US Military Resumes Drone, Manned Counterterrorism Missions in Niger

03:07 14.09.2023

In a significant development, the United States military has announced the resumption of counterterrorism operations in Niger, including the deployment of drones and other aircraft. These operations were halted for over a month following a coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. General James Hecker, the head of Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, revealed that negotiations with the military rulers of Niger have resulted in the resumption of some intelligence and surveillance missions.

During a press conference at the annual Air and Space Forces Association convention in National Harbor, Maryland, General Hecker stated that although the US military is not conducting 100% of the missions that were previously carried out, a considerable number of missions have resumed in recent weeks. He highlighted that both manned and unmanned flights are being conducted, marking a positive development for the US military's operations in the region.

The Pentagon recently disclosed that some US forces were relocated from Air Base 101 near the capital city of Niamey to Airport 201 in Agadez, a city located approximately 920 kilometers northeast of Niamey. Agadez is of particular importance as it houses the largest airman-built drone base in Air Force history. However, it is important to note that the cost of this facility has amounted to a quarter-billion dollars, raising questions about its low-cost classification.

Niger has become a crucial regional outpost for US military patrols with armed drones and other operations aimed at combating rebel movements and extremist fighters. These groups have wreaked havoc in the region, claiming thousands of lives and seizing territories. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) reported over 1,800 rebel attacks in West Africa during the first half of this year alone, resulting in nearly 4,600 casualties. This grave situation has prompted France and the US to deploy forces in Niger to support the country's armed forces.

Remarkably, France has approximately 1,500 soldiers stationed in Niger and continues to support the ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. Paris has condemned the coup and considers the new regime illegitimate. However, Niger's military rulers have called for the French military to withdraw from the country, further complicating the political and security landscape in the region.

The resumption of US military operations in Niger is a significant development in the fight against extremism and rebel movements in West Africa. The US has invested substantial resources and training in Nigerien forces, making the country a key partner in the counterterrorism efforts of both the US and France. However, the distance between the two military bases in Niger poses challenges, as it limits the amount of time the drones can remain overhead for surveillance and data collection.

As the US military resumes its operations, it is hoped that the collaborative efforts between the US, France, and Niger will help bring stability and security to the region. The fight against extremism and rebel movements remains a top priority, as it directly impacts the lives of thousands of people and threatens regional stability.

/ Thursday, September 14, 2023, 3:07 AM /

themes:  Military  War  Maryland

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