U.S. plans $280 million military base in Niger as critics say growing presence is destabilizing Africa
The U.S. is expected to build a military base in the West African region of Agades, Niger with total construction and operations costs of $280 million by the end of 2024.
According to Richard Komurek, a spokesperson for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, the facility is the largest U.S. military base construction and is part of a growing American military presence across Africa.
Dan Gettinger, co-founder and co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, tells the Intercept, “It’s probably one of the most remote U.S. military airbases ever built. Most drone bases on the African continent are appendages to larger airports and airfields, but not Agadez. The existing infrastructure is not there. So, the scale of the project is huge.”
Earlier in 2015, Congress approved of air force plans that “negotiated an agreement with the government of Niger to allow for the construction of a new runway and all associated pavements, facilities, and infrastructure adjacent to the Niger Armed Force’s Base Aerienne 201 (Airbase 201) south of the city of Agadez.”
Since the outpost began its construction, U.S. military operations have increased with hundreds of drone attacks targeting Department of State sanctioned terrorist groups throughout West and North Africa. In particular, Libya has become one of the main targets for U.S. drone attacks and militant terrorist groups.
Critics state that the base would potentially help destabilize Niger as more Western militaries increase their presence in the area. France has troops stationed in the neighboring country of Mali, Germany’s Merkel flew to Niger, and Italy is sending troops to assist the French in a military mission.
While the Agadez base is remote, it comprises many American comforts alongside its military operations for stationed troops. These consist of a recreational center, large satellite dishes, air-conditioned cafeterias, large screen televisions, a gym and more.