Liquid Warfare: AFRICOM and its pop-up militarization

In recent years, an expanding conglomerate of armed actors is engaged in training operations, targeted killings and manhunts, often outside conventional war zones across the Middle East and Africa. These Western state-led operations mark a shift away from ‘boots-on-the-ground’ deployments towards light-footprint military interventions, and involve a combination of drone strikes and airstrikes, special forces, private contractors and military-to-military (M2M) training. Established in 2008, the US Africa command (AFRICOM) has spearheaded this form of military engagement in Africa. AFRICOM special forces, for instance, share military bases and engage in training ‘African partners’. Although not an entirely new phenomenon, the reliance on countering security threats at a distance through military partnerships is on the rise across Africa, and cynically results in having local partners doing most of the killing and dying across shadowy, and dispersed battle zones.


Demmers, J., & Gould, L. (2018). Liquid Warfare: AFRICOM and its pop-up militarisation. Security Dialogue Author’s Blog