this is a good faith effort even though the US is clearly trying to diversify its sources of oil imports.

posted by infowar at 2:14 PM on September 24, 2002

Since my nephew is stuck there (no, not at the afore mentioned school but still there), I'm glad to see our troops heading to the Ivory Coast to protect US citizens. Maybe they can even help out a Canadian or two if needed.
posted by Plunge at 7:48 PM on September 24, 2002

French troops to le rescue!
posted by dagny at 12:35 AM on September 25, 2002

kokogiak, you may want to compare notes (as well as this source for the second map). For my part, I immediately noticed you hadn't accounted for either Prince Sultan Air Base, S.A. or Al-Udeid, Qatar, which are the former and future locations of the US Central Command forward headquarters, respectively. Also, you may want to asterisk American Samoa, Guam and Puerto Rico to indicate that you're aware those are US dependencies. Oh, and Dhahran is a city in Saudi; and England was, last I checked, within the United Kingdom. Perhaps it's a dependency too.

The bulk of US forces abroad are concentrated in a few key locations dating back through the Cold War to WWII, such as Germany, Italy, and Britain (all NATO members), Japan, South Korea, smaller contingents throughout NATO, and a smattering of key airbases and ports, ranging from Turkey's Incirlik to the UK's Diego Garcia. Most deployments are small and either technical, diplomatic, or some kind of military liaison, which allows us to build trust and confidence with other nations' militaries. A number of them probably relate to naval refueling rights (more important in an era of fewer overseas bases); others to intelligence. The US contingent in China, for instance, seems to be largely a legacy consular office in Hong Kong maintained for close relations with the British -- and for keeping a close eye on China. It's a little overloaded to say that the US has "bases" in all these countries -- certainly even many of the facilities we do have are leased or quid pro quo facilities that are not sovereign territory, although even that can go far (q.v. Incirlik), but facilities shared with the host military, where they can keep a close eye on us. They don't necessarily represent active US power projection, but rather a latent capability. Note that the 200 guys going to the Ivory Coast had to be flown in from Europe; and 200 guys aren't going to be able to do much more than provide cover fire as we exit as gracefully as possible. US doctrine is ostensibly transforming toward a military which is more mobile and aggressive regarding threats as opposed to static and defensive. This calls for flexible basing.

Red58, many of those "military incursions" were hardly deserving of the name. Take 1981's Bright Star (which I selected almost at random). Sadat was shot dead (arm's reach from our own diplomatic contingent); we moved some ships near Egypt that were already elsewhere in "the Med", and held them on station off the coast until it was clear that the Egyptian government had not fallen into chaos. Whoop. Imperialism a go-go!
posted by dhartung at 1:44 AM on September 25, 2002

Thanks for the critical eye dhartung. I think I covered my ass somewhat by saying I wasn't an expert and was trying to get a good layman's idea of what was out there. Also, yes I am aware of the Amercan dependencies, and should have been clearer in saying I was trying to make a list of US bases outside of the US (including AK and HI). And now I know Dharan is a city, not a country. The UK/England issue was more a matter of where I got the source material, some listed the main base (for satellite facilities) as being in the UK, others said England (Just as some said bases were in Okinawa, others Japan). Both correct, one more specific than another.

As for your links, thanks for those - the first one is indeed exhaustive, (though a bit dense, as in - I'd have no idea what the difference is between AETC AFMC AFSPC and AFSOC). The point of my exercise wasn't precision, it was more "wow - we really have a lot of facilities out there in the world, don't we."
posted by kokogiak at 11:24 AM on September 25, 2002

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