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February 1, 2013

Future U.S. Drone Base in Africa: SOF Perspective

The Associated Press recently reported that the United States and Niger have come into agreement to setup a United States drone base in order to provide intelligence and surveillance capabilities against Al-Qaeda in Northern Africa. The location of the proposed base is unknown (most likely undetermined).

Plans are already in place for conventional and special operations ground forces to operate there in the future as both the U.S. and Niger have signed a “status of forces” agreement that has been months in the making. A status of force agreement, or SOFA, is an agreement between a host country and a foreign nation stationing military forces in the country. SOFAs include the rights and privileges of foreign personnel, and the number of personnel and even aircraft numbers.

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  • MrCharles13

    The obvious answer is aerial refueling of the drones to double or triple their area of influence.  I would suggest that either drones with refueling apparatus attached to the hard points and internal tanks for extra fuel or maybe some of those new aircraft that SOF received from the Air Force could be modified to be aerial tankers.  I would guess that the main problem is matching air speeds to so that refueling can occur with minimal modification to the tanker. Plus, no American Service Personnel would be DIRECTLY INVOLVED in combat operations in North Africa.   Charlie Mike

  • majrod

    @ArcticWarrior  I'm not so turned off about the age of laws.  The constitution is over 200 years old, 10 commandments 3000?.  Values and principles are timeless.   i'm all for protecting Americans but when they join the enemy in a time of war habeus  corpus doesn't apply.  We didn't have the court involved in deciding if Sherman could march to the sea.   Don't get me wrong.  There should be a process where an American is declared an enemy combatant.  Does there have to be a civil court?  No, it is a war and the military should be making the decision.  Maybe as a fuirther protection it should apply strictly to OCONUS but I have a bad feeling that AQ is going to eventually recruit a blonde blue eyed stateside terrorist.  Small numbers can be treated as an internal security/police type problem.

  • majrod

    @ArcticWarrior  I wouldn't disagree with Mexico.  They have that right.  We also have the right to take out the Mexican drone base, drone factory, missile depots and anything else we feel is the equivalent to five American lives.   (the enemy's "vote" is the only reason we aren't in Syria today vs. how we dealt with Libya.)   Your example misses an absolutely key difference.  Countries we are conducting operations in are either unable or unwilling to take action.  If we allowed a violent organization to operate from our territory we are in fact responsible for that organization.  If we wanted to press it we could make the case that Pakistan is at war with us because of their inaction in the tribal areas.    Food for thought.     Consider Mexico's largely ineffective campaign against Cartels and how those cartels are killing Americans...   I'm not promoting war with Mexico.  Diplomacy and aid might be the way to go.  Politics as usual but war is just another form of politics.

  • majrod

    @ArcticWarrior  Was there something you disagreed with in Yoo's opinion?   Thanks for the link.  It's useful.

  • majrod

    @ArcticWarrior  Did you read the articles?   Imminent is immaterial.  The enemy doesn't get time to launch an attack.  If you happen to be an American part of an enemy force you're a lawful target.   The highe level official is squirrely but do we want military targeting done by committee?   Understand the constitution is supreme but it does grant the Pres significant leeway as the CIC executing war.    I'd like some process for American citizens that choose to align with the enemy stating they are enemy combatants but I believe it's too far to have a court do it or have a commission involved in military targeting (just think of a court deciding how to attack a target, what force is appropriate etc.  NIGHTMARE!).  Put aside the fact that we are killing an American but place it in the perspective of waging war.  (BTW, this begs a whole different question.  Why is the CIA waging war specifically conducting an air campaign?  Isn't that a DoD function?)   I'm very uncomfortable with the present policy as written.  It's confusing in regards to international law governing war and involves aspects of criminal law (you don't have to try to capture the enemy. he gets that choice).  The way it's written it allows anything can attack a target with permission or without permission.  Heck, then why bring it up?     I don't have a problem with a President ordering a strike on the enemy even if that enemy is an American citizen that has joined the enemy BUT he really should state it before hand and a state of war should exist (or then we do need to discuss imminent threat).