Small Wars Journal

U.S. Troops Are on the Ground in Africa, But Diplomacy is Missing in Action

U.S. Troops Are on the Ground in Africa, But Diplomacy Is Missing in Action by Robbie Gramer - Foreign Policy

The deadly ambush of U.S. troops in Niger this month has pulled back the veil on Washington’s growing military footprint in Africa but has also underscored the lack of senior diplomats on the continent. The level of empty Africa posts this late into an administration is unprecedented, several career State Department officials with decades of experience told Foreign Policy, speaking on condition of anonymity.

President Donald Trump has only appointed a handful of ambassadors to the continent during his nine months in office. Outside of inventing an African country, deflecting criticisms on Niger, and praising the continent for its business potential, he hasn’t said much on Africa, despite humanitarian crises, rising instability, and growing terrorism threats. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, traveled to hot spots in Africa this week, but any diplomatic momentum she generates on her trip could sputter with no envoys on the ground to see her ideas through.

Only five ambassadors have been confirmed and deployed to Africa during the Trump administration. Ten others have been nominated but are either awaiting Senate confirmation or haven’t assumed their posts, leaving the vast majority of the 54-country continent without senior U.S. representation. This includes strategically important countries like Nigeria, South Africa, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Trump also hasn’t appointed an assistant secretary of state for African affairs, a key position that leads U.S. diplomacy on Africa from Washington…

Read on.