Reports from CNN earlier this week are saying that the government of Niger has granted the US military the authority to arm its drones in Niger. US military officials had been seeking the authority to arm its drones for months prior to the ambush of a US Special Forces unit that left four soldiers dead.
Since that attack in October has goaded US officials to press the Niger government with a renewed sense of urgency to allow the arming of drones.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford told reporters that a remotely piloted drone aircraft arrived overhead within minutes of the soldiers’ request for support but defense officials told CNN that it was unarmed due to the previous prohibition on armed drones.
It is unclear what if any authority military commanders have to conduct drone strikes in Niger.
“The Government of Niger and the US stand firm in working together to prevent terrorist organizations from using the region as a safe haven. For operational security reasons, I will not comment on specific military authorities or permissions,” Maj. Audricia Harris said.
The New York Times was the first to report Niger’s granting of authority to arm drones.
There are currently around 800 US troops in the country of Niger, most are helping to build a new drone operational base in the town of Agadez. The current base for drone operations is located near the civilian airport in the capital of Niamey.
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