Researching AFRICOM

I spent much of last week thinking about the overlap between security and development at a conference called Countering Terrorism in Africa Through Human Security Solutions. Part of the purpose of the conference was to develop a research agenda. Here is a quick napkin sketch of what I see as one critical research need.

Starting from the big picture, U.S. counterterrorism policy is explicitly about "capturing or killing terrorists and countering the conditions that breed violence and extremism." However, the impetus for many recent conferences is that we aren't doing the second half of the equation very well.

In Africa, the experimental grounds for this two-pronged strategy are in two places: Combined Joint Task Force- Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCPTP). Put aside TSCPTP for a moment, CJTF-HOA aims to "enhance the long-term stability of the region." The research question then becomes:

(i) What is CJTF-HOA actually doing to seek this "long-term stability"?
How do they make decisions about what supports "long term security"?
Who are their partners?
What are the problems they face in attempting to implement this?
How would they measure success?

Then, if that doesn't fill up a research plate, one could add a normative component:

(ii) What could be a good framework for them to decide all of the above questions?

As a final note, I believe the AFRICOM question is interesting (vis a vis development) because of the reality that, as Colin Thomas-Jensen writes, "institutional changes within the U.S. government and a growing American constituency for Africa have coalesced to create a unique moment for Africa — an opportunity for Bush’s successor to take stock of past mistakes and aggressively pursue a coherent approach to Africa that furthers U.S. foreign policy objectives
and improve the lives of millions of Africans."

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