As war widens in Africa, body bags begin to fly home

| October 25, 2017
Soldiers and medics work to help wounded military personnel in Niger.

Soldiers and medics work to help wounded military personnel in Niger.

(GIN)—A funeral was held over the past weekend for Sgt. La David Johnson, killed in a country few could find on a map and for a war that few lawmakers knew anything about.

Sgt. Johnson, a Floridian, was one of a dozen Special Operations and Green Beret forces who, along with 30 Nigerien soldiers, were in southwestern Niger on Oct. 4 in an effort to track down a former member of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa. As the team departed, they were ambushed by members of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

Four from the U.S. team died in the skirmish as did five Nigerian soldiers. Two Americans were wounded.

“It turns out that this village was a little contaminated by hostile forces,” said Moussa Aksar, a terrorism specialist interviewed by Voice of America. “The unit stayed a little longer than expected because apparently people were aware that something was going on.”

Some 800 U.S. service members are in Niger supporting a French-led mission to defeat the Islamic State, al-Qaida and Boko Haram. The U.S. has drone bases in Niger as well as significant intelligence resources.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the American people, including the families of the fallen soldiers in Niger, deserve answers about this month’s deadly ambush.

But, investigative journalist Nick Turse said there is much more to this story.  Writing for Vice news, Turse said: “Today, special operators are carrying out nearly 100 missions at any given time—in Africa alone. It’s the latest sign of the military’s quiet but ever-expanding presence on the continent, one that represents the most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops to any region of the globe.”

He continued: “In 2006, just one percent of all U.S. commandos deployed overseas were in Africa. In 2010, it was three percent. By 2016, that number had jumped to more than 17 percent.

“In fact, there are now more special operations personnel devoted to Africa than anywhere except the Middle East.”

Overall, there are about 6,000 U.S. troops across the African continent. More than half are in Djibouti, with others in Tunisia, Senegal and Somalia.

In a report obtained by Turse, U.S. Army general Donald Bolduc, who runs the special operations command in Africa (SOCAFRICA) admits: “Africa’s challenges could create a threat that surpasses the threat that the United States currently faces from conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.”

“We owe the American people an explanation of what their men and women were doing at this particular time,” Dunford said. “And when I say that, I mean men and women in harm’s way anywhere in the world—they should know what the mission is and what we’re trying to accomplish when we’re there.”

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Africa Briefs

About the Author ()

GLOBAL INFORMATION NETWORK distributes news and feature articles on Africa and the developing world to mainstream, alternative, ethnic and minority-owned outlets in the U.S. and Canada. Our goal is to increase the perspectives available to readers in North America and to bring into their view information about global issues that are overlooked or under-reported by mainstream media.

Comments are closed.