WASHINGTON — Members on Capitol Hill complained they did not know the extent of the U.S. troop presence in Niger following the ambush and killing of four U.S. servicemen there last week, though the Trump administration repeatedly told Congress about military efforts there.
The Obama administration even told Congress about a troop deployment there in 2013.
“I’m arguing that the current authorization as long as it’s related to radical Islam is enough. But here’s — the military determines who the threats are, they come up with the engagement policy and if we don’t like what the military does, we can defund the operation. But I didn’t know there was a thousand troops in Niger,” South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. (RELATED: Two Top Senators Didn’t Know There Are 1,000 American Troops In Niger)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also said Sunday that he did not know the extent of the U.S. presence in Niger.
— US AFRICOM (@USAfricaCommand) March 12, 2014
Additionally, the White House sent a letter to Congress in June saying 645 U.S. service members were in Niger and 300 were in Cameroon, and Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of Africa Command testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March there were “approximately 1,000 personnel conducting 12 named operations across a nine-nation region.”
According to Senate documents, Lindsey Graham was present at the March hearing where the head of AFRICOM said U.S. troops were in Niger. pic.twitter.com/CTU3cG43fG
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) October 23, 2017
In March, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing where Graham was present along with other members of the committee, when all were informed that U.S. forces were deployed in Benin, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.
In 2013, President Barack Obama sent a letter to Congress announcing the Pentagon deployed 100 troops to Niger to conduct unmanned reconnaissance flights over Mali, Reuters reported at the time.
“This deployment will provide support for intelligence collection and will also facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region,” President Obama said in the letter.