From The New York Times:
By Eric Schmitt and Scott Sayare | Published: February 22, 2013
WASHINGTON — Opening a new front in the drone wars against Al Qaeda and its affiliates, President Obama announced on Friday that about 100 American troops had been sent to Niger in West Africa to help set up a new base from which unarmed Predator aircraft would conduct surveillance in the region.
The new drone base, located for now in the capital, Niamey, is an indication of the priority Africa has become in American antiterrorism efforts. The United States military has a limited presence in Africa, with only one permanent base, in Djibouti, more than 3,000 miles from Mali, where insurgents had taken over half the country until repelled by a French-led force.
In a letter to Congress, Mr. Obama said about 40 United States military service members arrived in Niger on Wednesday, bringing the total number of those deployed in the country to about 100 people. A military official said the troops were largely Air Force logistics specialists, intelligence analysts and security officers.
Mr. Obama said the troops, who are armed for self-protection, would support the French-led operation that last month drove the Qaeda and affiliated fighters out of a desert refuge the size of Texas in neighboring Mali.
Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, signed a status-of-forces agreement last month with the United States that has cleared the way for greater American military involvement in the country and provides legal protection to American troops there.
More at the link.
Let me say from the outset: I absolutely support all efforts to defeat and destroy the Islamists. They are a threat to freedom and justice across the globe. But I have to wonder: President Obama is traveling all over the United States — something which costs millions of dollars — to campaign against the upcoming sequester, telling us just how absolutely horrid it will be, how many wonderful things will be cut, yet he can find money for new military deployments, small though it may be, into Niger. The French were doing a fine job defeating the Islamists in neighboring Mali; if we are facing such draconian cuts in both military and domestic spending, why does the President believe we need to embark on yet another adventure when the French were doing just fine without our help?