|image: Maj. Eric Hillard, U.S. Africa Command|
How much does it cost to purchase a tropical paradise island as a base for hunter-killers? $5.5 million for 4 months, according to an unclassified cable obtained by WikiLeaks. This is the amount of revenue that three programs of the U.S. Military are estimated to have generated for the Seychelles economy at the end of 2009. All that is required is to be complicit as a host for MQ-9 Reaper drones known as “hunter-killers” that are contributing to death from a distance via drone warfare in six countries.
The U.S. Military has a fairly sordid reputation for using “lily pad” outposts for military testing, training, research and bases of operation. The Seychelles is an island chain located in the Indian Ocean 930 miles east of mainland Africa making it a private, yet strategically placed location for the operation of the MQ-9 Reapers. It is also a nice luxury setting for the military, compared to where the battles actually take place. The money being spent by the American taxpayer via the military team on the ground is a boon for the Seychelles economy, but the cable reveals a startling expenditure at a time when Americans are hungry and jobless at ever-increasing levels.
There were, for example, twelve ship visits, three Flag Officer visits — General Ward (AFRICOM), Rear Admiral Kurta (CJTF-HOA), and Rear Admiral Sanders (CTF 151) — a three month P-3 Deployment (including three P-3 aircraft and 113 personnel), various training programs for local Seychelles government/military staff, and a UAV Operation, OCEAN LOOK, (including 82 contractors and military personnel). For bookkeeping purposes, the military divided the activities into three categories: P-3 Deployment, UAV Operation, and Ship Visits. The P-3 Deployment contributed approximately $1.4 million in revenue, in the following areas:
Vehicle Rental $79,672
Air Seychelles Services $5,000
Aircraft fuel $644,839
The UAV Operation, OCEAN LOOK, contributed approximately $3.1 million in revenue,
in the following areas: Lodging/Billeting $1,457,784 Vehicle Rental $51,760 Facilities/Services $598,363 Food/Liberty $937,260 Aircraft fuel $70,777 ----------------- TOTAL: $3,115,944 ----------------- The Ship Visits contributed approximately $0.9 million in revenue, in the following areas: Facilities/Services $600,000 Food/Liberty $293,400 ------------- TOTAL: $893,400 -------------
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The total contribution for the three military programs was $5,449,435; a significant amount to the Seychelles economy.
The Seychellois have already taken notice of the economic benefits. Seychelles Secretary of State Jean Paul Adam observed that local shop owners and restaurateurs have commented that the U.S. military is bringing steady income into hotels, restaurants, and shops: a direct influence of the American presence. In addition, an indirect benefit has been an increase in tourist confidence resulting from the security provided by the U.S. military.
Seychelles performed excellently on the 2010 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, ranking 2nd out of 48 sub-Saharan African countries, with an overall score of 79 out of 100, second only to Mauritius, which received a score of 83. Particularly good were its scores in Safety and Security, Participation and Human Rights, and Human Development. The Ibrahim Index is a comprehensive measure of African governance, based on a number of different variables which reflect the success with which governments deliver essential political goods to its citizens.
Since independence in 1976, per capita output has expanded to roughly seven times the old near-subsistence level. Growth has been led by the tourist sector, which employs about 30% of the labour force, compared to agriculture which today employs about 3% of the labour force…
…In recent years the government has encouraged foreign investment in order to upgrade hotels and other services. These incentives have given rise to an enormous amount of investment in real estate projects and new resort properties…
Even the IMF issued a favorable first-quarter report after a recent visit:
Economic activity continues to be on the rise, supported by a strong tourism sector. Consumer price inflation remains low (about 2 percent year-on-year) as the increase in international prices of food and fuel have not yet passed through to domestic prices. The present fiscal and monetary policy stances continue to be geared toward maintaining macroeconomic stability and reducing public debt.