(Source:militarytimes.com – Kyle Rempfer ) – Report: AFRICOM looks to cut special ops missions, pull out hundreds of troops from Africa
The Pentagon is mulling plans to wind down special operations missions on the African continent and reassign troops to other, more in-demand regions.
The plans, submitted by a top U.S. military commander, align with the Trump administration’s strategy to focus on near-peer threats from countries like China and Russia.
“No decision has been officially made regarding the U.S. counterrorism forces operating in Africa,” a Pentagon press official told Military Times. “In light of the [2018 National Defense Strategy’s] updated priorities, the [DoD] is reviewing plans, operations, and military investments across the globe to develop the best options that address the evolving threat to U.S. national interests.”
“The optimization effort does not mean that we are going to walk away from counterterrorism in Africa, but that these efforts must be ‘right-sized’ to align with current security priorities,” the official added.
The Defense Department would reportedly focus the troop cuts and decreased missions on Central and West Africa, where U.S. special operations missions have focused on training up African host-nation forces to combat growing insurgencies from Islamist militants.
But that doesn’t mean the U.S. military presence in Africa is disappearing entirely.
“We’re not walking away,” said Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the leader of U.S. Africa Command who submitted the plans, in an interview this week with the New York Times, which first reported the story. Waldhauser added that the United States would still “reserve the right to unilaterally return” to protect American interests.
There are currently 6,000 U.S. troops strung throughout Africa, spread over 53 countries, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon in October.
The roughly 1,200 special operations troops on missions in Africa would be facing the most immediate drawdown, according to the Times’ interview.
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