Congressman Matt Gaetz forces AFRICOM Commander Michael Langley to admit the U.S. has trained coup leaders in Africa

Huey Laugesen, a renowned international opinion contributor, hails from Colorado Springs, Colorado and is affiliated with Today News Africa.

On Thursday, Congressman Matt Gaetz sharply questioned General Michael Langley, the Commander of U.S. Africa Command, about the use of taxpayers’ dollars to instruct coup leaders in Africa. This dialogue brought to light a larger issue of foreign policy missteps in the region.

In the last twenty years, U.S. foreign policies in Africa have been a major disappointment as terrorist activities and instability have risen significantly while the U.S. has been involved. To make matters worse, U.S. trained African soldiers have taken part in overthrowing elected governments, and some have been successful in their endeavors.

In the 15 years since 2005, the U.S. has pumped billions of dollars into Africa to fund counterterrorism operations such as airstrikes, raids, and the training of 50,000 African soldiers. Unfortunately, the same period has seen a sharp rise in both terrorist attacks and terrorist groups.

By 2022, the Pentagon’s Africa Center reported that the number of Islamic terrorist groups on the continent had surged to 18, a 260% hike from 2010. Furthermore, in 2021, the Sahel region alone experienced as many as 4,800 fatalities attributed to terrorism, a 180% rise from its level two years prior.

It is impossible to conclude that the rise in terrorism is caused by U.S. involvement. However, one thing that is certain is that the U.S. has not been successful in decreasing terrorism in Africa.

Meanwhile, there has been a major drop in civil peace as coups d’e*tats have become widely accepted in numerous West African nations. Additionally, many of these coups have been orchestrated by military officers who were trained by the United States. Specifically, Mali and Burkina Faso have experienced 3 attempted coups by soldiers who were part of US training programs.

During January 2022, Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba conducted a coup d’e*tat in Burkina Faso, ousting the constitutionally-elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore. Damiba is a highly qualified soldier with involvement in 6 U.S military drills, according to the U.S Africa Command.

In September of 2021, Mamady Doumbouya, a highly-trained African soldier, commanded a Guinean special forces unit that had been training with the US Green Berets for a few months prior. This unit was successful in storming the presidential palace and overthrowing Alpha Conde’s government.

Yesterday, General Langley confirmed the U.S. Military had trained Damiba and Doubouya, yet he guaranteed them to have been imparted core values such as democracy. He indicated that only one percent of the 50,000 soldiers trained with taxpayer money had been involved in coup attempts. He noted that we had nothing to be concerned about, as we had taught them about democracy and only 500 had employed our training to partake in military coup d’e*tats.

It is far too many to count when it comes to 500 and even more so if we are talking about only one. Moreover, two attempts at coups led by U.S. trained soldiers have been successful. If our objective in Africa is to strengthen freedom and democracy, then we are not doing well at all.

Unless the American Government takes effective action, the situation in North America is only going to become more chaotic, which could open the door for malevolent forces like the Chinese Communist Party to come in and impose their oppressive rule in place of freedom and democracy.

After two decades, it is clear that the U.S.’s foreign policy in Africa has not been successful in either combating terrorism or advancing freedom. Are we going to keep repeating the same actions, thinking the results will be different? Or are we going to use our rational minds and acknowledge that what we have been doing has not been effective and thus alter our approach? I sincerely hope it is the latter, otherwise terrorism and unrest in Africa will just become worse and it will be unmistakable that our leaders have gone bonkers.

TRANSCRIPT: General Stephen Townsend, the commander of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), declared to Congressman Gaetz that the rebels who are leading the coup possess core values that are similar to those of the U.S. military.

Congressman Gaetz: General Langley, I have people from my district who were sent to Africa on training and equipping operations. If you could estimate, roughly how many African people have been trained and supplied with resources by the U.S. military in the last ten years?

General Langley: Congressman, I am unable to provide the number you are asking for right now; however, I am able to obtain it for you.

Rep. Gaetz asked: Approximately, what number?

General Langley: It’s impossible to give an accurate estimate, Congressman.

Representative Gaetz queried whether it was pertinent to be aware of the information.

General Langley: Throughout our time, we have instructed a significant quantity of people, particularly in the nations that make up the Gulf of Guinea, but previously-

Representative Gaetz: Is the figure more than 10,000? Yes, it is. Is it over 50,000?

