July 19, 2024
Afghanistan 2.0? Pentagon Leaving Equipment Behind as it Withdraws Troops from Niger

Afghanistan 2.0? Pentagon Leaving Equipment Behind as it Withdraws Troops from Niger

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) The Defense Department has reportedly finished withdrawing troops from Air Base 101 in Niger, but about 500 of them will remain at the Pentagon’s six-year-old, $110 million U.S. air base that’s used for drone warfare.

Additionally, Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth Ekman said Friday that a number of small teams of 10-20 U.S. troops, including special operations forces, have moved to other countries in West Africa. But the bulk of the forces will go to Europe, at least initially.

Unlike the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Ekman insisted that the U.S. is not leaving useful equipment behind.

Ekman said that while portable buildings and vehicles that are no longer useful will be left behind when U.S. troops leave Niger, a lot of larger equipment will be pulled out. For example, he said 18 4,000-pound generators worth more than $1 million each will be taken out of Agadez.

However, Ekman also said that the U.S. isn’t destroying the infrastructure it built.

“Our goal in the execution is, leave things in as good a state as possible,” he said. “If we went out and left it a wreck or we went out spitefully, or if we destroyed things as we went, we’d be foreclosing options” for future security relations.

The Pentagon has a Sept. 15 deadline to complete its withdrawl. Under its agreement with Niger, two-thirds of U.S. troops and equipment must be out of the country by July 26.

The rupture in U.S.-Niger military cooperation followed last July’s ouster of the country’s democratically elected president by mutinous soldiers.

After that, the Biden State Department’s top official for African affairs, Molly Phee, allegedly threatened the new government from doing business with Iran and Russia—which didn’t sit well with the new prime minister, Lamine Zeine.

“When she finished, I said, ‘Madame, I am going to summarize in two points what you have said,’” Zeine said in a recent interview. “First, you have come here to threaten us in our country. That is unacceptable. And you have come here to tell us with whom we can have relationships, which is also unacceptable. And you have done it all with a condescending tone and a lack of respect.”

In March, Zeine’s government declared that the U.S. military presence there is “illegal.”

From there, conditions for U.S. troops began to deteriorate rapidly.

In a letter published last month by the Washington Post, an Army whistleblower accused Biden of endangering the troops’ lives by leaving them there against the wishes of the country’s new government.

The Pentagon has also said the U.S. will relocate most of the approximately 100 forces it has deployed in neighboring Chad for now. But talks are expected to resume next month about revising an agreement that allows U.S. troops to be based in Chad.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.


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