Niger Believed to be Preferred Location
By Harold Hutchison
The Department of Defense is considering whether or not to set up another base for unmanned aerial vehicles in Africa. The first choice for this new base is reportedly in Niger, right next door to Mali, where a civil war has erupted between Islamist rebels and the government.
Unmanned aerial vehicles have been used extensively by the United States in the War on Terror. Some of their notable uses have been a 2002 strike that killed a planner of the attack on USS Cole, and a strike that killed Anwar a-Awlaki, a cleric who was a major player in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
According to a report in Politico, the United States has an official base for UAVs in Djibouti, but that base is thousands of miles from the conflict in Mali. A new base in Niger could bring UAVs closer to the battle.
The United States has already been providing support to the French. Aerial refueling tankers have been supporting French combat aircraft carrying out combat missions in Mali. The United States also used airlift assets to move French troops to Mali.