Monday, February 18, 2019

Back in Africa: Portugease Edition

It is time to return again to our discussion of Africa.

Time to remind everyone that regardless of how much you may not be interested in Africa's future, Africa's future is very interested in you.

Head on over to the map, Africa is huge.

Size will not be the primary driver of the role she will have this century. It isn't her huge natural resources that is drawing China in that will be the driver either. Nope.

In the background is a topic many don't want to speak too loudly about; Africa has a very long front on the bleeding-edge of Dar al-Islam. That is part of this story, but not the two primary drivers.

This century unless it is managed carefully, Africa it will continue to produce more conflict than can be consumed locally. The causes are clear.

There are two things. First, demographics;

...and the resulting population growth that is on the way.

Second; economics.

As much as I would thoroughly enjoy it, we don't have time for a full seminar of development economics - so I'll give you a back-of-the-napkin summary.

A growing population can only grow its standard of living if its economic growth exceeds its population growth. Economic growth requires political stability and the rule of law. Nations who do not have political stability and the rule of law cannot grow their economy. Nations with high population demographics who cannot create increasing or at least a stable standard of living for their people will create conditions for a mass exodus/emigration. These migrants will move via the easiest path to an area with a high standard of living.

For the very poor in African, that path leads north, to Europe.

The European people have no more desire for migrants from Africa than they already have. In most of their nations, their ruling class lacks the ability to do what they need to do to curtail the incoming masses. The people of Europe, if their present ruling class will not address their concerns, will look to get a new ruling class.

Masses of migrants in to Europe are already warping the political landscape of Europe. If Europe wants to keep domestic political turmoil and conflict - not to mention cultural and economic issues - it must find a way to create conditions in Africa such that the pressure to migrate are at least mitigated or at best eliminated.

Sure, there is a humanitarian impulse in play here ... but in the background is the very real desire to stop mass migration from making the Europeans become a people they don't want to be once again.

That is why you find a nation of 10.6 million that spends only 1.36% GDP on defense sending 180 of their finest military members in to the very heart of Africa.

Via The Defense Post, welcome back to Africa, Portugal;
Decades after Portugal formally ended its more than 500-year-old empire in Africa, the Portuguese military has returned in force. From Mali to Somalia, and now the Central African Republic the state of Portugal has been increasingly active in peacekeeping operations and counter-terrorism efforts in Africa.

A contingent of Portuguese peacekeepers came under fire on April 1 in the capital Bangui. The force had been deployed to PK5, a historically Muslim neighborhood in the Christian majority nation when it came under fire. That incident sparked further operations against armed groups in the neighborhood. In total the operation left as many as 21 civilians dead and injured scores including peacekeepers with the U.N.’s Minusca mission.

Portuguese paratroopers were again called upon to protect civilians during clashes in Bangui on May 1 in which at least 24 people died, and around 170 people were wounded.
The Portuguese get it.
“We have to play an active role in contributing to the defense and security of Portugal, of NATO and part of that is working to ensure stability south of the Mediterranean,” said João Rebelo a member of Portugal’s parliament with the CDS – People’s Party. “I remind my colleagues often it’s only a short flight from Portugal to Libya.”
This weekend a tactical event in C.A.R. involving Portuguese forces broke above the background noise.
Portuguese peacekeepers battled for five hours to protect civilians and restore order after militants killed two police officers in the Central African Republic town of Bambari ahead of a scheduled visit by the country’s president on Thursday, January 10.

The attack came a day after President Faustin-Archange Touadera announced that the government would meet armed groups in African Union-brokered peace talks in Khartoum.

Members of the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) ex-Seleka militia and their allies carried out “various attacks” in the town early Thursday, a government statement said.

“Two policemen were killed and another was wounded,” Communications Minister Ange-Maxime Kazagui told AFP.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said it was treating 30 people for bullet wounds. MSF later said 26 people were still being treated but one person had died in hospital.

Corbeau News reported that around 10 people were killed, but it was not possible to confirm this toll.

The government later said on Twitter that 20 UPC members were killed and 15 others wounded.

According to an internal U.N. report seen by AFP, a combatant called “General Bello,” in charge of UPC fighters in Bambari, had been wounded.
Take some time to see this exceptional video of the Portuguese paratroopers in contact.

Things that caught my eye:
1. The influence of American special forces in the last 15-yrs has brought the light infantry kit to a refined point. Everyone is starting to look roughly the same.
2. Looks like almost every helmet has a camera, every helmet a number ... as such ... you can really deconstruct every engagement if all are working and recording. The Colonial Marines' kit from "Aliens" was pretty good in telling the future.
3. You may speak your national language to each other if you want, but when you want air support - know your English.

For everyone, especially former colonial powers like Portugal, there will be more Africa in their future.
There may be more such missions in the future.

Security in the former Portuguese colony of Mozambique is a growing international concern. Local Islamist groups in the province of Cabo Delgado have been conducting limited terrorist attacks against the government. It’s a region well-known in Portuguese military history and in Portuguese military circles. It was there in 1964 that Communist guerrillas crossed the border from Tanzania to attack Portuguese forces, an event which for Portugal marked the beginning of the Overseas War, Guerra do Ultramar, in earnest.

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