Michael Langley insisted only a ‘very small number’ of Washington-trained Africans have toppled their governments
General Michael Langley, head of US AFRICOM, seemed to admit that the Pentagon “fundamental values,” instilled in tens of thousands of African military officers, was consistent with staging coups, as it was grilled during a House Armed Services Committee hearing by Republican Matt Gaetz (Florida) on Thursday .
Initially unable to provide a ball field figure of the number of African officers trained in the United States who staged coups, Langley later asserted that it was “less than one percent” crediting the Pentagon’s international military education and training program, which emphasizes civilian governance and representative democracy.
Gaetz, citing an Intercept article revealing that US-trained officers had successfully staged at least eight coups in West Africa alone since 2008, asked if the “fundamental values” instilled into this program were compatible with the program’s graduate, Col. Mamady Doumboya, who overthrew the Guinean government while his unit was literally in training with the American Green Berets in September 2021.
Langley replied in the affirmative, insisting that “fundamental values” of “respect for civil and political governance” were “which sticks through a very high percentage” of interns.
“How many governments have to be overthrown by people we train before you somehow get the message that our core values might not stick with everyone?” Gaetz asked, wondering why American taxpayers’ money should be spent training African military officers to overthrow their governments. “I think we should at least know in how many countries we train putschists”, he suggested.
While AFRICOM condemned the coup in Guinea as “inconsistent with U.S. military training and education”, other putschists disagree. After Amadou Sanogo, a US-trained Malian officer, overthrew his country’s government in 2012, he attributed his success to his US education.
“America is a great country with a fantastic army”, he said. “I tried to put into practice here everything I learned there.”
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Peace Research that analyzed data from 1970 to 2009 found a “a strong relationship between U.S. foreign military training and military-backed coup attempts,” although it focuses solely on the international military education and training program centered on civilian government.
When Captain Ibrahim Traoré overthrew the government of Burkina Faso last year, the Pentagon did not say whether he had been trained in the United States (although the leader he overthrew, Lt. Col. Paul -Henri Sandaogo Damiba, participated in at least half a dozen US training exercises before launching his own stunt earlier that year). As Langley admitted, they don’t keep records of what happens to officers after they complete their training.
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