In Niger on October 3, 2017, twelve members of a US Special Operations Task Force and 30 Nigerien soldiers on a secret mission were ambushed by fifty attackers, believed to be ISIS-affiliated terrorists, leaving four US soldiers dead. The deaths of these soldiers were eventually announced to the public, leading to inevitable questions about what twelve members of the US Special Operations Task Force were doing in Niger. As William Rivers Pitt reported for Truthout, based on previous reports by Betsy Woodruff for the Daily Beast and Nick Turse for Vice News, “the US has roughly 1,000 troops stationed in Niger” and about “6,000 troops spread throughout virtually every country in Africa… carrying out approximately 100 missions… there are now more special operations personnel devoted to Africa than anywhere except the Middle East.”
US military involvement in Africa mirrors its involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria with the White House claiming US troops overseas are fighting “terrorists.” However, according to Truthout’s William Rivers Pitt, the real purpose for the 6,000 soldiers secretly fighting in Africa for the past ten years is “to provide security for mines and other highly lucrative operations” that aim to “plumb the continent for its vast resources.”
This trend has resulted in some African governments becoming controlled by the mercenary armies, leaving citizens powerless. A significant number of the residents in the path of the fighting lose their homes, families, and lives. They are too often tortured, raped, or killed by the soldiers of a passing mercenary group with no government to protect them. Young children are recruited to join mercenary armies and women are often targeted and taken as sex slaves. Many areas are in complete turmoil with little hope of stemming the violence.
As expected, the corporate media has sugarcoated US involvement in Africa. AFRICOM, the military command in charge of the United States’ involvement in Africa claims that its mission is focused on “eliminating terrorism and advancing security in the region.” Corporate media follow suit, as can be seen in an October 2017 NBC News report in which one of NBC’s analysts, former Bush administration counterterrorism advisor Juan Zarate, described West Africa as “another jihadi playground” that requires containment, lest the threats there “metastasize and grow regionally and more globally.” Also in October 2017, CBS reported that “many of those troops are there to support African partners, alongside allies like France, with the goal of increasing the African nations’ own security capabilities and stabilizing the region” while also serving as “a key outpost for surveillance and combat operations against al Qaeda and other extremist groups in the region.”
William Rivers Pitt, “The US, Africa and a New Century of War”, Truthout, October 26th, 2017, http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/42385-the-us-africa-and-a-new-century-of-war.
Betsy Woodruff, “Senators Stunned to Discover We Have 1,000 Troops in Niger,” Daily Beast, October 22, 2017, https://www.thedailybeast.com/senators-are-stunned-to-discover-we-have-1000-troops-in-niger.
Nick Turse, “The War You’ve Never Heard of,” Vice News, May 18, 2017, https://news.vice.com/en_ca/article/nedy3w/the-u-s-is-waging-a-massive-shadow-war-in-africa-exclusive-documents-reveal.
Student Researcher: Havin Lim and Stephanie Rickher (Diablo Valley College)
Faculty Advisor: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)
Editor’s Note: For some of Project Censored’s previous coverage of US military involvement in Africa, see “US Military Forces Deployed in Seventy Percent of World’s Nations,” story #1 in Censored 2017, and “AFRICOM: US Military Control of Africa’s Resources,” story #3 in Censored 2008.