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Pentagon Expands Permanent Africa Presence With $110M Drone Base In Niger

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Originally appeared at ZeroHedge

Signaling what will be a major uptick in US drone activity across western Africa, US African Command (AFRICOM) announced Friday its airbase Agadez, Niger has gone operational, not just flying surveillance drones as was originally expected, but also armed combat drones.

Flights from the base, called Air Base 201, began last week and the patrols are to aid US-Nigerien military patrols in rooting out regional ISIS militants and other Islamist factions which have been threatening the area. Specifically US officials say the armed drone program is badly needed due to prior ISIS ambushes on US-Nigerien troops.

Pentagon Expands Permanent Africa Presence With $110M Drone Base In Niger

File image of French drone in Niamey, Niger via AFP/Getty

The Air Force Times described on the biggest deadly such attack:

The move comes a little more than two years after four Army soldiers were killed on Oct. 4, 2017, in an attack on a joint U.S.-Nigerien military patrol by an ISIS offshoot known as Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

The US Air Force, which has described the $110 million constructed airfield as among the harshest locations in the world from which the military operates, endured multiple delays in establishing the base given the difficult remote desert environment.

“I would say that the construction of Air Base 201 will go down as one of the most Herculean efforts in the history of the United States Air Force,” Brig. Gen. Michael Rawls of the Air Force’s 435th Air Expeditionary Wing in Africa described earlier this year.

Pentagon Expands Permanent Africa Presence With $110M Drone Base In Niger

U.S. and Niger flags raised side by side at the base camp for construction of Niger Air Base 201 in Agadez, Niger. Via AP/Air Force Times

The new airfield can reportedly allow surveillance and reconnaissance across the extensive Lake Chad Basin area, which includes Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger.

This will no doubt further commit the Pentagon to a long-term presence in Niger amid continued broader AFRICOM expansion.

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Mike

They are there to train and arm terrorist, so that the U.S. can then claim that their presence is justified, justified is stealing resources under the cover of war on terror BS.

Peter Jennings

Nothing to do with oil and the natural resources in the region, and the approaching Chinese, no siree.
The base is only useful for as long as US forces are allowed to use it. The US and other old colonial countries still pillaging, have some competition coming who have very deep pockets and a better attitude. Money talks in Africa as it does everywhere else.

Davki

Ah, Niger… one of the poorest countries in Africa, the one France gets almost all of its Uranium from. Yepp, plant a few terrorists there, then make sure they stay… ah, sorry, combat them. With drones. Has been shown to work. 90+% collateral damage. So this is were all the military spending goes (40% up since the height of the Iraq war).

Redadmiral

Paid for with stolen Syrian oil. ” On October 26, the Russian Defence Ministry held a briefing, revealing that Russian military intelligence had discovered that “leading American corporations,” working together with private military contractors and supported by US special forces and air power, were generating over $30 million a month in revenues by smuggling out of Syria from the oil-rich province of Deir ez-Zor.” AMN News

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