Small Wars Journal

The African Terror Fight

The African Terror FightWall Street Journal Editorial

Fighters loyal to Islamic State killed four American soldiers in Niger last fall, surprising even some Members of Congress who apparently had no idea the U.S. is fighting ISIS in Africa. Last week the Pentagon published a highly critical summary of its investigation into the incident, but it should lead to military improvements not a U.S. retreat from Africa.

The report blamed the deaths on “individual, organizational, and institutional failures and deficiencies.” On Oct. 4 a platoon-size force of Nigeriens, accompanied by 11 U.S. Special Forces soldiers, was ambushed by a larger and better-equipped terrorist force outside the village of Tongo Tongo. In addition to not being properly integrated with the Nigeriens, the Americans hadn’t completed rehearsals to prepare for enemy contact. By the time French aircraft arrived, four Americans were dead.

The incident has prompted reforms to how dangerous missions are approved, and Americans will now have heavier weapons and armored vehicles. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who leads the U.S. Africa Command (Africom), acknowledged in a press conference last week that while the U.S. mission is to advise and assist, it’s “a little bit of an art, not necessarily a science.” Americans have since accompanied Africans on fewer risky missions, which are vetted higher on the chain of command, and protective aircraft are required to join them…

Read on.