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The Obama administration suddenly is hunting for contractors to help haul military equipment and supplies to and from Egypt and other nations within the U.S. Africa Command’s area of responsibility, WND has discovered.

The endeavor comes at a time of heightened tensions in the Mideast and North Africa, as U.S. warships already have arrived in the Mediterranean and warships from Syrian ally Russia reportedly are on the way.

Though it remains unclear which specific operations the initiative may support, the Army nonetheless is rapidly moving toward obtaining private-sector assistance in the AFRICOM Surface Distribution Services, or ASDS, endeavor.

It launched the solicitation for bids Aug. 5, gave contractors just four days to pose questions and allowed only two weeks beyond that to submit project proposals.

Contractors as early as Sept. 23 could be hauling “intratheater” AFRICOM cargo, according to procurement documents that WND discovered in a database search.

Providers will assist AFRICOM in the logistics and management of ASDS within any of the 55 nations of the Command’s AOR and Egypt, the project synopsis says.

In the document, AFRICOM claims that the material being transported, “although normally general in nature, will not include sensitive cargo but may include hazardous materials.”

The Army emphasized that it will not have contractors transport classified equipment and materials, gunpowder, ammunition or military weapons and explosives.

It also explicitly pointed out that vendors will not be tasked with moving military radar or “radio devices for remote control of weapons and equipment.”

Tanks, self-propelled armored combat vehicles with weapons, aircraft and spacecraft – including satellites – are likewise excluded, according to the document.

The outsourcing of some weaponry shipments, however, takes place under a separate U.S. military trans-Africa operation.

As WND recently reported, the U.S. Transportation Command, or TRANSCOM, on behalf of AFRICOM solicited help from private aircraft providers to move U.S. troops, ammunition and rockets in the Central African nations of Uganda, Central Africa Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

The Obama administration separately is keeping contractors on standby to make Africa-wide cargo drops and perform rescue missions for the U.S. Special Operations Command.

TRANSCOM, on behalf of Special Ops, awarded a $49-million contract in July to the Texas-based Berry Aviation for Trans Sahara Short Take Off & Landing services.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Military Sealift Command, or MSC, is preparing to send two Fast Missile Craft – which have been under development since the George W. Bush administration – to the Egyptian military.

It recently extended until Aug. 21 the deadline for contractor proposals, which the MSC currently is reviewing in preparing to deliver the well-armed patrol ships from “within 100 miles of Pensacola, Florida,” to Alexandria, Egypt.

Specific to AFRICOM’s ASDS procurement, the Army’s reference to one particular nation – Egypt – is at least partly due to the fact that the North African nation technically falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM.

CENTCOM “maintains its traditional relationship with Egypt,” yet AFRICOM “coordinates with Egypt on issues relating to Africa security,” according to an AFRICOM interactive map.

Egypt still is included in the statement of work because there may be some instances in which it is necessary to use it as a transit route, “as Egypt is sometimes used as a regional transfer point for North Africa by some commercial contract carriers,” the procurement document adds.

In other recent AFRICOM news, the Defense Logistics Agency is making advanced preparations to buy 65,000 metric tons, or MTs, of marine gas oil for the command.

According to a solicitation for the AFRICOM Ships’ Bunkers program, DLA, beginning April 2014, will order fuel to be delivered “into U. S. vessels for [U.S. Department of Defense] and Federal Civilian agencies by barge, truck, or pipeline.”

The largest volume of the fuel – up to 27,000 MTs – will be delivered to U.S. Air Force and Navy assets in Seychelles, a 115-island nation off the coast of East Africa.

Mauritius is the next most voluminous destination for the fuel, with a maximum order of just under 10,000 MTs, followed in descending-order volume by Tanzania, Cape Verde, Senegal, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Namibia.

Although the endeavors mentioned above are among the latest AFRICOM-related initiatives, WND since early 2011 has been reporting on the continued surge in the administration’s escalation of African operations.

Clues of this escalation began to arise after reviewing Defense fuel-procurement records from 2004 onward, when WND detected a leap in purchases suddenly exceeding tens of millions of gallons of jet and other fuel.

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