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A Deadly Ambush’s Great Mystery: What Are We Doing in Niger?

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https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/27/opinion/niger-ambush-la-david-johnson.html?ref=todayspaper

As the mystery deepens about the deaths of four American soldiers in an ambush by extremists in Niger, President Trump has disavowed responsibility and put the onus on the military. It’s the same sort of cowardly dodge he attempted when a Navy SEAL died in a botched raid in Yemen in January.

It won’t wash. Like his predecessors — presidents who were strong enough to actually acknowledge their heavy responsibility — Mr. Trump is commander in chief, in charge of putting the armed forces in harm’s way. Ultimately he and his Pentagon will have to provide a full accounting not only of the operation but also of how it fits into a broader strategy for countering terrorists in Africa.

Read more . . . . see link

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http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2017/10/do_not_try_to_turn_niger_into_trump_s_benghazi.html

American forces have been in Niger since 2012. Currently, there are about 800. Their primary mission is to advise and assist Niger’s armed forces in their fight against terrorist groups that attack their citizens. This means that American soldiers are not technically at war with the terror groups; they are there to assist the Nigeriens with tasks like locating the enemy, developing strategies and tactics, and building relationships with local leaders, whose knowledge is essential for getting accurate information about terrorists’ activities in a very remote part of the world.

The Niger mission is part of the growth of the U.S. military presence in Africa that began under the Bush administration and greatly expanded under Obama. American forces are deployed to numerous countries undertaking a wide variety of missions, almost all of which fall under the “advise and assist” mode of operation. While many of these missions are secretive for obvious reasons, their existence is not.

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PkrBum wrote:http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2017/10/do_not_try_to_turn_niger_into_trump_s_benghazi.html

American forces have been in Niger since 2012. Currently, there are about 800. Their primary mission is to advise and assist Niger’s armed forces in their fight against terrorist groups that attack their citizens. This means that American soldiers are not technically at war with the terror groups; they are there to assist the Nigeriens with tasks like locating the enemy, developing strategies and tactics, and building relationships with local leaders, whose knowledge is essential for getting accurate information about terrorists’ activities in a very remote part of the world.

The Niger mission is part of the growth of the U.S. military presence in Africa that began under the Bush administration and greatly expanded under Obama. American forces are deployed to numerous countries undertaking a wide variety of missions, almost all of which fall under the “advise and assist” mode of operation. While many of these missions are secretive for obvious reasons, their existence is not.

All this is what I have heard as well but the point of the piece is that the moron in the WH is evidently incapable of 'owning' anything that goes wrong while you can't shut him up on 'good' story . . .

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knothead wrote:All this is what I have heard as well but the point of the piece is that the moron in the WH is evidently incapable of 'owning' anything that goes wrong while you can't shut him up on 'good' story . . .

Right on, knot. This person will throw anyone under the bus as long as it exonerates him and/or (even better) makes him look good. He's perfectly pitiful and pitiable.

Obama, on the other hand, was a man to step up to the plate and say the buck stops here.

Night and day, in terms of character, these two presidents - just no comparison whatsoever.

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Blamiing Trump is like blaming the Jews for the black Plague. After awhile it just gets too damn easy to stereotype the man. However, lost in that smoke and mirrors are the simple truths that Bush, Obama, and Trump allowed expansions of the American Military into conflicts. The question should not be why Trump is not talking about another FU on his watch, the question should be how can anything change if Trump campaigned to reduce our forces overseas and make others of our allies pay more, and the man does just what Bush, Obama, and now Trump have done.

When will America ask why are our troops in Korea, Japan, and Germany, and is there a more cost effective method of defending Americans from foreign threats other than moving our massive offensive military machine to fight third world country battles which simply feed MIC.

No the question should be, when will we have a dialogue in America about the expansion of the Military in the last forty years where real nation state conflict has decreased. If we cannot discuss the military budget independent of all other political propaganda and party positioning, then we have abdicated our democracy and the Russian collusion is small potatoes to the MIC collusion.

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2seaoat wrote:Blamiing Trump is like blaming the Jews for the black Plague.  After awhile it just gets too damn easy to stereotype the man.  However, lost in that smoke and mirrors are the simple truths that Bush, Obama, and Trump allowed expansions of the American Military into conflicts.  The question should not be why Trump is not talking about another FU on his watch, the question should be how can anything change if Trump campaigned to reduce our forces overseas and make others of our allies pay more, and the man does just what Bush, Obama, and now Trump have done.  

