Obama Deploys 100 US Troops to Niger for Drone Base

Drone Flights Over Mali 'Imminent,' Officials Say

by Jason Ditz, February 22, 2013

President Obama has announced the deployment of 100 troops to the African nation of Niger, with an eye toward protecting the drone base currently being built in the nation, which neighbors Mali.

The drone base itself was not explicitly revealed in the letter revealing the Niger deployment, and instead simply couched the deployment as important for “intelligence collection,” meaning surveillance drones.

But officials refused to say whether attack drones would also be flown out of the base, saying only that the first flights over Mali are “imminent” The first drone flights will come out of Niamey, but with an eye toward the eventual deployment from a base near Agadez, which is closer to the areas of Mali they want to surveil.

The US signed a deal with Niger’s government last month ensuring legal immunity for any US ground troops operating in the nation. At the time they refused to comment on the deployment plans, but today’s statement suggests that only 40 of the troops are new arrivals, and that the other 60 were there for some time.

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