Underlining western and regional concerns that the jihadist threat in North Africa and the Middle East is growing, is the shifting focus of the us Africa Command (Africom) established in 2007.

It was initially intended to focus on “partnership building” and provide training for African forces to counter terrorism and narcotics smuggling, but after the libya war in 2011, there are clear indications Africom is taking on a more combat- oriented mission as the continent’s northern tier is convulsed with political turmoil and the prospect of a widening conflict with jihadist forces.

After coordinating us operations during the eight-month Libyan war, which fueled jihadist operations across North Africa when large amounts of weapons from Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenal were plundered, Africom has become “the central player in the us military’s counter-terrorism efforts,” the us military’s newspaper, stars and stripes, reported.

The command is acquiring firepower for the first time, a brigade from the us first infantry division, the renowned big red one, as well as special forces teams who are its rapid reaction force.

And as of 5 April, its new commander is Gen. David Rodqiguez, a battle-tested officer who was deputy commander of us forces in Afghanistan and commander of the multinational international security Assistance force there.

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