February 12, 2014
Pham on Battling al-Qaeda in Africa
Military commanders such as Benedict, Amos and their French counterparts must now evaluate whether they’re doing enough to countermand the growing al-Qaida presence.The piece also mentions the event A New US Crisis Response Force for Africa, featuring Colonel Scott Benedict:
“I don’t think we’re there yet. We’re in the initial phases of standing these [forces] up,” says J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Program and regular adviser to the White House, Congress and the U.N.
Deterrence does not come from simply existing, Pham says. Nuclear deterrence during the Cold War only worked because the world had witnessed the awesome power of America’s arsenals at Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
For the U.S. and French forces in Africa, it’s largely “an abstract,” he says, “given how we’ve gone hot and cold, especially in Africa over recent years, from commitment to lack of commitment and back again.”
U.S. News spoke with Benedict after he gave remarks at the Atlantic Council on Monday about the unit’s latest activities. He shied away from specific questions about how the specialized and highly mobile unit would act if insurgents attacked another facility like they did in Benghazi. The MAGTF is simply performing the same work Marine shock troops and first responders have been executing for decades, Benedict said.
But he did say its presence also acts as a deterrent. This represents what the military calls the "New Normal," focusing on training allies and reinforcing assets such as embassies, instead of relying on the military acting alone in the face of crisis.