US considers establishing UAV base in northwest Africa

The U.S. military wants to establish a base for unarmed Predators to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in northwest Africa in an area where it is extremely difficult to gather human intelligence, reports the New York Times.

Establishment of the base, which most likely would be in Niger, or perhaps Burkina Faso, would enable the U.S. Africa Command (Africom) to supplement its ISR resources to counter anti-terrorism efforts, the story said. Africom currently has a pressing need for additional ISR assets to furnish assistance to French and Malian troops engaged against al Qaeda-backed fighters in the northern section of Mali.

Africom's plan is under review by the Pentagon, and it also will require approval by the White House, the story said. Although the U.S. military has used various airstrips as temporary drone bases in Africa, its only permanent drone base is in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, thousands of miles from Mali, where operations are conducted against Somalia and Yemen.

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