US to remove hundreds of troops from Nigeria, Libya, others
Over the next few years, the United States will remove hundred troops from its Africom as it focuses on countering threats from Russia and China, the Pentagon has said.
In a statement on Thursday, on Force Optimization, Pentagon said this is a form of realignment for counter violent extremism
“The Department of Defense announced today the realignment of Counter-Violent Extremist Organization personnel operating in U.S. Africa Command to support priorities outlined in the National Defense Strategy. Over the next several years, the realignment projects a reduction of less than 10 percent of the 7,200 military forces serving in Africa Command.
Optimization preserves the majority of U.S. security cooperation partnerships and programs in Africa to strengthen partner networks, enhance partner capability and support ongoing programs. C-VEO activities in several areas, including Somalia, Djibouti and Libya largely remain the same. In other regions, such as West Africa, emphasis shifts from tactical assistance to advising, assisting, liaising, and sharing intelligence.
Overall, optimization efforts retain the flexibility to adjust, as required, to maintain a competitive posture in a dynamic, global environment”, said Pentagon on its website.
Around 700 counter-terrorism troops will be removed over the next few years, the Department of Defense said.
About 7,200 US soldiers are currently based in dozens of African countries including Nigeria and Libya.
There will now be a shift away from tactical assistance to advising and sharing intelligence in West Africa
However, counter-terrorism activities in several countries including Somalia and Djibouti will remain largely the same.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters, said the reduction of troops would likely take place over three years and could include countries such as Kenya, Cameroon and Mali.
Pentagon spokeswoman Candice Tresch said: “We will realign our counter-terrorism resources and forces operating in Africa over the next several years in order to maintain a competitive posture worldwide.”
A military official said an attack in Niger in October 2017 in which four US troops were killed did not play a role in the decision to cut troops, the Voice of America reports.
The move comes as US President Donald Trump works to implement his National Defense Strategy, which ushers in a new era of “Great Power competition” with Moscow and Beijing.
On Wednesday, a bipartisan congressional panel reviewing the strategy said America’s focus on counter-insurgency operations had weakened its military capability.