The routine standing force ensures inter-
national waterways remain open to shipping in
the region and provides forward deployed U.S.
forces during hostilities. The optional forces
available to USCENTCOM are used in crisis
situations. They were deployed in support of
Operation Desert Shield when Iraq invaded
Kuwait in August 1990.
Looking at the strategic importance of Africa,
we need to divide Africa into northern Africa and
southern Africa. From a naval viewpoint,
northern Africa is important because it borders
the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. From an
economic or strategic resources viewpoint,
southern Africa is important because of the vast
wealth in minerals it exports to developed
NORTHERN AFRICA. Countries receiving
Soviet military aid in northern Africa include
Guinea, Mali, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, and
Ethiopia. Of those countries, only Libya has been
openly hostile to the United States.
For many years Libya openly sponsored
terrorist groups and carried out acts of aggression
in the Gulf of Sidra. However, Libya has
decreased its level of aggression since the U.S.
Navy lead Operation El Dorado on 15 April 1986.
Operation El Dorado was a joint Air Force
and Navy mission composed of strike aircraft
based aboard the USS America (CV66) and USS
Coral Sea (CV43) and F-111 Air Force bombers
based in England. Using a high-speed, low-
altitude approach, 12 Navy A-6Es struck the
Benin airfield and Benghazi military barracks. At
the same time, 12 F-111s struck the Aziziyah
barracks, the Sidi Bilal terrorist training camp,
and the Tripoli military airport. Navy and Marine
F/A-18s destroyed surface-to-air missile sites,
while Navy E-2Ds, Navy and Marine EA-6Bs, and
Air Force F-11 1s provided electronic counter-
measures and command and control support.
Navy F-14s and F/A-18s were on station to
provide fighter support.
The successful attack caught the Libyans by
Except for sporadic surface-to-air
missiles, the Libyans did not engage the U.S.
strike force. The United States display of force
and stated willingness to strike again has played
a major role in deterring Libyan President
Muammar Muhammad al-Qaddafi from sponsoring
further terrorist attacks against Americans.
The main mission of the Navy in the North
African region is to keep the sea-lanes open. The
secondary mission is to support interest and
political goals in the region. The major challenger
to U.S. sea power in the African theater of
operations is the Soviet Union. Minor challengers
include Libya (31-42 ships) and Guinea (2-3 ships).
SOUTHERN AFRICA. The Soviets wish to
increase their influence in southern Africa.
Countries currently friendly to the Soviets include
Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe,
Botswana, Angola, and Namibia.
STRATEGIC RESOURCES. Africa is
among the worlds richest continents in known
mineral wealth. It has a large share of the worlds
mineral resources in coal, petroleum, natural gas,
uranium, radium, low-cost thorium, and other
The abundant natural resources available in
Africa make it strategically important to Western
nations. The Navy may now appear to have no
role in this area except in the Mediterranean Sea
and Red Sea. However, we may be called upon
to support U.S. interest in the many regional
conflicts happening in Africa. An example of one
of the regional conflicts is the civil war in Liberia,
on Africas western coast. President Bush ordered
a Marine amphibious group to that area in May
1990 to evacuate personnel. Through September
1990, the Marines evacuated more than 2,100
people, including over 200 U.S. citizens.
The Far East
Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Base are
strategically important to U.S. interests in the
Far East. We could lose both bases because their
leases must be periodically renegotiated with the
Philippine government. These bases are on the
sea-lanes and air routes to the Indian Ocean and
the Persian Gulf. Both bases played a vital role
in Operation Desert Shield. The bases also play
a vital role in extending the range of U.S. forces.
Much of the worlds oil that travels by ship
through the various straits in the Indonesian area
are within range of U.S. bases in the Philippines.
The U.S. strategic objective in the East Asia
and Pacific area is to deter war. Strategic strike
capability, Pacific Command (PACOM) forces,
bilateral defense treaties, forward deployment and
basing, and weapons technology all contribute to
deterrence in the region. If deterrence fails, the
United States and the Soviet Union could become