Nightmare in Niger — Exclusive: Biden Administration Leaves Hundreds of U.S. Troops ‘Hostage’ in Niger

Protesters react as a man holds up a sign demanding that soldiers from the United States A
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More than 1,000 U.S. troops are effectively being held “hostage” in Niger with medical supplies running low — stuck between the military junta-controlled government’s demands for them to leave and the Biden administration’s refusal to let them go home after the end of their deployments, according to a report prepared by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and obtained exclusively by Breitbart News.

In addition, the report accuses Biden administration officials of trying to cover up the situation to lawmakers, as well as to troops deployed there and their families anxiously awaiting their return.

“Our troops are currently sitting on a powder keg caused by political indecision at the top of the Department of State and Department of Defense. With a military junta in charge — who detests our presence and considers us unserious and predatory — the situation seems to be setting the groundwork for catastrophic diplomatic collapse like we saw during the 2012 Benghazi attack. Additionally, these troops are already running short on necessary, life-saving supplies, such as blood and medications,” the report by Gaetz’s office said.

“They are, in effect, hostages of an indecisive Commander-in-Chief,” the report said.

The report is based on interviews by Gaetz’s office with troops currently stationed in Niger, who reached out to Gaetz’s office after they did not receive assistance from the Departments of Defense and State.

The service members are currently deployed to Airbase 101 (AB101) in the capital of Niger, Niamey, as part of the 768th Expeditionary Airbase Squadron (768 EABS), which is comprised of active duty and reserve forces, Air National Guard airmen, Army Special Forces and contract support. There are about 450 personnel at Air Base 101. Until the takeover by the junta, the base was a major hub for U.S. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) against terrorist groups Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State in West Africa, Boko Haram, and Ansaru. It was also a hub for U.S. military advisers supporting Niger’s forces.

The U.S. troop presence became threatened after the military junta, known as the Conseil National pour la Sauvegarde de la Patrie (CNSP), or the National Council for the Safeguard of the Fatherland, declared it had taken over the country on July 26, 2023. Just a few months before, Secretary of State Antony Blinken had praised Niger as “a model of resilience, a model of democracy, a model of cooperation.”

The junta declared in March 2024 a cancellation of the military accords with the U.S., after a series of meetings with Assistant Secretary of State Molly Phee and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Commander Marine Gen. Michael Langley, according to the report.

“This deterioration of diplomatic arrangements has led to our service members being caught in the middle of a standoff between an inept Department of State and a U.S.-trained Nigerian coup-force. This breakdown has led to total cessation of diplomatic clearance overflights, preventing the delivery of mail, necessary medical supplies, blood to replenish the blood bank (which requires constant turnover due to expiration windows), equipment and repair supplies; and other routine materiel from the United States,” the report said.

“Personnel rotations for service members have been halted, leaving our troops stranded without any indication of relief or return home, as replacements [aren’t] authorized to enter Niger,” it added.

Niger Report by Kristina Wong on Scribd

The report said American contractors who maintain the American base have also been prohibited from entering the country, and that conditions are deteriorating as existing contractors leave as their visas expire. In addition, Niger is prohibiting other allies in the country from providing relief or logistics support to U.S. troops. “There is no end in sight,” the report said.

The report noted that the troops are in a precarious situation, with the government expressing its demand for U.S. troops to leave and the local population increasingly wondering “Why is the U.S. here?” It also noted that tension with the United States has escalated since France’s departure, leaving the U.S. as the main western presence to oppose.

Perhaps most concerning is that medical supplies are running low. The blood bank at AB101 — which needs constant replenishment due to routine expiration — is not being rotated for use in the event of a mass casualty or medical emergency, the report said. In addition, service members who require medication for acute or chronic issues are facing the depletion of their prescriptions with no resupply in sight, the report said. Malaria medication is also running low.

One senior officer at AB101 said, “On average, throughout the [Expeditionary Air Base Squadron], each person has an average of 23 days of medication left. The fewest amount is 7 and the highest is 80 pills. Role 1 (Medical) has 1800 pills in stock which equates to a 9-day supply if each EABS member were given an equal number of pills. One consideration, it is illegal to share prescription medication even if it is the same type of medicine.”

Gaetz’s report noted that just last month, a senior defense official seemed to downplay the seriousness of the situation.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Celeste Ann Wallander testified to Congress in March that the junta’s demands for U.S. troops to leave “is actually quite a mixed message.”

“They have declared this [Status of Forces Agreement] to be non-operational, [but] they have assured us that American military forces are protected, and they will take no action that would endanger them,” she said.

In addition, Gaetz’s report said the Biden administration has been hiding the real number of U.S. troops in Niger.

The administration on December 7, 2023, claimed in a report to Congress that there were “approximately 648 military personnel” in Niger. However, the report said that the number remains “closer to 1,100 DoD-affiliated persons” between two locations in Niger, AB101 and Air Base 201 (AB201), outside the Nigerian city of Agadez.

The report also described a “disjointed” Biden administration response, with the Departments of Defense and State “not on the same page,” and AFRICOM and U.S. Air Force Europe-Air Force Europe-Air Force Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) blaming other departments, agencies, and commands.

“Meanwhile, no cohesive intelligence picture is agreed upon; no planning on that understanding is occurring; and no clear guidance or the next steps for AB101 or AB201 are being issued. This leaves the ground force commander(s) and his staff(s) with complete uncertainty about what to expect,” the report said.

The report said Ambassador Kathleen FitzGibbon and Senior Defense Official/Defense Attaché (SDO/DATT) Colonel Nora Nelson-Richter are covering up the failure of the administration’s diplomatic approach and suppressing intelligence assessments.

Nelson-Richter has been one of “the main actors knowingly lying about the diplomatic reality,” the report said.

The report also exposes other concerning issues, such as U.S. taxpayers continuing to fund the U.S. military presence in Niger at nearly $1 million per month, while service members are prevented from doing their jobs and essentially sitting idle. That amount includes food and water for service members that do not pass U.S. standards for edibility or potability.

According to the report, service members at AB101 are also concerned about the camp running “exceedingly low on personal hygiene supplies, with only a few days’ or weeks’ worth remaining for a camp of over 400.”

To add insult to injury, unidentified “near-peer adversaries” — believed to be Russian forces — are given “unfettered access” to Niger.

“Our near-peer adversaries are gaining unfettered access to Niger while our Department of State misrepresents the truth and intentionally buries assessments of our intelligence experts in the region to maintain the façade,” the report said.

Gaetz, during a congressional hearing on Tuesday, slammed Army leaders for leaving U.S. soldiers in harm’s way.

“I will tell you that I’m not tracking that anybody is, somebody in Niger is not getting their medicine or their mail, but I will follow up after this,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George on Tuesday under questioning by Gaetz.

“We’ve received reports that they’ve run out of medicine in May,” Gaetz retorted.

“And you know why you don’t know that? Because it’s a cover-up. Because the U.S. Embassy in Niger is covering it up because of Secretary Blinken’s embarrassment. Because Blinken went there in March of 2023 and said this was the centerpiece of our Africa strategy…I’m looking at what could erupt as another Benghazi,” Gaetz said.

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