The top Republican lawmakers on the Senate and House Foreign Relations committees are adding their names to the growing pushback against the Pentagons potential plan to draw down U.S. forces in Africa.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischSchiff sparks blowback with head on a ‘pike’ lineSenators ask FDA to crack down on non-dairy milks, cheesesMSNBC’s Chris Hayes knocks senators for ducking out of impeachment trial: ‘You can resign’MORE (R-Idaho), and House panel ranking member Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulRockets hit US Embassy compound in BaghdadTop Indian official canceled congressional meeting over inclusion of Jayapal: reportRepublican group asks ‘what is Trump hiding’ in Times Square billboardMORE (R-Texas), last week urged Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: US military jet crashes in Afghanistan | Rocket attack hits US embassy in Baghdad | Bolton bombshell rocks impeachment trialOvernight Defense: Veterans group seeks Trump apology for comments on brain injuries | Pentagon says dozens of troops suffered traumatic injuries after attack | Trump unveils Space Force logoCommerce Department withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon pushback: reports MORE and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoState Department removes NPR reporter from Pompeo tripOvernight Defense: US military jet crashes in Afghanistan | Rocket attack hits US embassy in Baghdad | Bolton bombshell rocks impeachment trialPlease stop calling the impeachment proceeding a trial it’s a charadeMORE to maintain counterterrorism efforts when making any drawdown plans on the continent, warning that terrorist activity in this region is rapidly increasing.
While we agree there is a need to regularly review our force posture overseas to ensure efficiency and effectiveness, we strongly urge that any overall drawdown plans at Africa Command maintain robust support for our counterterrorism and host nation capacity building, the lawmakers wrote in a Friday letter.
The increase in terrorist attacks in West Africa is staggering, with extremist-related violence having doubled every year since 2015. Partner militaries are underfunded and ill-equipped to respond to this drastic increase in violence. That is why our limited, yet focused presence across Africa, is so important.
The New York Times reported last month that Esper was considering significantly reducing or completely withdrawing U.S. troops from West Africa in order to shift forces to better focus on Russian and Chinese military aggression.
The plan, which has not been finalized, could focus on several hundred American troops who are deployed in Niger, Chad and Mali to aid and assist in the fight against militant terrorist groups.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithBroad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from AfricaLawmakers push back at Pentagon’s possible Africa drawdownOvernight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump’s border wallMORE (D-Wash.) and ranking member Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryBroad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from AfricaLawmakers push back at Pentagon’s possible Africa drawdownGOP senator on Trump soliciting foreign interference: ‘Those are just statements’MORE (R-Texas) have also pressed the Defense Department to stop the potential reduction, as have a bipartisan group of 11 House lawmakers, Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham says he wants to see Bolton manuscriptBolton upends Trump impeachment trial Juan Williams: Democrats can’t let Trump off the hookMORE (R-S.C.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDemocrats rally in support of bill to repeal Trump travel banThis week: Senate barrels toward showdown on impeachment witnessesGOP-Biden feud looms over impeachment trialMORE (D-Del.), and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeBroad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from AfricaLawmakers push back at Pentagon’s possible Africa drawdownSenators take oath for impeachment trialMORE (R-Okla.).
Esper told reporters on Monday that no decisions yet have been made, and that his top priority is to implement the National Defense Strategy. That means that we are focused on great power competition with China, then Russia.
He would not comment on reports that indicate that the new force plan could include abandoning a recently built $110 million drone base in Niger.
Risch and McCaul argue that in order to counter a China and Russia that are increasing their presence throughout Africa, U.S. presence is vital.
The Trump administration has been clear-eyed about China and Russias destabilizing and dangerous global activities, including in Africa. The full force of the U.S. government must address their efforts to undermine democratic values and free market economies, they write.
U.S. forces are in West Africa to train and assist security forces in an effort to quell extremist Islamic groups including Boko Haram and those that pledge loyalty to the Islamic State and al Qaeda.