When many Americans woke up one morning in October to discover that two US Special Forces soldiers and one support soldier were killed in an ambush in Niger, they were incredulous. Why are American troops in Niger? How is Niger important to the United States strategically? How could our highly trained Special Forces soldiers be killed in an ambush during what was supposed to be a low-risk mission? This article will answer these questions in detail.
3rd Special Forces Group had been in Niger for years by 2017, and 10th Special Forces Group had been deploying there before them. Historically, the land-locked African country was more of a French area of operations. While the United States military has a global mandate, the French take a more localized approach, focusing on their former colonies in West Africa. Some see this as a continuation of the French-Afrique relationship, a kind of unseemly mafia-like relationship between African states and their former colonial masters. Be that as it may, the French Foreign Legion has been very active in this theater, combating Al Qaeda-linked militants in Mali while other French soldiers maintain a presence in nearby countries like Ghana and Senegal.
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