Rep. Matt Gaetz Releases Report Alleging Cover-Up Of Stranded US Troops Overseas

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Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
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Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz released a report Thursday alleging U.S. forces based in Niger are facing “imminent risk” due to a “coverup of intelligence” by the State Department.

In an investigative report titled “Unwelcome in Niger: An Interim Report by Congressman Matt Gaetz on the American Troop Crisis in Niger,” the congressman interviewed multiple service members including one senior enlisted personnel in the U.S., who claimed they had been left “functionally stranded, and without sufficient assistance from the Department of Defense or the Department of State.” In April, the service members reached out to Gaetz alleging they had not only been “prohibited from doing their purported mission,” but also from allegedly “returning home post-deployment.” (RELATED: US Quietly Trying To Keep Troops In African Country That Wants To Kick Them Out)

“Since the hostility within the government of Niger that took over in mid-2023, the Department of Defense is unable to execute planned troop rotations or deliver mail, medical supplies, equipment, and other materials. The Biden Administration is actively suppressing intelligence reports about the atmospherics of the Nigerien position to avoid embarrassment for investing hundreds of millions of dollars in a nation where U.S. forces are no longer welcome,” Gaetz stated in his report.

In March, Niger’s junta’s spokesman, Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane, stated during a press conference that the country would be stopping their military cooperation with America, adding that recent U.S. flights over the region were illegal, according to the Associated Press. However, reports later released that the U.S. was quietly working with the Nigerien government to negotiate a way to keep troops on the ground.

While reports indicated that troops were yet to be asked to formally leave by the National Council for Safeguarding the Homeland (CNSP), Gaetz’s report alleges that U.S. Embassy Ambassador Kathleen FitzGibbon and Senior Defense Official/Defense Attaché (SDO/DATT) Colonel Nora Nelson-Richter are “covering up” their failures within the country.

Gaetz claimed that service members received “emails where [SDO/DATT] would ask us to reword info in reports which would downplay what happened. All of the major stuff was phone calls,” apparently to avoid leaving a record.

Through the U.S. embassy, information from the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) & Special Operation Command Africa (SOCAF) is allegedly being dismissed or suppressed, actively containing “and/or refut[ing] U.S. intelligence assessments,” the report states.

“When our AFRICOM leaders look to us to provide atmospherics on the ground, they go to the Embassy first and hear a watered down or false story than what is being reported. I know of at least 3 reports from OSI about Nigerien sentiment that have been discredited by the Embassy and turned out to be 100% true,” another service member stated.

Additionally, Gaetz’s report claims that base troops have expressed the strain of medical and hygiene supplies is on the rise. A service member at the blood bank at AB101 told the congressman the supply of malaria medication and other drugs was running low.

“On average, throughout the EABS, each person has an average of 23 days of medication left. The fewest amount is 7 and the highest is 80 pills. Role 1 (Medical)has 1800 pills in stock which equates to a 9-day supply if each EABS member were given an equal number of pills. One consideration, it is illegal to share prescription medication even if it is the same type of medicine,” a service member stated.

Gaetz said he sent letters to the Department of State, the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community to get a response on the situation, and wrote to the Embassies of Germany and Italy inquiring about “any directives or decrees they have received from the Nigeriens regarding cooperation with U.S. forces in-country.”

“Our troops are currently sitting on a powder keg caused by political indecision at the top of the Department of State and Department of Defense. With a military junta in charge—who detests our presence and considers us unserious and predatory—the situation seems to be setting the groundwork for catastrophic diplomatic collapse like we saw during the 2012 Benghazi attack,” Gaetz stated.