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US Army weakens its commitment to Africa

West & Central Africa

US Army weakens its commitment to Africa

The Pentagon is said to be considering pulling out most US soldiers from the Sahel region of Africa, especially in Niger where the US has drones and where four Green Barrettes were ambushed and killed in October last year.

The move will also shut down its elite counter-terrorism units in Africa also all military outposts in Cameroon, Kenya, Libya and Tunisia will be pulled out if Defence Secretary Jim Mattis endorses the plan, according to  The New York Times.

Nigerian Army arrests suspected Fulani herdsmen in Dorowa, near Jos. Photo/Author

US will however maintain its military presence in Nigeria and Somalia in what is reported as America’s strategy on mainly focusing on potential large-scale fighting rather than the difficult task of battling elusive Al Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram insurgents in the region. All the terrorist groups, including Fulani Cattle herdsmen have killed over half a million people in the sub Saharan region according to unofficial records. UN records puts the deaths by Boko Haram to 200,000 at at 2015. Many more people have been killed since then. In Nigeria, Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen have killed over 6000 people in the predominantly Christian communities in the northeast and middle belt regions of the country in 2018 according to the Christian Association of Nigeria.

General Thomas Waldhauser, head of the African Command (AFRICOM), had told the Times that U.S. will not just “walk away” but will train the local forces in counter-terrorism operations. This follows the argument that African countries are now have capable counter-terrorism forces and permanent US presence is no longer needed.

Fearing that the plan will diminish US influence in the region where China and Russia are expanding trades and political influence, some defence officials are opposing the plan.

Following the idea of training local armies to fight the insurgencies in Africa themselves, Theresa May, British Prime Minister said Britain will give additional support for the African Union’s Mission in Somalia, during her visit to Nigeria on Wednesday, August 29. The British government said it is putting forward “a series of new initiatives to help Nigeria defeat Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa” and “stop this regional menace from spreading and posing a direct threat to the U.K.”

New British Prime Minister Theresa May

The British initiative will “expand its provision of equipment and training for the Nigerian military to help them protect themselves from the threat of improvised explosive devices.” The Nigerian army will be trained and equipped “to combat Boko Haram’s insurgency-style tactics.” Additionally, the U.K. has offered to train full army units before they deploy, giving the units “a shared understanding and experience that will make them better able to defeat the enemy.” Over 30,000 Nigerian troops have already been trained by the British army since 2015.

Britain will spend £13 million in Nigeria to educate 100,000 children living in conflict zone “working with communities to push out counter-narratives and drawing on the U.K.’s experience of countering terrorist propaganda.” While the US and UK are focussed on counter-terrorism against the Islamist group Boko Haram neither of the allies have addressed concern over the Fulani herdsmen militia which has killed more people in 2018 than the notorious terror group.

Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos Image credits/Google Images/Fulani Militia-Author/Theresa May/US Army

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