When will America ask why are our troops in Korea, Japan, and Germany, and is there a more cost effective method of defending Americans from foreign threats other than moving our massive offensive military machine to fight third world country battles which simply feed MIC.

No the question should be, when will we have a dialogue in America about the expansion of the Military in the last forty years where real nation state conflict has decreased.  If we cannot discuss the military budget independent of all other political propaganda and party positioning, then we have abdicated our democracy and the Russian collusion is small potatoes to the MIC collusion.

If we cannot discuss the military budget independent of all other political propaganda and party positioning, then we have abdicated our democracy and the Russian collusion is small potatoes to the MIC collusion.[/quote]


affraid affraid affraid affraid affraid affraid affraid affraid affraid

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2seaoat wrote:
When will America ask why are our troops in Korea, Japan, and Germany...

Anyone who has to ask that question, must be completely ignorant of the first half of the Twentieth century.

Those troops aren't defending American freedom, they're doing something infinitely more noble: THEY'RE DEFENDING THE FREEDOM OF OTHERS.

Our efforts are sometimes misguided--the second Gulf war, for instance--but every conflict we've been in since the end of WWII has been to protect or defend other nations from undemocratic forces. The world is a much better place under Pax Americana than at any other time in history. Would you prefer that we had disarmed and crawled back into our shell after WWII? Just imagine a world ruled by the philosophical heirs of Stalin, Mao and Bin Laden.

Your continued bleating about the Military Industrial Complex is just as ignorant and isolationist as anything that's ever come out of Trump's mouth.

And don't even go there with the cost--if you took the time to educate yourself about the reality of Monetary Sovereignty, you'd understand that we CAN have guns and butter, we just choose not to.

I say: Pax Americana now, Pax Americana tomorrow and Pax Americana forever!

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RealLindaL wrote:
Obama, on the other hand, was a man to step up to the plate and say the buck stops here.

Rolling Eyes

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The US Military Is Conducting Secret Missions All Over Africa

By Nick Turse, VICE
27 October 17


U.S. troops are now conducting 3,500 exercises, programs, and engagements per year, an average of nearly 10 missions per day, on the African continent, according to the U.S. military’s top commander for Africa, General Thomas Waldhauser. The latest numbers, which the Pentagon confirmed to VICE News, represent a dramatic increase in U.S. military activity throughout Africa in the past decade, and the latest signal of America’s deepening and complicated ties on the continent.

With the White House and the Pentagon facing questions about an Oct. 4 ambush in Niger in which four U.S. Special Forces soldiers were killed, Secretary of Defense James Mattis reportedly indicated to two senior members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Friday that these numbers are only likely to increase as the U.S. military shifts even greater attention to counterterrorism in Africa.

“You’re going to see more actions in Africa, not less,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham after the briefing. “You’re going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less; you’re going to have decisions being made not in the White House but out in the field.”

But the U.S. military has already seen significant action in Africa, where its growth has been sudden and explosive. When U.S. Africa Command, the umbrella organization for U.S. military operations on the continent, first became operational in 2008, it inherited 172 missions, activities, programs, and exercises from other combatant commands. Five years in, that number shot up to 546.

Today’s figure of 3,500 marks an astounding 1,900 percent increase since the command was activated less than a decade ago, and suggests a major expansion of U.S. military activities on the African continent. (VICE News requested 2016 numbers, but AFRICOM failed to answer phone calls or respond to email requests.)

“The huge increase in U.S. military missions in Africa over the past few years represents nothing less than a shadow war being waged on the continent,” said William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.

These developments stand in stark contrast to early assurances that AFRICOM’s efforts would be focused on diplomacy and aid. In the opening days of the command, the assistant secretary of defense for African affairs, Theresa Whelan, said it would not “reflect a U.S. intent to engage kinetically in Africa.” AFRICOM, she said, was not “about fighting wars.”

But an increasing number of AFRICOM’s missions have the appearance of just that. The command has launched 500 airstrikes in Libya in the last year alone, and U.S. forces have regularly carried out drone attacks and commando raids in Somalia.

“This military-heavy policy,” said Hartung, “risks drawing the United States more deeply into local and regional conflicts in Africa and generating a backlash that could actually aid terrorist organizations in their recruitment.”

Officially, the Pentagon says the 3,500 missions consist primarily of training and advisory efforts to build the “defense capabilities” of local partner forces, including the use of counterterrorism assistance efforts such as the Combating Terrorism Fellowship Program and Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, according to spokesperson Maj. Audricia Harris. (Harris also confirmed that Waldhauser’s figures were accurate).

