Mark Esper Instructs US Troops Withdrawal from Africa

US Troops

The US military spread in almost every continent of the world has highly influenced the international military management, with each country being impacted by its pros and cons at an internal and global level. The growing capitalism followed by drone airstrikes to end terror, self-defense practices and additional support by the US in the fields of technology, have become the base of every advancing country.

Furthermore, the US has taken several steps to mitigate the ongoing terror threats, wherein deploying a portion of its troops in some countries seeking-peace, became one of its big agendas. The world’s second-largest and second-most populous continent, Africa also has a significant number of US troops to conduct raids and avoid the spread of terror-organizations in the continent.

The US troops in East and West Africa work closely with the African Union troops to improve the military status of the continent, strengthening the citizens’ capacity to secure their own interests. Until today, the US has conducted several military operations, intelligence programs and security cooperation in multiple African countries. A data shows that thousands of the US troops are present in Africa’s Djibouti, with the aim of performing a counter terrorism mission.

US Troops

Recently, Defense Secretary Mark Esper came under criticism for opposing the ongoing pattern of the presence of US forces in Africa. Esper planned to draw down 6,000 to 7,000 troops fighting the militant terrorist groups in Africa, while bringing them to counter Russian and Chinese aggression. The move was increasingly pushed back by the lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Mentioning about the dire consequences of Esper’s decision in a letter, Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and ranking member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) wrote, “A decrease in our investment now may result in the need for the United States to reinvest at many more times the cost down the road.”

The news first came in December, when Esper was contemplating a significant withdrawal or reduction of the US troops from West Africa, a home to several extremist Islamic groups. Boko Haram, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Al-Shabaab etc. are some of the terrorist, jihadist fundamentalist group spread in the continent that pledge their loyalty to the Islamic State and al Qaeda, and exist solely with the motive of giving rise to more violence.

Would it not become difficult for the African security forces to halt the expansion of terror organizations, if the US troops are withdrawn? It would indeed toughen the existing situations, and the weakening defense and less capable African military would fail to protect its citizens. The comparisons in the field of technology and capabilities here play a big role, which all the way brings a straightforward relevance of the US troops in African countries.

The critics believe that there is no insurance of whether the decision of troops’ withdrawal could become a legitimate one. Many fear that a crisis could occur at any place and time in the African countries and under such circumstances bringing back of the US troops to violent-areas would cost double to the US government. So to avoid such deadlocks, the lawmakers expressed concerns over Esper’s decision.  

To be precise, it is not the first time that the US is indulging in troops withdrawal. Considering the odds, the US in the past has carried out similar measures in Afghanistan and Syria.

A report has indicated that the withdrawal of the US troops would mean abandoning of a recently built $110 million drone base in Niger followed by the ending of assistance to French forces fighting militants in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. The Pentagon officials appear to be neglecting the adverse implications of reducing forces in Africa that could further heighten the violent extremism threats on the continent.

In the same context, a warning was issued by a bipartisan group of 11 House lawmakers, calling the US troops withdrawal “a shortsighted action” towards diminishing the national security. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe declared that the drawdown of the US troops could cripple AFRICOM’s ability to execute its counter terrorism mission and, as a result, would harm the national security.

Surely, Mark Esper’s statements to indulge the US troops for the purpose of countering Russian and Chinese aggression seems necessary and great enough but not at the cost of devastating African peace maintained by the forces.

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