Recently, we have been seeing a push to remove troops from combat zones. Although the spotlight has been on Iraq and Afghanistan, Africa has also been a point of discussion.

According to a Military Times article, at the end of last year, there were reports that the Department of Defense was considering the idea of decreasing the number of troops in Africa. This is because firstly DoD wants to cut spending and secondly since it believes that troops could be better used somewhere else. The idea was met with resistance from U.S. and African representatives.

This past week, the Commander of Special Operations Command Africa, Maj. Gen. Dagvin Anderson, echoed the same sentiment, claiming that U.S. military presence on the ground is crucial. According to Anderson, al-Qaeda is becoming a growing threat in the region. Al-Qaeda has begun building stronger ties to the locally well-known extremist group, al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab has been getting more attention recently as they clash with American troops and allies. Just last week, a U.S. soldier was wounded and four Somali soldiers were killed in an al-Shabaab attack in Somalia.

Maj. Gen. Anderson said that al-Qaeda is building a stronghold in Western Africa, in countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso.