U.S. troops arrive in Niger to set up drone base

The Washington Post
By Craig Whitlock
February 22, 2013

President Obama announced Friday that about 100 U.S. troops have been deployed to the West African country of Niger, where defense officials said they are setting up a drone base to spy on al-Qaeda fighters in the Sahara.

It was the latest step by the Pentagon to increase its intelligence-gathering across Africa in response to what officials see as a rising threat from militant groups.

In a letter to Congress, Obama said about 40 U.S. service members arrived in Niger on Wednesday, bringing the total number of troops based there to “approximately” 100. He said the troops, which are armed for self-protection, would support a French-led military operation in neighboring Mali, where al-Qaeda fighters and other militants have carved out a refuge in a remote territory the size of Texas.

The base in Niger marks the opening of another far-flung U.S. military front against al-Qaeda and its affiliates, adding to drone combat missions in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. The CIA is also conducting drone airstrikes against al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan and Yemen. …

Read on: www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-troops-arrive-in-niger-to-set-up-drone-base/2013/02/22/2a3348c0-7d01-11e2-9e84-3fbb5d2ef2a9_story.html