American troops begin withdrawal from Niger

The process of withdrawing American troops from Niger has officially commenced, marking a significant milestone in the relationship between the two nations. With a total of 946 soldiers stationed in various bases across Niger, the withdrawal operation has begun from key locations such as Agadez, Ouallam, and Diffa, with the destination set for Niamey.

Over the past weekend, the first steps of this withdrawal were initiated as troops began their journey back to the United States. Nearly a thousand soldiers gathered at Niamey International Airport’s squadron base, preparing for their gradual departure. This significant move comes following the signing of a withdrawal agreement between Niger and the USA on May 19, signifying a formal start to the withdrawal process.

According to General Kenneth P. EKMAN, the head of American troops in Niger, this marks the official start of the withdrawal of American military personnel and equipment. Since the agreement was signed, over 269 personnel and several tons of equipment have already been repatriated. The departure of the C-17 Globemaster III from the U.S. Air Force’s 101st Air Base in Niamey on June 7 signifies the beginning of a series of heavy transport rotations to repatriate personnel and equipment, in accordance with the agreement.

In a solemn joint ceremony between the Nigerien and American armies, Colonel-Major Mamane Sani KIAOU, President of the Disengagement Committee, and Major General Kenneth P. EKMAN, U.S. Troop Commander in Niger, formalized the departure. Tons of equipment have been loaded onto planes, with the first batch set to leave Niger, including at least 269 soldiers.

The Nigerien Ministry of National Defense and the American Department of Defense have acknowledged the joint sacrifices made by the forces of both countries in the fight against terrorism. They expressed mutual commendation for the efforts made in strengthening the capacities of the Nigerien Armed Forces and reiterated their commitment to continued cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

This withdrawal follows the departure of the French army from Niger at the end of 2023 and the arrival of Russian military instructors, as Niger seeks to diversify its defense partnerships. Both parties have emphasized that this withdrawal will not impact the relations between the two countries. The United States has been supporting Niger in the fight against terrorism through intelligence provided by their drone base in Agadez.