General Langley: It looks like we’re hitting, at the least, 50,000.

Representative Gaetz: What proportion of those that we have trained have become involved in uprisings or takeovers of their own government?

Congressman, General Langley mentioned that the number is quite minuscule.

Representative Gaetz: What proportion of people do you believe?

General Langley: As far as I’m aware, the chances of it happening are very slim – almost negligible.

Representative Gaetz: Is this a frequent occurrence?

General Langley: The IMET system is currently being utilized and we have been successful in getting a considerable number of individuals to go through the courses at our educational institutions.

Rep. Gaetz: To come to the determination that less than 1% of the 50,000 people who have been educated and trained in this area have been involved in coups, what data sets do you use? That would mean 500 individuals, right, which is around 1% of the total?

General Langley: Congressman, it is possible that we have that data; however, I am not in possession of it currently.

Rep. Gaetz: Can you show us a photo of Colonel Mamady Doumbouya? Did the US train and equip him in Guinea? Here, let me show you this image.

General Langley: As to the name, I cannot say for sure.

Rep. Gaetz: Is it concerning to you that the individual wearing the large red hat, who was photographed with a group of American service personnel near our embassy, spearheaded a coup in Guinea and overthrew the leader a few months after this picture was taken in 2021?

General Langley: As Congressman, it is essential to emphasize that the IMA programs emphasize core values and maintain them throughout.

Representative Gaetz: Do the values of Colonel Doumbouya match our own?

General Langley: Values that form the foundation. I will emphasize this. Values that form the foundation. Acknowledgment of-

Rep. Gaetz: Does Colonel Doumbouya possess the same principles as us?

General Langley: Absolutely, without a doubt.

Representative Gaetz: Is that so? It appears that [the individual] orchestrated a revolt.

General Langley: Our educational program includes this.

Rep. Gaetz: Alright, that response gives us a lot of insight. In Burkina Faso, did the principles we taught the leader who staged a coup align with our values?

General Langley stated that it is part of our educational program.

Rep. Gaetz: Is incitement to overthrow the government part of our course of study?

General Langley: -We emphasize essential principles, and we call for civilian-directed rule.

Rep. Gaetz: Hang on, is teaching about coups part of the curriculum?

General Langley emphatically denied the idea of a civilian in charge.

Rep. Gaetz: Is there a connection between the core values that we possess and the leader of the coup in Burkina Faso that we provided training to?

General Langley: As a whole, our teaching emphasizes core values that demonstrate respect for civilian control, while remaining apolitical and having a lasting impact on a large percentage of people.

Rep. Gaetz: But this isn’t applicable to everyone. I’m curious as to how many people would be necessary to orchestrate a coup? Initially, you weren’t sure how many we had provided instruction and resources to. Later you suggested it was 1%, but you had no proof since there was no data you had monitored. Mr. Chairman, I am respectfully requesting that the document called “Another US trained stole soldier stages a coup in West Africa” from The Intercept be added to the record.

Chairman Rogers declared the order to be valid without any objections.

I request unanimous consent to include in the record the article entitled “U.S. forces trained the Guinean colonel behind the recent coup in West African country” with respect to Guinea. – Rep. Gaetz

Chairman Rogers: With no objection, the motion is passed.

Rep. Gaetz: So the issue that arises is, why should American taxpayers have to bear the cost of educating individuals who then go on to initiate coups in Africa?

General Langley declared to the Congressman that the curriculum they had established was aimed at instilling core values and strengthening nations that were transitioning to a democratic system.

Rep. Gaetz: However, the outcome isn’t always as expected. I understand you are confident in your teachings, but after two governments have been toppled – how many do we need to see overthrown by those we trained before we realize our values may not be taking hold? Is it five? Ten?

General Langley: We are going to stay persistent in ensuring that they abide by democratic principles, ideals, and remain neutral in politics.

Rep. Gaetz: Earlier, you stated that we and Colonel Doumbouya had similar values. But, it appears that his main belief is in conducting a coup. Therefore, I don’t think it has worked out. I think it is important to know how many countries we are training coup plotters in and if two is too many. We should use our resources more productively than on this endeavor.

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