Operation Aztec Silence
US European Command (EUCOM) established Joint Task Force Aztec Silence (JTFAS) under the Commander of the US Sixth Fleet in December 2003 to counter trans-national terrorism in the under-governed areas of Northern Africa (and later Western Africa) and to build closer alliances with those governments as part of Operation Aztec Silence. In support of this, US Navy intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets based in Sigonella, Sicily were used to collect and share information with partner nations and their militaries. This robust cooperative ISR effort was augmented by the release of intelligence collected by national assets.
EUCOM continued coordination with the services to increase ISR assets and analytical resources to effectively prosecute the Global War on Terrorism. Persistent ISR would improve the ability to find, track and interdict mobile and technically competent terrorist groups operating within the vast, ungoverned regions of the area of responsibility.
Unmanned air, surface, and sub-surface persistent surveillance platforms would be essential to forward operations based on a reduced footprint in theater. A major EUCOM focus was joint and combined interoperability of ISR systems to optimize information collection by NATO and non-NATO partners and to complement the Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency human intelligence capabilities.
The major US security objectives in Africa would be to eliminate ungoverned areas, to counter extremism, and to end conflict and reduce the chronic instability that hampers and often extinguishes hope for political and economic development. Development of effective security structures in Africa would lay the foundation for future success. However, they were dependent upon on a new level of commitment to devote the manpower, financial, and institutional resources necessary to establish and sustain real progress.
The US crafted a policy that recognized the growing strategic importance of Africa and its potential to become the next front in the Global War on Terrorism. African security issues would continue to directly affect US homeland security. It appeared that the US had a small window of opportunity to make relatively modest near-term investments to avoid massive problems requiring US intervention in the future that could prove costly.
US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Major Force Program 11 (MFP-11) funding for Operation Aztec Silence was closed on 1 November 2004. Whether funding continued through other budgets was unclear. The areas of operation for Aztec Silence were eventually absorbed into the area of operation for Operation Enduring Freedom - Trans Sahara (OEF-TS), as that operation expanded.
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