These programs are aimed at a plethora of terror groups that have sprung up across the continent since the 2000s, including 19 “active militant Islamist groups,” — such as al Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin region, and the Islamic State group in the Greater Sahara — in AFRICOM’s area of operations, according to the Pentagon’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies. The ultimate aim, according to AFRICOM, is to defeat “transnational threats in order to advance U.S. national interests and promote regional security, stability, and prosperity.”

But AFRICOM uses extremely broad language to describe training missions, including those in which troops are killed in action. Missions carried out under the rubric of “security assistance,” “security cooperation,” “train-and-equip” or “building partner capacity” — can be indistinguishable from actual combat.

“There is a notion,, in some circles at least, that training missions are ‘safe,’ and that U.S. troops are not exposed to the same level of risk as if they were engaged in direct combat,” said Hartung. “There may be an element of truth in this, but when push comes to shove, training missions can easily cross the line into combat operations.”

In May, for example, a Navy SEAL was killed by al Shabaab militants in Somalia while “assisting partner forces,” according to AFRICOM. Earlier this month, four Special Forces soldiers were killed in an ambush while providing “advice and assistance” to local forces in Niger.

U.S. troop deaths or scandals are frequently the only mechanism by which Americans come to know about military deployments to African nations like Niger, which according to Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Audricia Harris is home to more than 800 U.S. military personnel.

But Niger is hardly exceptional. Every day, 5,000 to 6,000 U.S. personnel are deployed across the African continent.

These near-constant training exercises, missions, and activities with troops from Benin and Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Chad, Gabon and Guinea Bissau, not to mention Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, the Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Togo and Uganda, among other nations, remain largely unknown to most Americans. So is the string of U.S. bases and outposts stretching from Djibouti to Tunisia, Cameroon to Kenya, Ghana to Niger.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in U.S. military training to the African continent in recent years,” Colby Goodman, the director of the Security Assistance Monitor, which tracks U.S. spending on foreign militaries, told VICE News. The number of African troops trained by U.S. military personnel jumped 89 percent, Goodman notes, from 22,825 trained in 2014 to at least 42,815 individuals a year later.

“I think we run the risk of working ourselves in more deeply — building dependence, rather than independence.”

Even before Mattis informed Sen. Graham and Sen. John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, there were indications that the counterterror missions would expand. This month, Donald Yamamoto, the acting assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the Trump administration’s proposed $5.2 billion African aid budget would address “key priorities” such as “assist[ing] partner nations to defeat ISIS branches and affiliates and other terrorist organization threats and networks in Mali and the Sahel, Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin, Somalia and the Horn of Africa, and elsewhere.”

Recently, the acting U.S. Army Africa commander, Brig. Gen. Gene LeBoeuf, noted that so-called “theater security cooperation” activities — missions designed to “build relationships that promote specified U.S. interests” — are set to rise from 186 this year to 271 in 2018, with about 80 percent taking place in the Lake Chad Basin nations of Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, and Niger. The recent attack on U.S. forces in Niger, believed to have been carried out by the Mali-based Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, suggest these missions pose increasing risks.

Experts warn this surge in U.S. military activities lacks strategic planning, and that providing training and equipment to such poor nations with fragile governments can result in greater instability.

“First, it’s very easy for our activities to overwhelm a country’s absorptive capacity for aid, which tends to result in elevated levels of corruption,” said Rebecca Zimmerman, a national security and foreign policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. “Next, by disproportionately funding the military and security apparatuses of these governments, we run the risk of militarizing or securitizing the country — elevating the militaries to a place of increased power relative to civilian government.”

Zimmerman warned this is particularly risky “in countries where there is inadequate civilian control of the military.” In 2012, for example, a U.S.-trained Army captain, Amadou Sanogo, overthrew Mali’s elected government. Two years later, Lt. Col. Isaac Zida, another U.S.-trained officer, seized power in Burkina Faso.

“With all of this,” Zimmerman said, “I think we run the risk of working ourselves in more deeply — building dependence rather than independence — which will make it hard for our forces to eventually conclude their mission.”

Spokespersons for Africa Command would not comment about the missions or such concerns, ignoring multiple emails from, and even hanging up on, this reporter.

“The U.S. government would do well to do serious risk assessments about its military activities in Africa,” Goodman warned. “These risk assessments must include the risks of U.S. military activities contributing to terrorist recruitment, especially in the Sahel, through increased U.S. military presence and by supporting corrupt military forces.”

Hartung shared similar concerns and said it was critical for the public to stay informed of the military’s often quiet expansion. “Congress and the public need to pay more attention to far-flung U.S. military train-and-equip missions, both in Africa and globally. They can too often sow the seeds of greater U.S. military involvement,” he said.


http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/46529-focus-the-us-military-is-conducting-secret-missions-all-over-africa


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RealLindaL wrote:
knothead wrote:All this is what I have heard as well but the point of the piece is that the moron in the WH is evidently incapable of 'owning' anything that goes wrong while you can't shut him up on 'good' story . . .

Right on, knot.   This person will  throw anyone under the bus as long as it exonerates him and/or (even better) makes him look good.  He's perfectly pitiful and pitiable.

Obama, on the other hand, was a man to step up to the plate and say the buck stops here.

Night and day, in terms of character, these two presidents - just no comparison whatsoever.

OMG you’re stupid. Let me refresh your memory on Benghazi when obama and Susan the liar Rice blamed the attacks on our folks due to a video. Thanks very much for acting as stupid as Dianne Feinstein, the chick in south Florida, the one congresswoman who thinks the Constitution is 400 years old, and the other dem HOR member who thinks Guam will tip over if we send too many trips from Okinawa to that location.

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OMG you’re stupid.

I will assume that is directed at me because Linda is anything but stupid. Your boy can NEVER admit anything negative or take responsibility but you know what numb nuts . . . . . the buck stops with him and it is so blatantly obvious.

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PkrBum wrote:



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Floridatexan wrote:
PkrBum wrote:





You whackos own the presidency (for a few more months it appears), and you own both houses of Congress. So how come you whiners haven't filed any charges and brought anyone to trial -- not Hillary, not Obama, not Lynch, not ANYONE.

Tell me how that can be? LOL

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Wordslinger wrote:
Floridatexan wrote:
PkrBum wrote:





You whackos own the presidency (for a few more months it appears), and you own both houses of Congress.  So how come you whiners haven't filed any charges and brought anyone to trial -- not Hillary, not Obama, not Lynch, not ANYONE.  

Tell me how that can be?  LOL


CRICKETS . . . . .

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Corruption.

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PkrBum wrote:Corruption.

Leftist or rightist?

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Wordslinger wrote:
PkrBum wrote:Corruption.

Leftist or rightist?

Both... the govt investigating itself is rigged.

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Proverbs 26:4

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PkrBum wrote:
Wordslinger wrote:
PkrBum wrote:Corruption.

Leftist or rightist?

Both... the govt investigating itself is rigged.

But you're the guy who whines all the time about the wrongs of Obama and Hillary and Lynch, but we never hear a peep from you about the other team. But why shouldn't we expect hypocrisy from a right wing whacko?

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Wordslinger wrote:
PkrBum wrote:
Wordslinger wrote:
PkrBum wrote:Corruption.

Leftist or rightist?

Both... the govt investigating itself is rigged.

But you're the guy who whines all the time about the wrongs of Obama and Hillary and Lynch, but we never hear a peep from you about the other team.  But why shouldn't we expect hypocrisy from a right wing whacko?  

You're losing it. I always want corrupt politicians hung... period.

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PkrBum wrote:
Wordslinger wrote:
PkrBum wrote:
Wordslinger wrote:
PkrBum wrote:Corruption.

Leftist or rightist?

Both... the govt investigating itself is rigged.

But you're the guy who whines all the time about the wrongs of Obama and Hillary and Lynch, but we never hear a peep from you about the other team.  But why shouldn't we expect hypocrisy from a right wing whacko?  

You're losing it. I always want corrupt politicians hung... period.

Then kindly explain why as Mueller's noose tightens around our maniac President and his gang, you aren't whooping for joy -- all we hear from you are whines about Hillary's and Obama's wrong doings! Reality.

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Wordslinger wrote:
PkrBum wrote:
Wordslinger wrote:
PkrBum wrote:
Wordslinger wrote:
PkrBum wrote:Corruption.

Leftist or rightist?

Both... the govt investigating itself is rigged.

But you're the guy who whines all the time about the wrongs of Obama and Hillary and Lynch, but we never hear a peep from you about the other team.  But why shouldn't we expect hypocrisy from a right wing whacko?  

You're losing it. I always want corrupt politicians hung... period.

Then kindly explain why as Mueller's noose tightens around our maniac President and his gang, you aren't whooping for joy -- all we hear from you are whines about Hillary's and Obama's wrong doings!  Reality.

Tell me a fact that proves that trump broke the law. I'd be glad to see him suffer the consequences.

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