World

Pentagon weighs pulling U.S. troops from West Africa: report

AFP-JIJI

The Pentagon is looking into reducing or even withdrawing U.S. troops from West Africa, part of a worldwide redeployment of military forces, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

There are between 6,000 and 7,000 U.S. troops in Africa, mainly in West Africa but also in places like Somalia.

The U.S. presence includes military trainers as well as a recently built $110 million drone base in Niger, the Times said.

A withdrawal would also end U.S. support for French military efforts in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in their war along with local troops against al-Qaida and Islamic State group jihadis.

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-Qaida-linked jihadis who had overrun the country’s north.

France then launched a regional counterterrorism operation and prodded five countries — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Mali and Niger — to set up their own joint force.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is studying a global redeployment of U.S. 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 U.S.’s “endless wars.”

He has already ordered a significant reduction of U.S. troops deployed in Syria, and is on track to do the same in Afghanistan.

Some 13,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan.

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