Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has never been the centerpiece of U.S. foreign and defense policy. Yet the current struggle between the United States and its allies against terrorist groups and individuals motivated by Islamic extremism thrusts SSA forward as a front in the global conflict. The author asks, centrally, what is the most effective long-term approach to U.S. counterterrorism in SSA. By comparing views in Washington, DC, with perspectives from SSA, he assesses that a fundamental and dangerous misunderstanding of SSA may be leading U.S. policy astray. Recommending a new grand strategic approach to U.S. counterterrorism policy, he suggests urgently educating a future generation of analysts, officers, and policymakers on SSA--whose interest must match their knowledge and understanding.