U.S. reducing troops in Africa as focus shifts elsewhere

A U.S. special forces soldier stands in front of Chadian soldiers during Flintlock 2015, an American-led military exercise, in Mao, February 22, 2015. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun

The U.S has announced plans to scale down its troops deployed to Africa as it shifts focus to countering threats from other nations.

A U.S. special forces soldier stands in front of Chadian soldiers during Flintlock 2015, an American-led military exercise, in Mao, February 22, 2015. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun

The Pentagon’s decision is the latest sign that the U.S. is shifting priorities after more than a decade and a half of focusing on the fight against Islamist militants in the Middle East and Africa

“This realignment specifically projects to reduce forces by about 10 percent over the next several years – representing a fraction of the overall 7,200 DoD personnel operating in Africa,” Commander Candice Tresch, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told Reuters.

Currently, about 7,200 US military personnel are based in dozens of African nations, with notable footprints in places like Somalia, Nigeria and Libya.

Tresch said that figure would be reduced by about 10 percent over the next few years.

“We will preserve a majority of our US security cooperation, partnerships and programs in Africa that strengthen our partner networks and enhance partner capability and ongoing programs,” Tresch said.

She however said that said the cuts would leave “counter-violent extremist organization” activities largely untouched in several countries, including Somalia, Djibouti and Libya.

The Pentagon is concerned about an increasingly resurgent Russia, which has flexed its military muscle in conflicts like those in Ukraine and Syria.