WASHINGTON The United States
will make a decision on the level of its presence in Africa, particularly in
the Sahel region, in about two months, Washington’s top military officer said.
Washington has some 7,000 special forces on rotation in Africa carrying
out joint operations with national forces against jihadists, particularly in
There is no explicit timeline, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of
Staff, General Mark Milley, told journalists.
Milley was on a plane to Washington after a meeting in Paris with his
French counterpart General Francois Lecointre.
We’ll probably get Secretary-level decisions in a month or two, maybe six
weeks, something like that, he added, referring to Defense Secretary Mark
Esper has announced his intention to implement the national defense plan
outlined by his predecessor, Jim Mattis, that refocuses the Pentagon’s
efforts on the US’ strategic competitors China and Russia at the
expense of the anti-jihadist fight.
On Monday, Milley said the US wants to reduce its military presence in
Africa, just as French President Emmanuel Macron was gathering his
counterparts from Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania in an effort to bolster the fight against jihadists in the Sahel.
French officials were alarmed, with a presidency source saying the US made irreplaceable contributions to Sahel operations particularly in
surveillance and air-to-air refuelling.
France has 4,500 soldiers deployed as part of the so-called Barkhane
operation in the Sahel-Saharan strip, an area as large as Europe, to fight
against armed extremist groups.
The Sahel countries also said they hoped Washington would maintain its
crucial support in combating the Islamist extremists.
Milley said that the US has no intention of withdrawing completely from
A lot of people think that we are ‘pulling out of Africa.’ I think that
is a mischaracterization and an overstatement, he said.
The question that we are working with the French on, is the level of
effort we are supporting the French with. Is it too much? Too little? About
right? he said.
Milley added that, upon his return to Washington, he would pass on the
requests from Paris to Esper for a decision.
Source: Nam News Network (NNN)