Sen. Rand Paul Calls for Vote on Resolution to Remove U.S. Troops from Niger
Sen. Rand Paul is expected to push for a vote on a joint resolution that would require President Joe Biden to withdraw United States Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Niger within 30 days. The resolution highlights the fact that Congress has not declared war against Niger or any organization or group in Niger, nor has it provided specific authorization for the involvement of U.S. Armed Forces in the armed conflict or any hostilities in Niger.
Coup in Niger and U.S. Response
The move comes after the State Department declared a coup in Niger that took place over the summer. Despite the overthrow of the democratically elected president by a military junta that includes U.S.-trained military officers, the U.S. government initially refrained from officially designating it as an illegal takeover. As a result of the coup designation, the United States has suspended approximately $200 million in foreign assistance to Niger. However, it still maintains a significant military presence in the country, including a large drone base in Agadez and over 1,000 military personnel.
U.S. Military Involvement in Niger
Over the past decade, U.S. troop strength in Niger has grown by 900 percent, with U.S. Special Operations forces training local counterparts and engaging in combat operations. A Pentagon investigation following a 2017 ISIS ambush revealed that U.S. troops were involved in missions that resembled direct action rather than foreign partner-led operations. The resolution proposed by Sen. Paul aims to change course from this militarized response and adopt a more sustainable and rights-respecting approach to counterterrorism and national security.
Support for Sen. Paul’s Resolution
Heather Brandon-Smith, the legislative director for foreign policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, commended Sen. Paul’s resolution as a critical step toward redirecting U.S. policy. The resolution has also garnered endorsements from various organizations, including The American Conservative, Frontiers of Freedom, Concerned Veterans of America, the Center for Renewing America, Just Foreign Policy, Heritage Action, and the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.
Terrorist Violence in the Sahel
Despite significant military aid provided to Niger and its neighbors, terrorist violence in the African Sahel has escalated. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies reported a doubling in the number of violent events involving militant Islamist groups and a near tripling in fatalities linked to this violence since 2021. This highlights the need for a reassessment of the current approach to counterterrorism in the region.
Sen. Paul’s Efforts to Seek Information
Sen. Paul recently sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, requesting information about U.S. military operations in Niger and other parts of the world. However, he has yet to receive a response. The proposed resolution will provide an opportunity for elected officials to debate and go on record regarding the deployment of U.S. troops to Niger.
Sen. Rand Paul’s joint resolution calling for the removal of U.S. Armed Forces from Niger reflects concerns about the lack of congressional authorization and the need for a reevaluation of U.S. military involvement in the region. As support for the resolution grows, it remains to be seen how elected officials will respond and whether the United States will adopt a more sustainable and rights-respecting approach to counterterrorism and national security in Niger.