By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Sept. 14, 2023) -- In Niger, the United States has resumed the flying of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions as part of its force protection efforts.
"We can confirm that the U.S. forces in Niger commenced ISR flight ops to monitor for threats and for force protection," said Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh during a briefing at the Pentagon today. "The U.S. ... always reserves the right to conduct operations to protect our forces and personnel if required."
The U.S. has more than 1,000 troops in Niger who had been, at least up until July of this year, participating alongside Nigerien troops in counterterrorism operations and security force assistance training.
Those efforts were paused and continue to be paused, following a coup that overthrew Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.
"The United States has not restarted counterterrorism operations, or any security force assistance training with Niger," Singh said.
The U.S. has also been moving personnel in the country from Air Base 101 near the capital of Niamey, to Air Base 201 in Agadez, Singh said.
"During that process, of course, we are wanting to make sure that our troops and our equipment is safe," she said.
Next week, Singh said, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley will again participate in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The meeting commences Sept. 18.
"This will be the 15th meeting of the UDCG since Secretary Austin formed the international group in April 2022," she said. "The secretary and chairman will join ministers of defense and senior military officials from nearly 50 nations to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the continued close coordination by the international community to provide the Ukrainian people with the means necessary to defend their sovereign territory."