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US planning new drone outpost in Africa

US planning new drone outpost in Africa

The US is considering getting another foothold in Africa, this time with the stated purpose of aiding France with its war on Malian insurgents, AFP has quoted an anonymous official as saying Tuesday. The plan is to build a drone base in Niger, close to Mali’s eastern border where French troops are combating Al-Qaeda.

Up to 300 US military service members and contractors will be dispatched to the base to operate the drone. A location in Burkina Faso is considered as a backup site for the drone outpost.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland stressed Washington wasn’t going to pull ground troops to the war-torn country. The US command also said the base might be used as an outpost to curb extremist threats in the region.

The plan still needs to get the green light from the US Department of Defense, President Barack Obama and Niger. So far, the US has only one permanent base in Africa, in Djibouti, where drones are used for missions in Yemen. It also allows access to Somalian and Sudanese airspace, while a Niger base could potentially shorten the response time of the American military.

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