US nightmare in Africa

8:52 20.04.2024 •

Photo: AFP

More than 1,000 U.S. troops are effectively being held “hostage” in Niger with medical supplies running low — stuck between the military junta-controlled government’s demands for them to leave and the Biden administration’s refusal to let them go home after the end of their deployments, according to a report prepared by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and obtained exclusively by Breitbart News.

“Our troops are currently sitting on a powder keg caused by political indecision at the top of the Department of State and Department of Defense. With a military junta in charge — who detests our presence and considers us unserious and predatory — the situation seems to be setting the groundwork for catastrophic diplomatic collapse like we saw during the 2012 Benghazi attack. Additionally, these troops are already running short on necessary, life-saving supplies, such as blood and medications,” the report by Gaetz’s office said.

The report is based on interviews by Gaetz’s office with troops currently stationed in Niger, who reached out to Gaetz’s office after they did not receive assistance from the Departments of Defense and State.

The service members are currently deployed to Airbase 101 (AB101) in the capital of Niger, Niamey, as part of the 768th Expeditionary Airbase Squadron (768 EABS), which is comprised of active duty and reserve forces, Air National Guard airmen, Army Special Forces and contract support. There are about 450 personnel at Air Base 101. Until the takeover by the junta, the base was a major hub for U.S. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) against terrorist groups Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State in West Africa, Boko Haram, and Ansaru. It was also a hub for U.S. military advisers supporting Niger’s forces.

The U.S. troop presence became threatened after the military junta, known as the Conseil National pour la Sauvegarde de la Patrie (CNSP), or the National Council for the Safeguard of the Fatherland, declared it had taken over the country on July 26, 2023. Just a few months before, Secretary of State Antony Blinken had praised Niger as “a model of resilience, a model of democracy, a model of cooperation.”

The junta declared in March 2024 a cancellation of the military accords with the U.S., after a series of meetings with Assistant Secretary of State Molly Phee and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Commander Marine Gen. Michael Langley, according to the report.

The report noted that the troops are in a precarious situation, with the government expressing its demand for U.S. troops to leave and the local population increasingly wondering “Why is the U.S. here?” It also noted that tension with the United States has escalated since France’s departure, leaving the U.S. as the main western presence to oppose.

Perhaps most concerning is that medical supplies are running low. The blood bank at AB101 — which needs constant replenishment due to routine expiration — is not being rotated for use in the event of a mass casualty or medical emergency, the report said. In addition, service members who require medication for acute or chronic issues are facing the depletion of their prescriptions with no resupply in sight, the report said. Malaria medication is also running low.

To add insult to injury, unidentified “near-peer adversaries” — believed to be Russian forces — are given “unfettered access” to Niger.

“Our near-peer adversaries are gaining unfettered access to Niger while our Department of State misrepresents the truth and intentionally buries assessments of our intelligence experts in the region to maintain the façade,” the report said.

Chad’s government threatens to kick out US troops

The US risks losing its military presence in another African country as the government of Chad sent a letter threatening to end a critical security agreement, according to four US sources, a move that threatens to cede more US influence in the region to Russia, CNN informs.

In a letter sent to the US defense attaché last week, Chadian officials threatened to cancel the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, which determines the rules and conditions under which US military personnel can operate in the country. While the letter did not directly order the US military to leave Chad, the officials told CNN that it said all US forces would have to leave the French base in N’Djamena.

The letter specifically mentioned the US Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) at the base, an important hub for US Special Operations Forces in the region, two of the sources said. But the task force is not the only contingent of US military personnel at the base, as all US service members in Chad are located in N’Djamena.

Instead, the letter was from the Chief of Air Staff of Chad, Idriss Amine, the intelligence sources said, an unusual way to transfer such a significant message. The letter was typed in French, one of Chad’s official languages, and written on Amine’s official letterhead.

The exact number of US troops in the country is not clear but one US official said there are fewer than 100 troops there.

The move comes just a month after the military government of neighboring Niger ended its agreement with the US military that allowed American personnel to operate in the country.

One of the sources told CNN that the leadership in Chad is following the example set by Niger, attempting to use an opportunity to extract more concessions from the US. But the official said Chad’s threat to terminate the SOFA agreement blindsided US officials.

The move comes at a critical time for US interests in Africa, as American officials have warned that Russian influence is expanding across the continent.

In a statement to CNN, Marine Corps Gen. Michael Langley, head of US Africa Command, said some diplomatic clearances for military flights “have recently been denied or not responded to, which has forced extended deployments in some cases.”

“US Africa Command senior leaders continue to work closely with the State Department and others to ensure US forces deployed to Niger have the support and services they need,” Langley said. A US military official said AFRICOM remains committed to conducting intelligence activities, and that the Defense Department and AFRICOM “are informed daily of the situation on the ground in Niger.”

Langley, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March that Russia is “trying to take over central Africa as well as the Sahel” at an “accelerated pace.”

“(A) number of countries are at the tipping point of actually being captured by the Russian Federation as they are spreading some of their false narratives across Libya and from a strategic answer piece, access and influence across the whole Maghreb,” Langley said. “That is NATO’s southern flank. We need to be able to have — maintain access and influence across the Mahgreb, from Morocco all the way to Libya.”

In a separate hearing with the House Armed Services Committee last month, Langley said Central African countries were “in a dilemma,” needing developmental assistance from countries like Russia and China but balancing those needs against “risks to national sovereignty.”

“In this region, the stakes are high,” Langley said.

Pro-Russian demonstration in Niger.
Inscriptions on the posters: “Africa is Russia”, “Putin send in troops”, “We want to speak Russian”.


read more in our Telegram-channel