U.S. military forces in Africa are reportedly behind 36 offensives in various countries ranging from counterterrorism to psychological operations that are, or until recently, were, ongoing against jihadi groups like Boko Haram, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) West Africa offshoot, and al-Qaeda.
“The code-named operations cover a variety of different military missions, ranging from psychological operations to counterterrorism,” Yahoo News reported Wednesday.
Yahoo News revealed:
Between 2013 and 2017, U.S. special operations forces saw combat in at least 13 African countries, according to retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, who served at U.S. Africa Command from 2013 to 2015 and then headed Special Operations Command Africa until 2017. Those countries, according to Bolduc, are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, and Tunisia. He added that U.S. troops have been killed or wounded in action in at least six of them: Kenya, Libya, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, and Tunisia.
Through “documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, interviews, published reports and a Pentagon list of named U.S. military operations that leaked online,” Yahoo News learned the name and brief description of each of the 36 operations.
Many of the U.S. military operations are reportedly taking place in African nations that the United States does not consider a combat zone. Nevertheless, American troops engaging there are incurring casualties in combat.
In December, the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), issued by the Institute for Economics and Peace and often cited by the U.S. State Department, revealed that several African countries proved immune to 2017’s decrease in terrorism-linked deaths across most of the world.
Five African countries — Somalia, Egypt, Central African Republic, Mali, and Kenya – experienced some of the “largest increases in deaths from terrorism” from 2016 to 2017, the GTI said.
Some of those countries are home to U.S. operations against al-Qaeda, the ISIS Sinai wing, Boko Haram, and other terrorists.
Despite the ongoing jihadi threat and the growing influence of U.S. peer rivals like China and Russia in Africa, the United States is expected to reduce its military presence on the continent by about 700 troops as part of U.S. President Donald Trump’s shift in policy, prioritizing Russia and China over the war on terror.
Top U.S. military officials have said they would recommend a stop to the reduction of American troops in African is necessary.
Early this year, U.S. Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, told Voice of America that the United States is “not winning” in Africa’s Sahel region, home to an al-Qaeda branch that is considered one of the wealthiest wings of the terrorist group due to its links to drug trafficking in Latin America.
Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) chief, downplayed the recent reductions in troops this year when testifying before lawmakers in March, saying they will not impact America’s counterterrorism fight on the continent.