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107th Attack Wing troops caught up in US departure from Niger

107th Attack Wing boards a CH-47F Chinook helicopter. (107th Attack Wing/Facebook)

As the United States plans on pulling out from the African country of Niger later this year, troops from a Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station unit have been caught up in the proceedings.

The 107th Attack Wing had troops deployed to Niger this past fall as part of MQ-9 reaper drone missions based in the county, Deputy Commander Col. Steven Hefferon explained during the Niagara Military Affairs Council annual meeting earlier this month.

The U.S. has conducted drone operations out from two air bases in the country since 2013, as part of counter-terrorism operations across North Africa with the French military. In 2023, a military coup in Niger resulted in a military junta taking over, one that wanted U.S. and French troops to leave.

“We still have a handful of security forces over in Niger,” Hefferon said, adding those troops will soon be leaving the country altogether.

The United States reached an agreement with Niger in May to withdraw its remaining troops, numbering less than 1,000, by Sept. 15. As of last Friday, there are reportedly 600 troops still in the country. All French troops have left as of the end of 2023.

Russian troops have appeared at the same base where the 107th troops were stationed.

The 107th’s Public Affairs Officer provided the following statement to the Gazette as it asked further about the troops after that NIMAC meeting:

“The 107th has a long history of supporting combatant commanders overseas and due to the recent events in Niger, operational security and most importantly, the safety of our personnel, we aren’t at liberty to discuss details of any ongoing deployments.”

WGRZ reported last week that members of New York’s Congressional delegation, including Rep. Nick Langworthy and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, have been pushing the Biden Administration for more information about the airbase troops deployed to Niger. Langworthy reportedly sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken raising the troops’ families’ concerns and referencing the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Gazette reached out for comment from Langworthy, Gillibrant, Rep. Claudia Tenney, Rep. Tim Kennedy, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, who did not respond in time for this story’s publication.


(c) 2024 the Niagara Gazette

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