The United States says it will build a Drone base in Niger, a country located between Nigeria and Libya in Africa, which it describes as the “most important military project in Africa.” Drone technology will help the US with intelligence to combat extremist Islamist terrorist groups.
Pentagon spokeswoman Michelle Baldanza says Unites States “has negotiated an agreement with the government of Niger to allow for the construction of a new runway and all associated pavements facilities and infrastructure,”. This project, according to the US, will cost $50 million. However, leaked documents say the United states will be spending up to $100 million. It is said that the base will be used for the US air force’s MQ-9 Reaper drones, which
will replace the MQ-1 Predator model.
AFRICOM, The United States Africa Command had since 2014 muted the idea of the project looking at “assessing the possibility of establishing a temporary, expeditionary contingency support location” there. A communiqué said the base in Niger, “presents an attractive option from which to base ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) assets given its proximity to the threats in the region and the complexity of operating with the vast distance of African geography.”
Independent security analyst Ryan Cummings said to Deuche Welles, ”There will be much focus on reconnaissance in these initiatives,” he told DW. “You’ll probably find that in certain areas the mandate of these drones will differ. We have seen that in So
malia, for example, the United States uses drones for more offensive mandates against the al-Shabab Islamic extremist movement, but they might not necessarily replicate the same form of mandate in other countries where you already have international assistance in the form of counterterrorism operations.”
The United States has run reconnaissance flights around the northeastern Nigeria, assisting the Joint Multi National Forces combatting Boko Haram with aerial pictures of Boko Haram activities especially around the Sambissa forest that spans the Nigerian and Cameroonian borders.