AFRICOM commander: Troop cuts not a threat to US, or Africa

U.S. Africa Command’s counter-terrorism mission is facing some troop cuts, which is causing concerns on how that will impact the safety of the American homeland from terrorist groups in Africa.

The answer from AFRICOM commander Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser is: probably not much.

One problem AFRICOM faces is characterizing the threats the organization faces, the AFRICOM commander, told the House Armed Services Committee Thursday.

“The threats we are working against aren’t necessarily a threat to the homeland and may not be a threat to the region overall,” Waldhauser said.

That fact is one of the reasons the Defense Department tasked AFRICOM to optimize its forces, and cut unnecessary missions.

“In many of these groups, we have the intersection of jihadist philosophy with crime, historical influence, criminal activity, shipping of weapons, drugs, cattle and so forth,” Waldhauser said. “These groups may hang out a shingle and say ‘we’re with ISIS today,’” But they “may or may not have the intent or capability to attack outside their particular part of the country.”

“Even though they may call themselves al-Qaida or ISIS, sometimes it’s difficult to say they’re a threat to the homeland.”

That doesn’t mean there won’t be an impact on counterterrorism across the continent, but troop cuts won’t create a dire situation for local partners.