National Security

‘Another Benghazi’: Endangered US Troops Should Evacuate From Hostile African Nation Quickly, Experts Say

(Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Jake Smith Contributor
Font Size:

U.S. troops in the African nation of Niger should evacuate quickly given the tumultuous situation on the ground, experts and former defense officials told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

At the request of the junta-backed regime, over 1,000 U.S. troops currently present in Niger will begin evacuating in the coming months, officials said on Friday and Saturday, as the region continues to spiral into chaos under the military coup-backed regime. The withdrawal should be conducted quickly as the U.S. troops are in danger from the growing threat of a hostile government and population, experts told the DCNF.  (RELATED: Pentagon Quietly Scraps Plans To Train With Militaries From Countries Accused Of Coups, Major Rights Abuses)

“If you don’t want to see another Benghazi or another Mogadishu, these guys got to go,” Michael DiMino, a senior fellow at Defense Priorities and former CIA officer, told the DCNF, referring to previous incidents in which U.S. forces in Libya and Somalia came under attack and were killed by militants in 2012 and 1993. “It was never a matter of if, it was always a matter of when those guys had to go because this new government in Niger does not want us there. They made that very clear.”

“What the State Department was not understanding, is that these guys are cold-blooded. This new government in Niger? They don’t care. They do not want the United States involved in their country,” DiMino told the DCNF. “There was this denialism for several months that, ‘We can salvage this, we did fix this.’ The denialism put us behind the ball such that we could have a very terrible event occur at any moment. That’s that’s how bad this is.”

Protesters react as a man holds up a sign demanding that soldiers from the United States Army leave Niger without negotiation during a demonstration in Niamey, on April 13, 2024. (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. has maintained a military presence in Niger since 2013 to conduct counterterrorism operations and prevent the spread of jihadist terrorism in the broader Sahel region. Niger is home to a major U.S. airbase and the American government has poured hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade into training and equipping the country’s armed forces.

The region, already in a troubled state, fell into rapid decline in mid-2023 after Niger’s armed forces staged a coup and overthrew the democratically elected president. The general who spearheaded the coup, Abdourahamane Tchiani, received his military training in part at a Department of Defense-backed college. (RELATED: Rep. Matt Gaetz Releases Report Alleging Cover-Up Of Stranded US Troops Overseas)

The military has now propped up its own government in Niger, rejected the “illegal” U.S. presence in March and has embraced Russian forces for security. The Biden administration spent recent weeks trying and failing to convince the military regime in Niger to allow U.S. forces to remain present in the region, culminating in the announcement over the weekend that American troops will be withdrawn.

“We are taking all measures towards the safety of U.S. forces,” a State Department spokesperson told the DCNF.

Claims that the withdrawal from Niger is a blow to U.S. national security are unfounded, as maintaining a ground troop presence in the region was largely ineffectual to counterterrorism operations, according to retired Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, a senior fellow at Defense Priorities and host of the Daniel Davis Deep Dive show.

“Ground troops do not prevent terror plots abroad from forming. It is physically impossible to garrison every patch of ground in any country where terror groups operate, so even in places like Niger, a capable militant organization could function without our detection,” Davis told the DCNF. “Having troops on the ground in a handful of countries — literal dots on the global map — does very little to affect our safety.”

“We do prevent terror attacks, though, by the effective, robust, and excellent performance of our anti-terrorist capacities between our federal, state, and local law enforcement, 17 intelligence agencies domestically, cooperation with our many allied intelligence departments abroad, and when appropriate, special forces raids abroad based on actionable intelligence,” Davis told the DCNF.

It was a mistake for the Biden administration not to withdraw the U.S. troops from Niger sooner, experts said, especially with the growing threat against them from militants and rebels in the region. Protests have broken out across Niger in recent weeks — even after the withdrawal announcement was made — with hundreds of people demanding that troops leave immediately.

“It wasn’t a ‘decision’ to withdraw from Niger so much as an order to leave from the ruling junta, but it was a welcome development for U.S. national security,” Davis told the DCNF, calling the initial deployment to Niger “problematic” and unwarranted. “Virtually every operation in Africa, from Somalia to Niger on down, has no genuine value for the United States.”

(Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – Nigerien soldiers stand guard as supporters of Niger’s National Council of Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) protest outside the Niger and French airbase in Niamey on September 2, 2023 to demand the departure of the French army from Niger. (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Several servicemember whistleblowers on the ground in Niger have come forward and alleged that the Biden administration is intentionally downplaying the reality of the situation. U.S. military and diplomatic flights are not authorized by the military regime to enter the country and American troops have increasingly limited access to food, medicine and equipment, according to the whistleblowers.

“We have not been able to conduct overflight, we have not been able to get food or medicine or other supplies in and out since the coup,” DiMino told the DCNF. “It’s gotten so dire that the only question is, can we stay or not without American troops being overwhelmed… I don’t think our interests in the Sahel are great enough to demand the sacrifice of our men and women.”

“There’s always some risk of that kind of scenario when you have foreign troops in a country, even if they have the government’s permission, because a lot of times there’s a lot of dissent, where large portions of the population agree with the government about having U.S. troops,” Benjamin Friedman, policy director at Defense Priorities, told the DCNF. “So you could see a kind of Popular Mobilization against U.S. forces that includes violence.”

An exact timeline for the withdrawal has not yet been set. Pentagon spokesman Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed during a press briefing on Tuesday that discussions were ongoing, and a small delegation from U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) will travel to Niger in the near future for further deliberations.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact