US Military Bases in Niger Critical Part of America’s Counterterrorism Efforts in West Africa

Thu Sep 14 2023
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NATIONAL HARBOR: The US military has resumed flying manned aircraft and drones out of air bases in the Niger more than a month after a coup temporarily halted all those activities there, the chief of US Air Forces for Europe and Africa said on Wednesday.

Since the July coup, the 1,100 US troops deployed in the country have been confined inside their military bases. Last week, the Pentagon said some army personnel and assets had been moved from the air base close to Niamey, Niger, to another in Agadez. Niamey is nearly 920 kilometers away from Agadez.

The top Air Force commander for Europe and Africa said that in recent weeks some of surveillance and intelligence missions have been able to resume due to US talks with the junta.

Hecker said that for a while, the US is not been doing any missions on the bases, it has pretty much closed down the airfields.

In a statement, Pentagon press secretary Brig. General Pat Ryder confirmed that the US was flying missions again but said they were confined to protecting US troops.

Hecker, who spoke to journalists at the annual Air and Space Forces Association convention at National Harbor, Maryland, said the United States is flying both manned and unmanned missions and those flights resumed within the last couple of weeks.

US makes Niger major regional outpost

The US has made Niger its major regional outpost for wide-ranging patrols by armed drones and other counterterror activities against extremist movements that, over the years, have seized territory, killed civilians and battled foreign militaries.  The bases are a critical part of the US’s overall counterterrorism efforts in West Africa.

The United States has also invested years and hundreds of millions of dollars in training Nigerian troops.

In 2018, fighters loyal to the ISIS ambushed and killed 4 American service members, 4 Nigeriens and an interpreter.

West Africa recorded more than 1,800 extremist attacks in the first 6 months of this year, which killed about 4,600 people, according to ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States.

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