Washington, D.C. — Shortly after a meeting ended between Defense Secretary James Mattis and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham in regards to the attack in Niger that killed four soldiers attached to the 3rd Special Forces Group; Sen. Graham announced in a press briefing that the United States will be looking to increase U.S. Special Operations counter-terrorism missions within Africa. The U.S. in essence has declared war on African terrorism.
We don’t want the next 9/11 to come from Niger,” Graham said to reporters, “The counter-terrorism rules under the Obama administration I thought were overly restrictive. We will in the coming weeks begin to change those restrictive rules of engagement in not only Niger but also across Africa as well.”
Graham also stated that Congress has been “out of the loop” in some instances within Africa and now the Senate Armed Services Committee will be getting briefed weekly as to the terrorist threat situation on-going across large expanses of the continent. Weekly updates on the status of the perpetrators of the ambush in Niger, the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS) and its high value leader Abu Walid Al-Sahraoui are at the top of the committee’s list. As such, this newly formed fledging off-shoot of ISIS will be target priority one for annihilation due to being the prime suspects in the killing of the four U.S. soldiers.
This will also lead to weekly updates across Africa regarding areas where U.S. Special Operations have already had a presence. Somalia, for instance, already has an unknown number of U.S. Special Operations units conducting joint U.S. Special Forces direct actions raids with Special Forces-trained Somali Special Operations troops on suspected terrorist camps and leadership of the al-Qaeda linked Harakat al-Shabaab al-Muhajiadeen, or simply al-Shabaab.
Graham went on to describe this war on African terrorism as a “constantly morphing war” with terror groups popping up or disappearing almost as quickly as they form. Another major announcement was that he and the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain both agreed that communication and “ground intelligence” from Special Forces on the ground will play a major role in the rule of engagement parameters authorized by Congress.
This is a huge victory for Green Berets and other U.S. Special Operations forces that are in the fight that will now have a direct intelligence pipeline to the decision makers in Washington. Special Forces has lacked this pipeline since the invasion of Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 where several Green Beret teams infiltrated into the country and linked up with elements of Gen. Dostum’s Northern Alliance to overthrow the Taliban as America’s response to 9/11.
Graham also continued on with clarifying the new rules of engagement by stating that U.S. Special Forces advisers will now be authorized to engage any person or group that is a known terrorist or affiliated to a terrorist group. Normally the established rules of engagement for U.S. advisers in Africa was to engage only in self-defense, now U.S. advisers can engage at will on known terrorist targets. Graham, in regards to this new amendment to the current rules of engagement added this, “You will see more aggression from the United States and its forces on the ground in Africa.”
Graham finished the press conference with one final chilling statement, “The American people need to be ready to more, not less [U.S. military] actions throughout Africa,” in the coming months. And without truly saying it, confirmed that the United States has declared war in Africa.
The Niger ambush and the deaths of two Green Berets and two Special Forces support soldiers has not only put Niger but Africa as a whole in the spotlight. Many in the United States had no clue where on the map to locate Niger let alone had any knowledge that U.S. Special Forces were on the ground and in harm’s way. The fact is that Africa has become a landing pad for terrorist groups for decades. From al-Qaeda affiliates to the apocalyptic Islamic State all have strong footholds all over the continent.
The Niger ambush seemed to have been the spark needed to light the fires of U.S. military might and the catalyst that forced the United States to declare Africa as the new battlefield of the Global War on Terror.
Feature image courtesy of: Associated Press