U.S. military expands role in West Africa

Christian Science Monitor
Monrovia, Liberia

Ready, fight! A marine gives two Liberian soldiers a martial arts lesson last month aboard the USS Fort McHenry (Tugela Ridley)
Ready, fight! A marine gives two Liberian soldiers a martial arts lesson last month aboard the USS Fort McHenry (Tugela Ridley)

Brightly painted tattoos snake down Sgt. Joe Palko’s outstretched arms as he separates two fighters in protective headgear and boxing gloves.

It is morning onboard the USS Fort McHenry, a 600-foot amphibious landing ship, and US Marines are teaching martial arts on the “Well Deck” deep in the ship’s hull. Staff Sgt. William Sudbrock restarts the timer and a group of Liberian soldiers watch as their comrades lay into each other. Continue reading U.S. military expands role in West Africa

Americans go a-wooing

The Economist
Monrovia, Liberia

In the dying days of Charles Taylor’s murderous regime in Liberia, the American navy moored off his capital, Monrovia. Some 200-plus marines came ashore to secure the American embassy against trigger-happy rebels and crowds of panicking civilians alike, as the city burned. Five years on, American forces are back, in the shape of an amphibious landing ship 190 metres (600 feet) long and a smaller high-speed catamaran. Continue reading Americans go a-wooing