U.S. military documents reveal new information about an American drone base under construction on the outskirts of the city. ...
The base is the latest sign, experts say, of an ever-increasing emphasis on counterterror operations in the north and west of the continent. As the only country in the region willing to allow a U.S. base for MQ-9 Reapers — a newer, larger, and potentially more lethal model than the venerable Predator drone — Niger has positioned itself to be the key regional hub for U.S. military operations, with Agadez serving as the premier outpost for launching intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions against a plethora of terror groups.
For years, the U.S. operated from an air base in Niamey, Niger’s capital, but in early 2014, Capt. Rick Cook, then chief of U.S. Africa Command’s Engineer Division, mentioned the potential for a new “semi-permanent … base-like facility” in Niger.
In the aftermath of the Libya War, jihadis fanned out into this region (pulling France into Mali to restore the situation there), so there is a need for help in fighting jihadis. America's Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the entity that leads in this region.
And we refuse to call this facility a "base" to avoid the notion that we have established a permanent military presence on the continent (AFRICOM's headquarters is in Germany). This was a sensitive concern for locals when AFRICOM was established. Yes, we've had a base-like facility in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa for some time, but I've thought of it as more of a CENTCOM asset. There is no doubt that the facility in Niger is in Africa.
This can also be considered a forward outpost in defense of Europe if it disrupts people smuggling that funnels migrants fleeing the effects of jihadi infestation to the southern shores of Europe.
This is part of a growing capacity of Africa Command to assist local governments take on jihadis and other threats to state cohesion in Africa:
U.S. Army Africa is focused on the long-term effort to assist African security partners in building and expanding the land power network across Africa. This supports the fight to counter violent extremist organizations (VEOs) and increases regional security, but requires a whole of government approach to implement.
In support of the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Africa Command, USARAF facilitates the building of African security institutions that enable counter-VEO efforts and provide security conditions that will support economic prosperity and expansion of human rights as well as the rule of law.
Africa is a big continent with a long shoreline. I think that a Modularized Auxiliary Cruiser outfitted with drones, helicopters, special forces, and light infantry could provide a mobile base-like facility to project land and air power ashore for these missions.
UPDATE: More on the future base (and our base in Djibouti) from Strategypage.