U.S. troop presence in Niger could drop by half as Pentagon repositions forces

Any major reduction in U.S. military presence in Niger would be a blow to the counterterrorism fight in the Sahel. The French military, which also has a major presence in Niger, is reportedly in talks with the military junta to withdraw its forces.

The DOD officials cautioned that no final decision has been made on the exact number of U.S. troops that remain in Niger after the repositioning. That figure depends on how many can be accommodated at Agadez and how many Pentagon leaders decide are needed to continue the counterterrorism mission, said the officials.

“It’s about matching the right people to the right mission,” said the second DOD official. “The number is not as important to us as the function they are performing.”

The situation in Niger is relatively stable and there is no specific threat to U.S. troops, Singh said. The U.S. military will still maintain a “small” presence at the airport in Niamey, while most of the troops will move to Agadez, she said.

The decision to move from Niamey was taken out of an abundance of caution, particularly after protests erupted this week outside a French military base in the city, said the first DOD official.

“We are trying to reduce the footprint in Niamey but still maintain our ability to conduct counterterrorism operations,” the first official said.

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