The United States has delivered the first batch of military equipment to the Nigerien military in order to boost the G5 Sahel’s counter-terror and insecurity efforts.
The newly delivered military equipment is a fulfilment of the US pledges of $21 million of equipment to the West African country. Military equipment which includes transport, fuel, and water trucks; GPS-enabled navigation systems; fuel containers; military tents and individual soldier equipment.
The equipment was handed over in a ceremony in the capital Niamey on 6 June by US Army Major Maia Molina-Schaefer, chief, Office of Security Cooperation, and received by Nigerien Defence Minister Kalla Moutari.
During the handover ceremony, the Nigerien Defense Minister Kalla Moutari said that the shipment, along with forthcoming armoured and tactical vehicles, communication equipment, and personal protective gear, will bolster Niger’s capability to deploy the mobile infantry force assigned to the G5 Sahel Joint Force and improve security along Niger’s Mali and Burkina Faso borders.
In February, the US also provided a $16.5 million command and control centre, which comprises of a new building, two deployable tactical operations centres, specialised communications equipment and radios.
Regarding the US concerns about rising militancy in West Africa’s Sahel region, the US military has increased its presence in Niger to an 800-strong force that provides intelligence gathering and other missions to forces within the region.
The Niger Government has previously given permission to the U.S. to operate armed MQ-9 Reaper dronecurrently deployed to Niger’s Air Base 101 in Niamey in a long-term strategic partnership between the U.S. and Niger to combat violent extremism in the region. There is also a drone base in Agadez that provides surveillance of Boko Haram
The U.S. has already provided Niger with Cessna C-208 surveillance planes, armoured personnel vehicles and small craft known as mud boats, along with other equipment and training.
The US presence in Niger was revealed on October 4, 2017, when four US soldiers and five Nigerien troops were killed in an ambush by fighters affiliated with the Islamic State group.