More Genius! U.S. Withdrawing from Niger Leaving Military Equipment Behind, Again!

Written by Jacob Thompson.

The Defense Department has recently concluded its withdrawal of troops from Air Base 101 in Niger. However, about 500 personnel will stay at the $110 million U.S. air base, a crucial site for drone operations. Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth Ekman confirmed that small teams of 10-20 U.S. troops, including special operations forces, have been redeployed to other West African countries, while the majority will initially move to Europe.

Ekman assured that this withdrawal will differ from the chaotic exit from Afghanistan, emphasizing that the U.S. will not abandon useful equipment. He explained that while portable buildings and outdated vehicles will be left behind, significant equipment, like 18 4,000-pound generators worth over $1 million each, will be removed from Agadez. Ekman highlighted the intention to maintain the infrastructure built by the U.S., aiming to leave the area in good condition for future security relations.

“Our goal in the execution is, leave things in as good a state as possible,” he stated. “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.

Strained Relations and Political Turmoil

The Pentagon has set a September 15 deadline to complete the withdrawal, with a requirement to remove two-thirds of U.S. troops and equipment by July 26. The disruption in U.S.-Niger military cooperation followed the ousting of Niger’s democratically elected president by mutinous soldiers last July, significantly straining relations between the two nations.

After the coup, Molly Phee, the Biden State Department’s top official for African affairs, allegedly issued threats to the new government against engaging with Iran and Russia. This confrontation did not sit well with Niger’s new prime minister, Lamine Zeine. In a recent interview, Zeine recounted his response to Phee’s threats: “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 the U.S. military presence illegal, rapidly deteriorating conditions for U.S. troops. An Army whistleblower, in a letter published by the Washington Post, accused President Biden of endangering troops by keeping them in Niger against the new government’s wishes.

Future Moves and Diplomatic Challenges

The Pentagon has also announced the relocation of most of the 100 troops currently deployed in neighboring Chad. Future negotiations are anticipated to revise the agreement permitting U.S. troops to be based in Chad. The initial move signals the beginning of a broader strategic realignment in West Africa, addressing both immediate security concerns and long-term diplomatic relations.

The U.S. aims to maintain its strategic footprint while respecting the sovereignty of host nations. However, this delicate balance requires careful navigation of complex political landscapes. The situation in Niger highlights the challenges of foreign military presence in volatile regions, emphasizing the importance of clear agreements and mutual respect between nations.

Our Take

The U.S. withdrawal from Niger is reminiscent of the Afghanistan fiasco, despite assurances otherwise. Leaving behind equipment and altering our military strategy in volatile regions is risky and might lead to unforeseen consequences. The Biden administration’s approach appears short-sighted, potentially jeopardizing both U.S. interests and regional stability.

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