By Larry Shaughnessy
CNN Pentagon Producer
The Arab Spring of revolution has given rise to a new summer of concern in North Africa.
While Moammar Gadhafi is gone, the weapons used by the rebels who overthrew him are now a threat to the whole region, according to Amanda Dory, a top Defense Department policy official on Africa.
"The breakdown of security in Libya has generated a significant flow of militants and weapons and has decreased legitimate cross-border traffic at a time of great economic fragility and turbulence," said Dory, the deputy assistant secretary of defense on African affairs.
Many of those weapons, the Pentagon fears, are ending up with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) the branch of the terrorist network in North Africa, especially in Mali, which in recent months has seen a coup and a separatist effort.
The al Qaeda affiliate "continues to increase its activities, including collecting large sums of money through kidnapping for ransom schemes," Dory said Monday. The Department of Defense "is closely watching what this will mean for the stability of the region and the ability of AQIM to target partner and U.S. interests."
Beyond Libya and Mali, the Defense Department is also active in the effort to hunt down the Lord's Resistance Army, a group that's been terrorizing central Africa and has for years kidnapped children and turned them into soldiers.
"Regional governments clearly have the lead in the effort to counter" the Lord's Resistance Army, Dory said. "They're the ones who are ultimately responsible for ending the LRA threat and protecting local communities. And the United States is seeking to help them in these responsibilities."
Some 100 U.S. troops, mostly Special Forces, are in Africa working to stop the LRA.