Preventative Measures

Army Gen. Carter Ham, head of US Africa Command, said last week Congress should consider approving additional authorities for Africa that are similar to “today’s overseas contingency operations authorities” for Afghanistan. However, they should not be as closely tied to al Qaeda, enabling the Defense Department “to address a growing number of violent extremist organizations,” he told members of the House Armed Services Committee on March 15. Today’s threats on the African continent don’t quite “rise to the seriousness that exists with al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan or in Afghanistan,” he said. However, if left unaddressed, they “will grow to an increasingly dangerous and imminent threat to US interests,” said Ham. Already, there have been examples where people from Nigeria have attempted to enter the United States while carrying explosives, he noted. “I think we have an opportunity now to work preventive efforts of concern with African forces and with allies and friends globally to suppress the threat, to reverse the trend, which is increasingly worrisome to me,” said Ham. He noted, however: “I do not believe that a large commitment of US forces is either necessary or appropriate under the current circumstances.” (Ham’s prepared testimony)