US military in Africa says changes made to protect troops

2018-07-31 16:11
American troops (File, AP)

American troops (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The US military in Africa has taken steps to increase the security of troops on the ground, adding armed drones and armoured vehicles and taking a harder look at when American forces go out with local troops, the head of the US Africa Command says.

General Thomas Waldhauser told reporters on Monday the US also has cut the response time needed for medical evacuations — the result of a broad review in the wake of last year's ambush in Niger that killed four US soldiers and four of their Niger counterparts.

"Since that happened, there were significant things to change and learn," Waldhauser said. "We've done a thorough scrub really on every level, whether it's at a tactical level ... or how we conduct business at AFRICOM."

A report is due in mid-August on actions taken in response to the findings, Waldhauser said. He released a report in May on the ambush, which has been blamed on extremists linked to the Islamic State organisation.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER 

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

He said Africa's challenges remain vast, from Islamic State and al-Qaeda-linked groups in the west to al-Shabaab in the east.

The US takes a hard look at what is necessary when accompanying local forces on operations, "in terms of when it's necessary; is the threat there going against something that's significant to the US homeland and our national interests," he said.

Drones are part of the strategy to provide intelligence-gathering for partner nations so they can "consider various operations and take on these threats," Waldhauser said.

The US has authority to carry out drone strikes in Libya and Somalia, according to AFRICOM, but Waldhauser confirmed that "we have been arming out of Niger, and we'll use that as appropriate." The US says it started arming drones in Niger earlier this year; they are currently deployed to an air base in the capital, Niamey.

He stopped in Senegal while in the region for an annual senior leader and communications symposium in Cape Verde, according to the US Africa Command.

The US maintains a small site at Camp Cisse in Dakar's old airport that allows for US military aircraft to land and refuel. It also allows for storage and use during crisis situations in West Africa such as the response to the deadly Ebola outbreak a few years ago or to any threats against embassies.

America's role on the continent is to build the capacity of local partner forces, Waldhauser said.

"The majority, if not all of the combat operations, will be conducted by the partner force, not by the United States. So our whole goal is to get them up to a level that they can deal with the challenges that they face," he said.

"In no case are we trying to take the lead. In no case do we want to own the problem, really in all cases and various methods, whether it be kinetic strikes in places like Somalia or working bilaterally with G5 countries in the west," he said, referring to the new five-nation G5 Sahel counterterror force in West Africa.

When the US does step in with strikes, "we go out of our way to reach levels of certainty with whom we know we are up against," he said. Officials and residents in Somalia, however, more than once in recent months have accused the US of killing civilians in drone strikes.

Waldhauser also warned that partnership with the US comes with responsibility and mentioned as an example recent reports of extrajudicial killings in Cameroon. The UN human rights chief last week said he was "utterly appalled" at a recent video appearing to show Cameroonian soldiers shooting to death women with small children strapped to their backs as suspected Boko Haram extremists.

"We want to have a strong military relationship with Cameroon. But their actions will go a long way toward how that will play out in the future with regards to the transparency on some of these latest allegations." Waldhauser said.

Read more on:    un  |  al-shabaab  |  al-qaeda  |  isis  |  boko haram  |  us  |  africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

5 scientific benefits of owning a cat

According to science, just the act of watching cats itself can bring about positive emotions – so it comes as no surprise then, that owning a cat has a number of benefits.

 

Paws

Why we love cats
8 great natural remedies for your pet
How to clean your dog’s eyes
This special pooch inspired his brother to learn to stand again
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.