U.S. Reaches Out In Africa Al Qaeda Fight

uganda, al qaeda, pizzey
uganda, al qaeda, pizzey
In a Ugandan army training video, Ugandan soldiers advance towards a suspicious bunker. Suddenly they come under fire. For many of the young soldiers, it's the first time they have worked together.

"Put two rounds in him," an American soldier says. "Bang, bang!"

This time the rounds are blanks. But they won't always be. American soldiers are training the Ugandans to combat terrorism, CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey reports, preparing them to go to Somalia to fight Islamic insurgents so the U.S. doesn't have to.

"If we help this country to stabilize now, we teach them how to combat extremism and terrorism now, we won't have to worry about a further escalation of problems in the future," U.S. Army trainer Sgt. Daniel LeGeer says.

Al Qaeda and other militants have expanded their operations to Africa. Across the top of the entire continent, rebel groups and discontented youth make ideal recruits-a situation made all the more dangerous by growing American dependence on African oil. It's something the U.S. cannot ignore.

"You don't even have to go back as far as Afghanistan to see what ungoverned spaces left alone can have an effect on the United States," Lt. Colonel Greg Joachim says.

The U.S. counterpunch is a new military command called Africom. The man in charge is four-star General William Ward.

He has been crisscrossing Africa trying to convince skeptical Africans that Washington wants partners-not new military bases. It's been a tough sell.

The hardest job facing Africom is image-making. In the words of a senior American official, "It's open season on U.S. foreign policy. We have to convince people that this is not some diabolical George Bush plot."

At a remote camp, General Ward watches U.S. soldiers vaccinating cattle-a month-long project to help farmers displaced by a vicious civil war rebuild their lives.

"When our uniformed folks are working with the uniformed folks of these nations, the people can also see that their militaries are here trying to help them, as opposed to not," General Ward says. "And those are all very good messages."

"That's soft power at work," General Ward says.

To make Africom succeed, the general has to spend as much time being a diplomat as a soldier. If he does it well enough, the enemy gathering in Africa won't be America's alone.