U.S. Is Reducing Presence of Special-Operations Forces on Africa’s Front Lines by Michael M. Phillips – Wall Street Journal
NIAMEY, Niger—The U.S. is reducing the presence of American commandos on Africa’s front lines, a move U.S. officers believe will make troops less vulnerable to the type of militant attack that left four U.S. soldiers dead in this West African country last fall.
American Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Marine special operators serving as advisers to African forces will largely stay closer to the rear, working from command centers and battalion headquarters, rather than accompanying African troops on hazardous operations against militant groups.
“It should reduce our risk,” Maj. Gen. Mark Hicks, commander of U.S. special-operations troops in Africa, told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. “But,“ he added, ”life here is not without risk.”
Gen. Hicks said his intention is to put U.S. special-operations troops to work at a higher level, helping African commanders tackle logistics, intelligence, artillery support, medevac and other aspects of large-scale operations against Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and other local Islamic State and al Qaeda affiliates.
“We’re looking to advise as far up the chain [of command] as our assistance is desired and feasible,” Gen. Hicks said. “It’s not just about reducing risk—it’s about increasing our return on investment.”
Gen. Hicks said the shift began well before the Oct. 4 ambush of a joint U.S.-Nigerien patrol by militants allegedly aligned with an Islamic State branch, ISIS in the Greater Sahara…