This article was written by Louis Tayler and originally published on Grey Dynamics

Key Judgements

  • AFRICOM’s mission in North Africa is to limit the instability caused by the second Libyan Civil War. This mission has achieved some measure of success.
  • AFRICOM, and by extension, the United States, has a de-facto neutrality policy regarding the second Libyan Civil War. In light of Trump’s “America First” withdrawal, the U.S. is highly unlikely to pick a side or get involved in the war beyond hunting IS and AQ affiliates, and other extremists.
  • Despite denial by Tunisian authorities and strategic ambiguity by U.S. authorities, it is almost certain that Tunisia hosts a politically sensitive drone base and U.S. SOF, who use the country to operate across North Africa.
  • Scenario Generation: The U.S. is highly unlikely to support either side in the Libyan Civil War, however, scenario generation of limited U.S. support to either side is at the end of this report.

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the unified command structure responsible for managing all U.S. military activity in Africa, with the exclusion of Egypt, which falls under a different command. Due to the politically charged and controversial nature of hosting U.S. Headquarters in Africa, and for security and financial reasons, AFRICOM is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. AFRICOM also delivers a wide variety of projects, including the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program.

AFRICOM’s Mission in North Africa

AFRICOM itself describes its mission in North Africa as one of containing the spread of instability originating from Libya. It claims that it will accomplish this by building up the resilience and security capability of the region’s countries to counter threats from Libya. This mission has been mostly effective. Terror attacks have been kept to a relatively small number in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, with particularly effective cross-border counter-terrorism cooperation between Algeria and Tunisia (see previous Grey Dynamics Report).

However, the mission to contain regional instability has not been an unmitigated success. Low-level terrorism continues to plague North African nations. Islamic State, though greatly weakened, still has a presence in Libya.