Pentagon to Hire Private Contractors to Transport Troops in Africa
Pentagon prepares to contract for privatized flying service to fly US special forces throughout Africa. The contract will be up to $50 million.
The contracts will begin this August. Contractors will be expected to carry out medical evacuations during "high risk activities" as well as transporting equipment and commandos from the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara. The planes will operate within the borders of up to 20 different African countries.
Contracting out not only keeps the US military footprint small, but also helps out private entrepreneurs who have always been well fed by the US taxpayer for these military roles. The contractors will operate out of a military airfield in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. The missions will be across central and northern Africa most likely including Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, and other countries such as Algeria, Cameroon and Nigeria. Possibly missions could include areas that might be hiding places for the notorious warlord Joseph Kony such as the Central African Republic.
Targets will also include Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb to the north and the Islamic terror group Boko Haram in Nigeria. US General David Rodriguez also included on his list of targets al-Shabaab in Somalia.
The solicitation for proposals from contractors notes that “Passengers will possibly travel with personal weapons (small arms) and small amounts of ammunition.” The contractor's must be prepared to operate up to 1,000 flight hours per year up to more than four years. Planes need to be able to carry four patients as well as a medic at one time as well.
The most likely aircraft would be the Casa 212. This plane is used by Academi, formerly known as Blackwater before several rebrandings.An industry representative suggested that only that plane would qualify for service and asked the government what plane would be required. The Pentagon suggested the inquirer file a Freedom of Information act request with the Counter Narcoterrorism Program Office or CNTPO.
This group has doled out billions in counter-drug and counter-terrorism contracts for a number of years. However, the US Africa Command has also hired private contractors for spy duties under a program called Creek Sand. This is all part of ongoing efforts to carry out extensive operations in Africa mostly hidden from public view that will leave a small military footprint. Another important operations center in Africa is inCamp Mounier in Djibiouti which is being expanded so that it can carry out more activities including more drone launches.