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Sun sets on US military bases: America announces withdrawal from Niger

Air Force Senior Airman Cullen Thomas and Klepa, a military working dog, check the perimeter of Nigerien Air Base 201 in Niger, 9 December 2018. Photo: Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel Asselta

The US Department of Defense has announced an orderly and safe withdrawal of US forces from Niger.

The US Department of Defense has announced an orderly and safe withdrawal of US forces from Niger.

In a joint statement published by the US Department of Defense and the Department of National Defense of the Republic of the Niger on 19 May, both parties announced that a disengagement agreement had been reached.

The US Department of Defense delegation was led by Christopher Maier, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, and Lieutenant General Dagvin Anderson, Director of Joint Force Development in the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The delegation of the Ministry of National Defense of Niger was led by the Chief of Staff of the Army, Colonel-Major Mamane Sani Kiaou.


Both parties discussed the withdrawal of US forces, which had previously been requested by the Niger government and has already begun. It’s understood the disengagement will end no later than 15 September this year.

Both delegations confirmed the guarantees of protection and security to the American forces during their withdrawal. The delegations also established procedures to facilitate the entry and exit of US personnel, including overflight and landing clearances for military flights.

US forces have previously undertaken counterterrorism missions with Nigerian forces and both parties have announced a commitment to ongoing diplomatic dialogue to define the future of their bilateral relations.

Speaking to the media on 19 May, a US senior defence official said there have been reports of Russian representatives taking up residence in Niger.

“We hear reports of Russians, maybe in the capital in Niamey,” they said.

“I don’t ... think that this is a situation like we’ve seen in other countries in which the counterterrorism responsibilities will be turned over to a Wagner (private military company) or a Russian-type entity. I think the Nigerien military is too capable for that, and second of all, I think we tend to believe what they’ve told us; which is they’re not looking for any foreign forces in large numbers.

“A lot is going to tell in the next couple months as we conduct our withdrawal. On the Nigerien side (they’ll) start to see what capabilities they themselves need and what is no longer available with both the French withdrawal ... and then the American withdrawal.

“From the military-military perspective, I think they are continuing to be committed to looking at disrupting terrorist threats as they have been ... their forces are still going out and disrupting some of these threats.”

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