Niger – A Deadly Ambush’s Great Mystery: What Are We Doing in Niger?

As the mystery deepens about the deaths of four American soldiers in an ambush by extremists in Niger, President Trump has disavowed responsibility and put the onus on the military. It’s the same sort of cowardly dodge he attempted when a Navy SEAL died in a botched raid in Yemen in January.

It won’t wash. Like his predecessors — presidents who were strong enough to actually acknowledge their heavy responsibility — Mr. Trump is commander in chief, in charge of putting the armed forces in harm’s way. Ultimately he and his Pentagon will have to provide a full accounting not only of the operation but also of how it fits into a broader strategy for countering terrorists in Africa.

Continuer à lire … « Niger – A Deadly Ambush’s Great Mystery: What Are We Doing in Niger? »

Mali – French Army denies killing kidnapped Malian soldiers in raid

BAMAKO, Mali  The French military is denying claims by al-Qaida-linked militants in northern Mali that 11 kidnapped Malian soldiers died during a French raid earlier this week.

The militants released a statement Friday alleging that the soldiers died during a French military operation in Tin-bidene. The French armed forces’ press office told The Associated Press that the report is false, labelling it « propaganda coming from an armed terrorist group. »

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the militants’ claim, and there was no comment from Mali’s government.

APS

Niger – Niger is the perfect example of the US state of perma-war

The vast majority of Americans probably had no idea that the US even had military troops participating in combat missions in Africa before the incident in Niger in the beginning of October that left four American soldiers dead. But now the Trump administration is already planning to escalate lethal military operations in the country where the attack occurred – all with little debate.

Donald Trump has been involved in a bizarre public feud with the families of the fallen soldiers, which has dominated headlines and cable television for weeks. But there has been far less pointed questions about why the US military is fighting in Niger at all, and yet it seems likely that there’s about to be more US military presence in the country that will only make matters worse.

Continuer à lire … « Niger – Niger is the perfect example of the US state of perma-war »

Mali – Germany sends fourth Tiger helicopter to Mali

A fourth German Tiger combat helicopter was airlifted to Mali on 27 October, the Bundeswehr has announced. The partly dismantled helicopter was flown by Antonov An-124 from Leipzig to Bamako, where it is being reassembled before flying to Gao.

Continuer à lire … « Mali – Germany sends fourth Tiger helicopter to Mali »

Niger – It’s Not Just Niger — U.S. Military Activity Is a “Recruiting Tool” for Terror Groups Across West Africa

The mission never made the front page of the New York Times or the Washington Post. It wasn’t covered on CNN or Fox News. Neither the White House chief of staff, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, nor the president ever addressed it in a press briefing. But from mid-January to late March 2013, Green Berets from the 10th Special Forces Group deployed to the impoverished West African nation of Niger. Working alongside local forces, they trained in desert mobility, the use of heavy weapons, and methods of deliberate attack.

On May 15 of that year, another contingent of Special Forces soldiers arrived in Niger. For nearly two months, they also trained with local troops, focusing on similar combat skills with an emphasis on missions in remote areas. From the beginning of August until mid-September, yet another group of Green Berets traveled to the hot, arid country for training, concentrating on desert operations, heavy weapons employment, intelligence analysis, and other martial matters, according to Pentagon documents obtained by The Intercept via the Freedom of Information Act. Continuer à lire … « Niger – It’s Not Just Niger — U.S. Military Activity Is a “Recruiting Tool” for Terror Groups Across West Africa »

Niger – AFRICOM 2- star general tasked to lead Niger attack investigation

Military Times  – The two-star chief of staff for U.S. Africa Command has been assigned to lead the Army’s official investigation into the Niger ambush that led to the deaths of four U.S. soldiers earlier this month, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier, Jr. will lead the 15-6, as the Army’s investigation is commonly known, to answer why the 12-person U.S. special forces team and 30 Nigerien partnered forces ended up in an hours-long firefight with what the Pentagon suspects were Islamic State-affiliated militants. Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson and Sgt. La David Johnson died in the attack.

Dunford would not say whether the mission ultimately diverted from its original tasking and pursued an Islamic State target. He said as part of his review into the attack, he requested the original order that sent the troops on their Oct. 3 overnight mission. The unit was ambushed during their return to base the morning of Oct. 4.

“I read the original document that set that patrol out, and it was a patrol to go out and identify information about the local area. It was not targeted or focused on any specific Islamic State leader or location. Because that would have made the mission, enemy contact, more likely. The estimate at the time was enemy contact was not likely,” Dunford said to reporters traveling with him.

“What I don’t know, and what the investigation will find out is, ‘Did they have a change of mission at any given point? If so, how did they get that change of mission? Who approved that change of mission? What was that mission?’ Those are all things that I am seeing bits and pieces of, but honestly I wouldn’t say any of it is fact until the investigation is complete.”

Dunford said a normal line of duty investigation takes about three to four weeks, but he expected this would take longer, given the complexity of interviewing the Nigerien, French and U.S. forces and determining all of the facts on the ground.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also looking into the incident.

Mali – Islamist militants ‘taken out of action’ in Mali, says French military

The operation involved French Mirage jets, attack helicopters and forces on the ground, the spokesman said, although he would not provide details on how many of the 15 militants targeted had been killed or wounded.

France intervened in Mali to ward off an offensive by islamist militants that began in 2012. Around 4,000 of its troops remain in  the region as part of Operation Barkhane, where they work alongside 10,000 U.N peacekeepers in  Mali.

France 24 / Reuters