American military base in Africa

Establishing a foreign military base, ostensibly to help combat the threat of non-state actors, is not an outlandish strategy. It has always been a strategy used by foreign powers to combat (what is perceived as) a threat to international security. Typically, it is often viewed as a joint effort between foreign powers and a host state to combat illegal international interference in the territory of the host state and to combat terrorist organizations that threaten or may threaten the host state directly or indirectly. , through a humanitarian crisis. It can sometimes be deployed in a region where insecurity is perceived to have the potential to cause international instability – usually with the consent of the countries in such a region.

Foreign bases increased dramatically during the Cold War between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and have of course continued to the present. However, the rationale behind foreign military bases is often to increase foreign strategic influence in the host country, namely to enable intelligence gathering about a potential enemy, and to easily deploy military actions to deter any enemy offensive . In practice, it is a kind of proxy instrument used by world powers. Although allegations that emerged last month regarding a proposed US military base in Nigeria were refuted by the federal government, there is no certainty that the United States will not open a new military base in another part of the continent anytime soon . The question is: is it right that the African continent abhors foreign military forces?

The establishment of America’s foreign military bases took a new turn in the early 19th century, as the country transitioned from its isolationist policies to pragmatism/interventionism. The United States’ withdrawal from isolationist policies pushed it beyond the bounds of addressing national security issues nationally. President Theodore Roosevelt, unlike General George Washington, insisted on the need for United States intervention in world politics to safeguard its territories and territorial gains. Subsequent presidents pushed not only to protect the United States’ territories, but also to make it a superpower that helped settle global issues. This translated into other policies, the Monroe Doctrine, the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, from which emerged the Bretton Woods institutions. The first two doctrines in particular emphasize the need for diplomatic military action by the United States to protect its national and territorial security abroad. The United States began to establish more and more military bases abroad after realizing their relevance following the Spanish-American War in the late 19th century. Much of the United States’ military base emerged in allied countries during the Cold War, unable to withstand the Soviet Union’s expansionist influence in newly independent states. A foreign military base would thus be useful in countering its main competitor, the Soviet Union, which would extend its communist ideology to the capitalist allied states of the United States. By the end of the Cold War in 1990/91, the United States had established military bases in approximately 40 countries. Following the collapse of the USSR, which culminated in the withdrawal of foreign military forces from its former sphere of influence, the United States also significantly reduced its foreign forces. However, as a result of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the US has rekindled its strategic military base abroad to effectively carry out its ‘global war on terror’. In 2021, the US foreign military base has spread to more than 80 countries. Africa has then become a place where the United States must go because the continent is susceptible to terrorist organizations.

No fewer than six countries have military bases on the African continent. These countries include Russia, the United States, France, Turkey, China and India. This was easier in former colonies. France, for example, had military bases in its former colonies Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali until it was expelled from these countries between 2020 and 2023. However, the country still has military bases in Ivory Coast, Gabon, Chad and Senegal. and Djibouti. Britain also has a military presence in Kenya, but its proposal to establish a military base in Nigeria in the 1960s was rejected. However, the United States, which has no colonies in Africa, has also established significant military bases in Africa. China, Turkey, India and the United Arab Emirates, none of which had colonies in Africa, operate military bases on the continent. These foreign powers supposedly do this to help insurgent-prone Africa combat terrorist networks such as Al Shabab, ISIS and Al Qaeda. However, the underlying motive is the pursuit of commercial and strategic interests on the resource-rich continent. While their efforts to combat oil piracy (such as in East Africa) and terrorism should not be underestimated, the foreign military base in Africa has led to an over-reliance on foreign militaries and resource exploitation, and has otherwise undermined the potential threats increased on the continent.


· Abdulkabir Muhammed, Department of History and International Studies, Lagos State University