Friday, April 27, 2018

Pursuing Jihadis to the Ends of the Earth

AFRICOM will be busier next year from a new base in Agadez, Niger:

On the scorching edge of the Sahara Desert, the U.S. Air Force is building a base for armed drones, the newest front in America's battle against the growing extremist threat in Africa's vast Sahel region.

Three hangars and the first layers of a runway command a sandy, barren field. Niger Air Base 201 is expected to be functional early next year. The base, a few miles outside Agadez and built at the request of Niger's government, will eventually house fighter jets and MQ-9 drones transferred from the capital Niamey. The drones, with surveillance and added striking capabilities, will have a range enabling them to reach a number of West and North African countries.

The author notes that the deployment and activity are little known.

Not that they are not knowable. I've known for a while. But I pay attention.

The base at the intersection of No and Where is a reminder that while I believe The AFRICOM Queen would be a useful tool for AFRICOM missions, large areas of the large African continent are far from the littorals and so beyond the reach of sea-based assets.

Although it could be the source of reinforcements and equipment for inland missions if shipped across the land, either by air or land links, once off-loaded from the ship.

It's best to kill off jihadis early before they can really kick off a terrorism campaign or gain territory to be a sanctuary and possible caliphate.

UPDATE: Jihadis are setting up shop in the region:

From the shores of Lake Chad, Islamic State's West African ally is on a mission: winning over the local people.

Digging wells, giving out seeds and fertilizer and providing safe pasture for herders are among the inducements offered by Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), which split from Nigeria's Boko Haram in 2016.

It is sad that people fall for this, and when it is too late find that beheadings and rape are inflicted instead of trying to win hearts and minds.

Also, our activities are so little known that I think a reporter at a joint press conference on April 30 on the occasion of the visit of Nigeria's president to America mixed up Niger and Nigeria by asking a puzzled Nigerian president if he was fine with America's military presence in his country.