October 25, 2017

Why were US soldiers even in Niger? America’s shadow wars in Africa, explained.

President Trump’s inexplicable fight with the widow of a Green Beret who was killed in Niger has sparked a political firestorm that shows no signs of dying down. It’s also brought new attention to a little-known aspect of Washington’s ongoing war on terror: The Pentagon is rapidly expanding its presence in Africa and is now engaged in military operations — including active combat — in more than half a dozen African countries.

It’s a fight that takes place largely in the shadows, led by small teams of US special operations forces. In Somalia, Navy SEALs are hunting members of al-Qaeda and ISIS-linked militants from groups like al-Shabaab (one of the commandos died in a botched raid earlier this year). In Libya, they’re carrying out counterterror missions like the one that capturedAhmed Abu Khattala, a militant linked to the deadly assault on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi. And in Djibouti, the US flies armed drones out of a major airbase at Camp Lemonnier, which is also used for counterterrorism and counter-piracy operations in the region.

US forces have also regularly conducted raids and other missions in ChadCameroonUganda, and, of course, Niger, where there are at least 800 American troops deployed.

Read the full op-ed in Vox.

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