U.S.’s Africom trains host nation’s forces to battle terrorism

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The Pentagon refers to these other facilities as “lily pads,” or Cooperative Security Locations and Forward Operating Sites, and has access to a dozen other transit sites around the continent.

Africom has engaged in high-profile operations recently, such as rescuing two international-aid workers from Somali pirates. Last October, about 100 U.S. military advisers were deployed to Uganda to help quash the insurgent group Lord’s Resistance Army. That operation is ongoing.

One of the continent’s biggest threats is regional terrorism.

Al-Shabab, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram and other regional al Qaeda affiliates will surpass the remnants of the “core” al Qaeda in Pakistan in terms of threats to U.S. interests, and seek opportunities to strike Western targets in their operating area, according to the intelligence community’s unclassified statement on its 2012 Worldwide Threat Assessment.

“For the past few years, [al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] has been almost an afterthought when discussing the terrorist threat. This may be about to change,” Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper testified to Congress on Jan. 31. “AQIM, which has traditionally operated in parts of Algeria and Mali, is well-positioned to exploit instability and pockets of extremism in Libya and Nigeria and to create new safe havens.”

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