US Ups Its Stake in the Mali Conflict

If you missed it, the United States is more directly involved in Mali, committing military drones and troops to support their missions. In a Feb. 22, 2013 letter to Congress, President Obama said:

“On February 20, 2013, the last elements of a deployment of approximately 40 additional U.S. military personnel entered Niger with the consent of the Government of Niger. This deployment will provide support for intelligence collection and will also facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region. The total number of U.S. military personnel deployed to Niger is approximately 100. The recently deployed forces have deployed with weapons for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security.”

The United States and Niger signed a Status of Forces Agreement last month, setting the conditions for the presence of American troops in the country. On condition of anonymity, a Pentagon official said the unmanned planes were sent to Niger “to support a range of regional security missions and engagements with partner nations.”

An Eradication Mission

The commander of the African Military Force (AFISMA), consisting mostly of Mali’s neighbors, is taking aggressive action against the Islamic extremist rebels. “This is not a containment mission; this is an eradication mission,” said Nigerian Major General Shehu Abdul-Kadir.

It appears the world has had a gut-full of terrorists. And, if you look at what is being said and what is being done in Mali by a united coalition of determined countries, you begin to feel some hope—hope that the military objective is a lot more than to just push these terrorists back into hiding.

The hope of freedom-loving people all around the world—and particularly the hope of people who have been indiscriminately targeted and murdered for terror’s sake—is to rid the world of this ideology that oppresses and eventually destroys everything it touches.

The eradication of the terrorists in Mali progresses. The French continue to wage war on the rebels and drive them out of the lands they have infiltrated. The terrorists fled to remote areas as France drove them out of population centers. Most of them are believed to be in remote mountain hideouts near the Algerian and Niger borders.

Mali’s neighbor countries have formed a military force and are actively participating in military operations against the rebels. US military drones are undoubtedly playing a huge role in locating the militants.  Working together, these countries are hunting militant forces down and getting rid of them.

As a recent example, a Chadian army briefing picked up by Reuters News on February 22, 2013 reported its troops killed 65 of the Islamic radicals linked to al Qaeda in fierce fighting in northern Mali. 13 Chadian soldiers lost their lives in that battle, fought in the Adrar des Ifoghas Mountains of northeastern Mali.

Social media chatter is painting a clear picture of terrorists in retreat, trying to fight their way out of an ever-tightening circle of resolve to end their little game. The Mali conflict is far from over, but it may yet serve as a model of how to deal with al Qaeda and their like.

It’s an expensive campaign; but we’ve always known that freedom isn’t free.

Here’s a shout out to 100 or so brave American troops in Niger, to the French, and to AFISMA.

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