“We do, however, work closely with our African partners to facilitate access, when required, to conduct missions or operations that support and further our mutual security goals,” the command said.
Surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations, it added, are “simply a tool we employ to enable host nation militaries to better understand the threat picture.”
Uncovering the details
The U.S. military has largely kept details of its spy flights in Africa secret. The Post pieced together descriptions of the surveillance network by examining references to it in unclassified military reports, U.S. government contracting documents and diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group.
Further details were provided by interviews with American and African officials, as well as military contractors.
In addition to Burkina Faso, U.S. surveillance planes have operated periodically out of nearby Mauritania. In Central Africa, the main hub is in Uganda, though there are plans to open a base in South Sudan. In East Africa, U.S. aircraft fly out of bases in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles.