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After a while with this President you just simply throw up your arms yet again and pray to whoever listens to get on with getting this guy out. Let’s totally forget what he is alleged to have said in his condolence phone call (if that’s possible). Any “normal” person.. hell, you don’t even have to be presidential… you apologize whether you are right or wrong. You don’t see it as throwing down of a gauntlet to do political battle. If the family.. the wife.. of a serviceman killed in action says you offended her during your phone call meant to console her, then you hop on to the nearest phone and apologize, post haste. Right or wrong. It’s NOT about YOU.
About Niger and why we are there…
Well, seems we are over there in the region to work with the French to contain terrorist elements like ISIS and Al Queada, and help train local forces in doing so. It seems back in 2012 the French sent in Troops to Mali to contain the growing Al Quaeda network there. To assist, Obama, in 2013, sent in about 150 personnel to set up an intel-gathering drone mission headquartered in the Niger capitol of Niamey to do overflights inside Mali. At present there are about 800 personnel in Niger, but most are in construction to build a couple more drone facilities, and a detachment of some Green Berets in an advisory capacity to train the Niger military.
(The ABC article for reference is… HERE.)
There are also about 300 more personnel in neighboring Camaroon and Burko Faso doing the same thing.
(Note: I have a post on my old blog regarding Burko Faso and my then-apparent 2014 ignorance of where the hell that place was. You can read it.. HERE.)
The reason the French have any interest here at all is based on treaties back to 1893 during the French Colonial period, and all these loose territories were called French West Africa at the time (much like French IndoChina was made up of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia until the mid 1950’s). Following their independence into smaller countries (Mali, Chad, Niger, Senegal, etc.) certain agreements regarding trade and security were maintained with the French. Hence the reason everyone is in the region today.
I personally have no overt issue with this, what the military calls, “Mission in the Lake Chad Basin”, although these things many times get blown into greater conflicts and then the proverbial mission creep with the need for an additional troop presence takes over. For now I like the idea that we have a presence on the continent.. but more so because China has had increasing influence and trade going on in Africa. Maybe the developing economies in Africa will be a part of our own future economic strength. It’s bad enough our Dear Leader has isolated us from European leadership. Actually, given Obama started that African mission I am surprised Trump hasn’t pulled the plug on it yet. But no one knows where this soldier death investigation will go. Plug-pulling may yet still happen.
Speaking of the death investigation…
My own opinion.. this is not, nor ever will be, someone’s “Benghazi”. The public and press would be best served thinking that. This was purely a military mission and somehow the intel was not available, for any number of reasons, and normally a mission of minimal risk ended up going bad. I can readily find this event part of the risk in serving in these areas. I can also understand the serviceman who was allegedly “left behind”, which that is NOT an accurate term… and the risk is going up. They were looking for him. The idea of not leaving someone behind is a strong motivation in the military. So to presume some error in judgment, or that this serviceman was somehow lost or fell through some crack of accountability, or if some political agenda nutcases are trying to find an inkling of racism given the deceased soldier was black, is pretty remote.
The investigation should be in place in order to determine where the operational failure occurred in order to change or modify the risk status and operational posture.. and establish contingency and backup plans to meet the new risk assessments. The goal is the mission and the safety of the troops involved. It’s not about who is to blame and the finger pointing the press enjoys languishing on.
One thing for sure… deaths from this theater of operations will continue over time.