The death of four U.S Special Forces personnel in Niger brought to limelight U.S military operations in French West Africa. It’s interesting to note that the United States of America, the oldest constitutional democracy in the world partners with no English speaking democracy in ECOWAS – the most democratic region on the continent, but rather partners with and provides military aid to Francophone West Africa, a bloc devoid of a single democratic state, but dictatorships spanning decades.
On the 30th of September the United States military announced the building of a $100 million ” temporary” Reaper Drone base in Niger Republic to help the country combat militant groups and protect its southern border with Nigeria.
Should Nigeria, the 4th biggest democracy on the planet with the world’s 9th largest proven oil reserve be concerned about two of the worlds most powerful militaries establishing a high tech military expeditionary alliance with virtually all of Nigeria’s neighbours?
Boko Haram is by and large a defeated force. Yes there are sporadic suicide attacks, but these smarks more of desperation for relevance and makes little strategic sense. Why would the U.S spend $100 million building a base in three countries to enable it carry ISR missions on a bunch of nomads with pickup trucks?
This new facility is the latest example of the United and France deepening military ties and investments in West Africa. In May the U.S signed a deal with Senegal, an ECOWAS member state to ease the deployment of U.S troops to the country.
France has a base in northern Niger and has 3,500 troops spread across Chad and Niger and operates an air force base in the Chadian capital N’djamena and Cameroon where it operates a Squadron of Mirage fighter jets.
The Americans operate a Drone Base in Garoua, a city in northern Cameroon. Garoua lies along the Benue River approximately 30 miles east of the Nigerian border. On October 15, 2015, the Obama administration notified Congress that it was sending 500 troops and Predator drones to Cameroon to help aid the fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria.
In May the Obama administration announced that it was sending a force of 200 personnel and a single Predator drone to Chad .
On February 22, 2013, President Obama notified Congress that it had deployed additional troops to Niger, where they would support French forces conducting counterterrorism operations in neighboring Mali. The U.S. has outgrown its sprawling military base in Niamey, Niger and has started building a second drone base in Agadez, Niger, some 450 miles to the north in the Sahara.