America’s shadow war in Africa

America’s little-known war on terrorists in Africa is becoming more perilous as the U.S. deploys growing numbers of troops to the continent’s most lawless regions, including the part of Niger where four special operations soldiers died in an ambush last week.

The escalation is occurring with little public debate — and, some military experts say, too little attention from top decision-makers in Washington. The U.S. military presence in the Sahel and sub-Saharan regions has grown to at least 1,500 troops, roughly triple the official number of American troops in Syria, according to Pentagon and White House figures.

As with Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, the dispatch of hundreds of additional U.S. troops to countries like Niger, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Uganda and South Sudan is another instance where President Donald Trump’s “America First” rhetoric hasn’t kept his administration from being drawn deeper into far-flung war zones. And the U.S. lacks a comprehensive strategy for pursuing its mission in Africa, military and intelligence experts told POLITICO.

“I don’t think there is any congressional oversight in this,” said Michael Shurkin, a former CIA analyst specializing in Africa who is now a researcher at the Rand Corp., a Pentagon-funded think tank.

He also pointed to vacancies in top policymaking posts in the State and Defense departments, saying they’ve left military operations such as Africa Command and its special operations component “pretty much doing their own thing.”

“It is not that there is a good policy or bad policy,” Shurkin said. “There is just no policy. It is inertia.”

Read more at Politico.