U.S. military presence in Africa grew again, but “we’re not at war,” top U.S. commander says

U.S. military presence in Africa grew again, but “we’re not at war,” top U.S. commander says

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U.S. military presence in Africa grew by more than a thousand troops over the past year, Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the U.S.’s top commander in Africa, acknowledged Tuesday.

 

Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, Waldhauser, the head of U.S. Africa Command, said on any given day the total American force rounded out to roughly 7,500 troops, including 1,000 contractors. In 2017, the U.S had roughly 6,000 troops in Africa on a given day, according to AFRICOM.

 

Waldhauser said the majority of these U.S. personnel were concentrated in two areas: in the East Africa region — namely Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia — and in the west of the continent.

 

The new numbers are the latest indication that the U.S. war on terror on the African continent shows no signs of slowing. Waldhauser said the U.S. was focused on fighting violent extremist groups like ISIS affiliates in the Sahel, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and al-Qaida. The U.S. has 1,800 personnel fighting joint missions across 13 nations, the size of the continental U.S., according to the annual statement.

 

Waldhauser specified that the bulk of U.S. forces — more than 4,000 service members— centered on the East Africa region, where U.S. troops are focused on the escalating conflict in Somalia. The U.S. doubled its troop count last year in Somalia — putting boots on the ground in numbers not seen since the "Black Hawk Down" disaster of 1993 — and launched a record number of airstrikes.