US Military Defends Africa Strategy Amid Coups And Drift Toward Russia

Gen. Michael Langley, the head of the U.S. military in Africa, vigorously defended the country’s counterterrorism strategy on the continent and vowed to press forward with it despite criticism and a drift among African nations toward seeking security help from Russia.

In an interview with The Associated Press at Africa Lion, a war games exercise in Morocco, Langley blamed Russian disinformation for anti-U.S. sentiment in volatile regions. He said the military needed to reassert how its longstanding strategy can foster stability throughout the Sahel, the semiarid region south of the Sahara Desert.

The U.S. military, with 6,000 members stationed in Africa, is facing setbacks as governments in Chad and Niger embrace Russian forces and paramilitaries and push for the U.S. to leave posts previously identified as critical to monitoring security challenges.

Langley attributed the negative sentiment against France, a key U.S. ally, to misinformation and disinformation fueled by the Russian Federation.

Despite the challenges, Langley said the United States planned to “double down and re-engage with these countries,” focusing on non-combat work addressing climate change, crop failure, tribal conflict, and displacement. He insisted that the military supports African countries in ways they see fit rather than imposing its ideas but argued that military juntas wouldn’t counter terrorism or ensure long-term stability.

As U.S. forces withdraw from Niger and Chad, Langley said the U.S. strategy would largely depend on guidance from West African countries about their security threats. He emphasized that the U.S. wants what countries are asking for and is not prescribing anything.