February 24, 2008:
When the U.S. Air
Force supplied airlift, in support of U.S. president Bush's recent trip to
Africa, they found that operating conditions were a bit different from
elsewhere in the world. Even major airports in Africa do not allow you to pay
for jet fuel, landing fees or other expenses, with credit cards, on account or
via bank transfers. No, in most of Africa, cash is king. So the 80 airlift
flights required to support the Bush tour of Africa, were supported by several
heavily guarded briefcases stuffed with fresh hundred dollar bills. The air
force officers in charge of taking care of these cash transactions were also
advised to tip generously and often, so some local bureaucrat didn't get upset
and cause an international incident. The air force has run into this before, as
they have been supporting U.S. Army Special Forces missions to Africa for decades.
The Special Forces have long been active in training local troops for
peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations. The CIA also has long experience
with the cash economy in Africa, but don't like to talk about it.