Updated: March 1, 2021
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The Trump administration would withdraw nearly all American commandos from Niger and shut down most elite counterterrorism units across Africa, if Defense Secretary Jim Mattis approves the plans, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
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The Times quoted three Defense Department officials as saying that if approved by Secretary Mattis, the Pentagon would close military outposts in Tunisia, Cameroon, Libya and Kenya, as well as seven of the eight American elite counterterrorism units operating in Africa.
According to The Times, “To comply with the proposed change, the United States Africa Command will reassign hundtreds of American troops that are currently spread across the continent. That move is expected to be carried out over the next 18 to 36 months, but one Defense Department official said the timeline was likely to be accelerated once the proposal was approved and final”.
President Donald Trump has never hidden his disdain for Africa and his willingness to completely break from Barack Obama’s father’s continent.
Early this year, American news outlets reported that he described African countries as “shithole” places, and wondered why the United States would not accept more white immigrants from Norway.
Last week, he was quoted as calling the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari as lifeless during a White House meeting in April.
His move to end alliances with Africa may not surprise many people.
The decision to withdraw U.S. forces in Africa comes in the wake of a deadly October ambush that killed four United States soldiers in Niger.
According to The Times, the shift in forces is part of the Pentagon’s defense strategy to focus on threats from China and Russia.
“The proposal does not say that any additional troops would return to Africa even as Special Operations units gradually draw down. Officials said that could reverse progress that has been made against Al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates, while diminishing alliances across Africa as both Russia and China move to increase their influence,” The Times wrote.
However, there would still be a robust American military presence in Nigeria and Somalia.