Georgia soldier among three Green Berets killed in West Africa
Oct 07 2017
A USA military official said the US military has been operating in that area to help the local forces fight terrorism and to disrupt these rat lines.
Most of the US troops were Army special forces, but the soldier found Friday was not a Green Beret, other USA officials said.
Analysts are awaiting the political fallout of Wednesday's ambush with some speculating it may spark a reversal of the US stance on a new regional force - known as the G5 Sahel - which France is pushing but which Washington is cool on.
According to the sources, one soldier form Niger was also killed in the attack.
In a press conference at the Pentagon Thursday, Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie defended the USA presence in the country. For years, the USA army has offered training to the Niger's soldiers to enable them to fight the Islamist militants that have dominated the North Africa region including Mali, Niger, and Nigeria. The U.S. has also provided aircraft and military hardware to Niger in recent years.
Nigerien service members reacting to contact during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, on March 3, 2017. The U.N. has a 13,000-strong peacekeeping force, known as MINUSMA, in neighboring Mali.
He said there were about a dozen USA forces accompanying a company of Niger troops, for a total of about 40 service members in the joint mission.
The incident is under investigation.
Niger is the main highway on the human trafficking route used by African migrants desperate to reach Europe via Libya.
They are most active in neighbouring Mali, where French troops intervened in 2013 to prevent them from advancing on the capital.
France sent forces at the request of the Malian government and helped drive extremists, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine, and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, out of the main towns.
Officials have said the attack occurred during an "advise and assist" mission, a broad term that critics say undercuts the danger associated with training partner nations using only small numbers of troops near militant strongholds. The same groups are believed to have carried out an attack on a restaurant in Ouagadougou in August that killed 18 people.
Washington has long seen the Sahel as a security threat but involvement increased in the wake of a 2012 occupation of northern Mali by Islamist militants.
A spokeswoman for the French Ministry of Defense told CNN Thursday that French troops from the Barkhane anti-terror force based in neighboring Chad were involved in an operation in Niger. The American team leaders told their superiors in seeking approval for the mission that there was a "low risk" of hostile activity in the region close to the border between Niger and Mali. Five of the soldiers were found and accounted for, all except one, the young soldier who DoD has just announced dead today. Trump was in Las Vegas meeting with victims of Sunday night's shooting, as well as first responders and doctors.