New questions are being raised about the Obama administration's plans for U.S. troops on the ground in Africa, where Libya and Ivory Coast are in turmoil and other nations are unstable, as documentation reveals federal officials are planning massive increases in U.S. fuel purchases for military operations there.
Information obtained by the Monitor reveals the most recent fuel procurement, #SP0600-10-R-0242, includes nearly 29 million U.S. gallons of jet fuel, up from only 11.6 million in 2007; plus 13.9 million U.S. gallons diesel fuel, up from 8.2 million; 154,000 gallons premium unleaded gasoline, up from 59,000; and about 200,000 gallons aviation gasoline. There are no earlier figures available for that category.
While the White House and Pentagon have insisted the U.S. will not deploy ground troops in Libya, one informed observer questioned that assertion. Wayne Madsen, a former naval intelligence officer and author of "Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa 1993-1999," said the magnitude of this fuel procurement is indicative of heightened support for the movement of transport aircraft, navy ships and armored vehicles.
"Libya will likely go boots on the ground soon," Madsen predicted in an interview. "South Sudan independence… could result in us providing peacekeeping forces. Same with Cote d'Ivoire. That is where I see us deploying forces.”
Over a million gallons more jet and vehicle fuel are being distributed under a separate solicitation to various locations around the continent, including Camp Simba (Kenya), Tan Tan (Morocco) Dire Dawa and Arba Minch (Ethiopia), Thies and Dakar (Senegal), and the island nation of Seychelles.
Department of Defense contracting documents dating back to 2004 were examined, and the escalation in fuel planning was evident.
In late 2004, for instance, the Defense Logistics Agency identified a three-year need for 1.7 million U.S. gallons of diesel, 1.3 million gallons of jet fuel and just under 16,000 gallons of premium unleaded gasoline, in #SP0600-05-R-0009.
That particular acquisition was destined for use at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, a coastal east African nation positioned between Somalia and Eritrea and which also borders on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
As that specific contract approached its end, DLA in 2007 issued a new solicitation, #SP0600-07-R-0216, for fuel for Camp Lemonnier – a solicitation representing the beginning of an exponential increase in U.S. military fuel consumption in the region.
The new contract called for more than quadruple the previous amount of diesel fuel to 8.2 million gallons, an eightfold increase in jet fuel to 11.6 million gallons and more than triple the previous total for premium unleaded gasoline to 59,000 gallons.
That procurement, whose "ordering period" was February 2008 through January 2011, came several months before the Bush administration's official unveiling of the newly created U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), whose sphere of responsibility would include all of Africa excepting Egypt.
The latest fuel plan for some 43 million gallons plus aviation gasoline arrived even as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was explaining during a White House daily news briefing that the administration has "full confidence in NATO's capacities" in Libya, rejecting one reporter's inquiry as to whether the French and the British might be shouldering an unfair burden in NATO's mission in Libya.
"NATO is fully capable of and is achieving the goals set out for it and prescribed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973," Carney said, according to a White House transcript of the briefing. "The president and this administration believes that NATO and the coalition, of which we remain a partner, is capable of fulfilling that mission – of enforcing the no-fly zone, enforcing the arms embargo, and providing civilian protection."
Carney deflected another reporter's question about whether he would like to see additional NATO members – other than just the U.S., Great Britain and France – participate more in the Libyan initiative.
"I would refer you to NATO for operational details about how NATO should run this mission," he said. "We are no longer in the lead. NATO is the lead and is fully capable of executing the mission."
Gen. Carter F. Ham, chief of AFRICOM, recently testified before the House Armed Services Committee that the command "is prepared to respond decisively to any crisis when the president so directs."
He pointed out in written testimony submitted for the April 5 committee hearing that one objective of U.S. policy is to ensure that the stability of the nation's African partners "becomes self-sustaining on the continent."
On the other hand, he asserted, "there are potential crises requiring prompt, decisive action, and U.S. Africa Command must be ready for these contingency operations."
Indeed, the significant rise in fuel destined for AFRICOM activities is only one indication of such heightened readiness.
Corresponding with the huge increases in planned shipments of jet fuel, diesel and unleaded gas to Africa are similarly large expenditures for tens of thousands of metric tons of maritime oil, fuel oil, and other "distillates and residuals."
The procurement for those maritime energy sources, #SP0600-06-R-0218, began in 2006 and through October 2011 will continue to provide deliveries to naval ship bunkers in around nations including Ghana, Senegal, Gabon, Cape Verde, and South Africa.
WND has identified an additional development that is further indicative of elevated U.S. preparedness in Africa: the hiring of private pilots to carry out troop and equipment "ferrying services" between AFRICOM's Stuttgart headquarters and unidentified locations across the African continent.
According to a contracting document, #HTC711-11-R-R001, updated April 8 and located via a federal database research, the U.S. Transportation Command is reaching out to vendors capable of ferrying in AFRICOM personnel and supplies at the time of "mission origination" and ferrying them out at "mission completion," the document says.
The selected contractor would begin providing ferrying services as early as July, with the first-year contract running through June 2012 along with two possible contract option-years through 2014, according to the solicitation.
"Advance notice will be given when practical; however the contractor shall be prepared to support missions with notification of 24 hrs. or less," the document noted.
(This article originally appeared April 14, 2011, in WorldNetDaily)