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AFRICOM Chief Has No Problem with ChiCom Weapons

by christian on September 14, 2011

As Chinese companies creep ever further into the fabric of the African continent, making handshake deals for oil and other resources, the overall U.S. commander for the region is blase about the encroaching dragon’s guns.

During a breakfast meeting with reporters in Washington today, Gen. Carter Ham, commander of Africa Command, said he doesn’t have a problem with China’s arms sales to the Dark Continent’s buyers.

It’s very clear that the Chinese, like us and like many others, are involved with supporting African militaries with equipment. I don’t see that as a military competition between us and China.

Ham cited the recent purchase of Chinese riverine craft by the Democratic Republic of Congo as an example of where he thought an African nation had made a good buy.

I actually think that was really helpful. That’s a capability they need. That’s not a capability that we posses. There are a number of African countries that fly Chinese aircraft, that use Chinese maritime patrol vessels. I don’t see that as military competition, but rather as African nations making decisions on where they can best find a supply of the material and equipment they need to accomplish their objectives.

Carter admitted he’d like African nations to buy USA — since it would be easier to do mil-to-mil training and operations with like gear, but he recognizes that that might not be in the best interest of African countries.

He seemed to be saying: “Hey, it doesn’t matter where they buy their guns. As long as it’s us who are training them how to use them…”

– Christian


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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

itfunk September 14, 2011 at 4:37 pm

What he is saying is that there is nothing he can do about it so he's going to grin and bend over.


Letsallbefriends September 14, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Competition in international markets is always good for the consumer.


m-1 September 14, 2011 at 8:57 pm

"Dark continent"?


Jayson September 14, 2011 at 9:02 pm

They gotta start somewhere. Everyone seems to start with the low cost and cheap Chinese products then subsequently upgrade to the bigger and better stuff later.

They'll be knocking on our doors soon enough especially after building a relationship through the training.


Kski September 14, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Well the various African countries will figure out that chinese stuff is cheaper russian stuff. So they'll just upgrade to russian stuff that actually dose have control.


Stan September 14, 2011 at 9:24 pm

It's a reasonable attitude on his part. They couldn't afford the American stuff anyway.


Rajarata September 14, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Dark Continent ? Come on folks…..Seen Moroccans,Algerians,Libyans,Egyptians !


Joe Schmoe September 15, 2011 at 9:49 am

Like he said, "dark".


Scathsealgaire September 14, 2011 at 10:08 pm

isn't that a Aermacchi MB-339, in Ghanan colours?
You really should put a disclaimer, picture is "stock image". :p


TLAM Strike September 14, 2011 at 10:35 pm

No its a Czech Aero L-29 Albatross I think.


Scathsealgaire September 14, 2011 at 10:44 pm

When I first saw it I thought A-4, but then I looked it up and the A-4 has never been sold to Ghana. The L-29 has but the jet intakes are all wrong for a L-29 or for a MB-339(I must be blind today).

If you meant the L-39 Albatross then I am inclined to agree with you.


TLAM Strike September 14, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Yea L-39 not L-29. Typo on my part, the L-29 is the Delfin while the L-39 is the Albatross.


jamesb September 14, 2011 at 11:35 pm

He may live to regret those words….

Africa IS going to be the next Middle East…..


TLAM Strike September 14, 2011 at 11:53 pm

My money is on Siberia. There is more oil and natural resources sandwiched between last century's up and coming superpower (USSR) and this century's up and coming superpower (PRC) than there is in the Middle East. FWI Russia is the world's #1 oil exporter now, not Saudi Arabia.

There are no major natural resources in Africa to fight over, which is the main reason why we even bother with the Middle East.


Letsallbefriends September 15, 2011 at 4:18 am

'There are no major natural resources in Africa to fight over'???

There are vast natural resources in Africa. Oil, timber, gold, diamonds, uranium, copper, coltan (a metal needed for mobile phones and laptops that they're slaughtering each other over it in the Eastern Congo). All vital, valuable stuff. This is why China has been working so hard there.

The main reason it's been called the Dark Continent is because in the 19th Century when the phrase was apparently coined, Europeans/Americans knew very little about large parts of it. That is obviously still the case with some people on here.


blight September 15, 2011 at 8:09 am

And most of those resources are seemingly concentrated in coastal Africa…suggesting that prospecting in the interior for resources has been minimal, if non-existent. The PRC is ahead of “The Great Game” (bringing back old 19th century terminology) on that front, but we’ve played that game before and had our client-states turn on us before.


TLAM Strike September 15, 2011 at 8:29 am

Only 3 countries in Africa have any decent sized Oil Reserves while Russia is the world's largest oil exporter. Siberia has the world's largest untapped reserve of timber (Chinese loggers routinely cross the border illegally to get at it), Russia is the world's second largest exporter of Gold. Diamonds can be grown synthetically (Russians helped develop that). Coltan is one of the few things they got that few others do, except for Brazil.


M-1 September 15, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Coltan- google it


david September 14, 2011 at 11:53 pm

It's a K-8 Karakorum AJT guys.
not L-39


cosz September 15, 2011 at 10:03 am

Finally someone got this right.


SJE September 15, 2011 at 2:18 pm

We could see this to the USA's advantage.
1. Most African nations do not have the infrastructure, resources and training to operate the most highly advanced weapons
2. Most African nations have little need for the most advanced weapons.
3. Corruption is endemic: do we want our weapons being sold to the Iranians, Chinese etc for testing
4. African nations have an unfortunate habit of civil war and regional conflicts. Next time, people won't be screaming at Lockheed, Boeing etc for selling weapons to dictators. The Chinese will have to deal with the political heat.

The Chinese are doing well in Africa, and the West should be careful. At the same time, the Chinese have not yet been there long enough to get caught up in and tarred by association with various unsavory characters. Its only a matter of time before we see their support for the Northern Sudanese, etc come back to bite them, just like the French lost out from their support of the Hutu's in East Africa.

My take: the US should sell to stable, friendly, and democratic leaning governments, avoid the headaches, and gain from the good will. Weapons sales are only a small fraction of US interests.


Lance September 15, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Dosnt matter most African countries buy Russian weapons still and only a handful buy Chinese crap. Somalia Burnie Mozambique and Tanzania are some of the Chinese weapon users but most use Soviet/Russian weapons. We dont get much sales out of there so let the Russians and Chinese battle it out.


Lance September 15, 2011 at 3:25 pm

AKM-47 and AK-103 vs Type-56 sales.


Jason September 15, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Plus…every try to teach a foreign military to operate high tech weaponry and then come to the realization that they lack basic education? Ugh…


SJE September 16, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Exactly. It has been a problem in Afghanistan where many people can't read.


roland September 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Looks like another F-5.


Will September 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm

That's the old line, and probably not because of the people. Not even as silly as Americans calling East Asia the Far East even though it's thousands of miles west of the USA.


blight September 15, 2011 at 9:33 pm

I think we should've learned this from Iraq.

Sell them generators or other equipment, can't maintain it because of the unstable conditions and constant insurgent attacks…then they degrade.

Sometimes you have to sell them the rugged stuff, and once things on the ground improve, they will want more modern equipment…but American companies will be wary of supplying known trade partners with the PRC with the best equipment due to the risk of it being reverse-engineered and deployed at a third of the price.


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