January 8, 2006


To fight Al Qaeda, US troops in Africa build schools instead: More than 1,500 US troops are on a hearts and minds mission. (James Brandon, 1/09/06, The Christian Science Monitor)

CAMP LEMONIER, DJIBOUTI - Pointing to his computer screen, Maj. Gen. Timothy Ghormley sounds more like a Peace Corps volunteer showing off holiday photos than the shaven-headed US Marine entrusted with defeating Al Qaeda in East Africa. "That's what it's about right there," he says, stabbing his eyeglasses at the pictures of African children celebrating as water gushes from a new well. "Look at those kids. They're gonna remember this. In 25 years they'll say, 'I remember the West - they were good.' "

In 2002, more than 1,500 US troops were sent to this former French colony in East Africa to hunt followers of Al Qaeda throughout the region. Now, under General Ghormley, their mission has evolved to preempt the broader growth of Islamic militancy among the area's largely Muslim population.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 8, 2006 5:45 PM

Even though it's a nice idea, I don't think our troops should be doing this. Let it be done through a different agency.

Posted by: erp at January 8, 2006 6:36 PM

Does this mean their original mission has been accomplished?

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 8, 2006 7:17 PM

Isn't this what Senator Patty Murray said Osama had been doing in Afghanistan before we interrupted him?

Posted by: obc at January 8, 2006 7:46 PM

Notice that it is a former French colony!!

Posted by: dick at January 8, 2006 9:44 PM

erp: is there any other agency competent enough to do the job (i.e. which will not just hand over the money to the local thugs while sipping tea in 5 star hotels)?

Posted by: Daran at January 9, 2006 2:47 AM

Daran, I'm pretty sure one exists in the private sector. Our soldiers already have the very important job of protecting us.

Posted by: erp at January 9, 2006 9:42 AM