Africa Command Deploys 100 Service Members to Niger
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2013 President Barack Obama notified congressional leaders today that the last of 100 U.S. military specialists have deployed to Niger to support intelligence efforts in the region.
The move is done with Niger’s full consent and cooperation and the troops -- mostly Air Force specialists -- are working out of Niamey, officials said.
Forty troops moved to the area on Feb. 20. “This deployment will provide support for intelligence collection and will also facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region,” Obama wrote in his letter to congressional leaders.
The troops will provide their own force protection and security.
U.S. Africa Command recommended placing unarmed remotely piloted aircraft in Niger to support a range of regional security missions and engagements with partner nations. Last month, the United States and Niger signed an agreement on the status of American forces in Niger.
Al-Qaida and other extremist groups have been operating in neighboring Mali. The deployment is designed to promote regional stability in support of U.S. diplomacy and national security, and to strengthen relationships with regional leaders committed to security and prosperity, Pentagon officials said.
The Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets provide vital capabilities to the United States, African partners and other partners in the region. The unarmed UAVs “provide an unrivaled capability to harness information and make it useful to commanders,” officials said.