Special to USAfricaonline.com
Washington (AFP) – The Pentagon is looking into reducing or even withdrawing US troops from West Africa, part of a worldwide redeployment of military forces, the New York Times has reported.
There are between 6,000 and 7,000 US troops in Africa, mainly in West Africa but also in places like Somalia.
The US presence includes military trainers as well as a recently built $110 million drone base in Niger, the Times said.
A withdrawal would also end US support for French military efforts in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in their war along with local troops against Al-Qaeda and Islamic State group jihadists.
The Pentagon supports them by providing intelligence, logistical support and aerial refueling at an annual cost to the Pentagon of some $45 million a year, the Times said.
France has had a major military presence in Mali since 2013, when it launched an intervention against Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists who had overrun the country’s north.
France then launched a regional counter-terrorism operation and prodded five countries — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Mali and Niger — to set up their own joint force.
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is studying a global redeployment of US forces with a decreased emphasis on anti-terrorism operations and a stronger emphasis on confronting China and Russia, the newspaper said.
No decision on the matter was likely before January, it added.
The Pentagon had no immediate comment when contacted by AFP.
President Donald Trump has often promised to halt the US’s “endless wars.”
He has already ordered a significant reduction of US troops deployed in Syria, and is on track to do the same in Afghanistan.
Some 13,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan.