US studying special operations airlift needs in Africa


The United States military is seeking to identify companies able to provide fixed wing air transport services on behalf of US Army Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in countries in Africa.

On February 4 the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) register issued a notice saying Special Operations Command Africa was “conducting market research to identify parties having an interest in, and the resources to support, an emerging requirement for mobile fixed wing air transport services to move personnel and cargo within the northern regions of Africa and surrounding countries”.

SOCOM said the airlift services will cover the African nations of Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal. Jordan, which is likely to the base for the Africa operations, is the only Middle Eastern country covered by the airlift requirement.

The fixed wing aircraft involved must be capable of transporting a minimum of 1 000 pounds and maximum of 4 500 pounds to include a mix of a maximum of 12 passengers and/or cargo. It must also be capable of taking off/landing on improved and unimproved dirt airfields of a minimum of 1 800 feet in length to support supply and personnel transportation requirements.
“The primary operation area where the air transportation support could be provided include, but are not be limited to, Libya, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Senegal, and Morocco. Other locations within northern Africa may be dictated by operational requirements and timely coordination will ensure contractor support,” the notice stated.

Responses are called for by February 23.

The notice comes amid calls for the Pentagon to prepare for a large-scale counter-insurgency campaign to destroy West African-based terrorist groups like Boko Haram and several other Islamist militant groups operating in Mali, Niger, Algeria, Mauritania and other ‘safe havens’ in the Sahel and Lake Chad sub-regions.

In remarks made during an address at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, last week, Africa Command (Africom) head General David Rodriguez said a US-led counter-insurgency campaign was necessary to eliminate the threat posed by new terrorist groups based in West Africa.

He said Africom is already preparing a response which will include operations that will target ‘forces affiliated to Boko Haram’ in four West African countries neighbouring Nigeria.

Presenting a lecture to students at the US Army’s West Point academy early this month, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) commander General Joseph Votel said US Army commando teams must start preparing now for new deployments against Boko Haram and the Islamic State in north and west Africa.
“Boko Haram is creating fertile ground for (terrorist) expansion into other areas. While it is not yet a direct threat to the (US) homeland, it is impacting indirectly our interests in this particular area (West Africa) and creating another area of instability,” General Votel said.

So far, US special operations forces operating in the Africa and Middle Eastern regions have conducted a number of raids against al Shabaab in Somalia, Islamist militants in Libya and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen.