Nigér has been supplied with several pieces of military equipment from Washington to support its fight against jihadists plaguing the west and southeast of the country.
The shipment consists mainly of vehicles, including 8 OTT Puma armoured vehicles, 43 Toyota Land Cruiser trucks, and other equipment valued at $13 million (8.5 billion CFA francs).
The vehicles will equip the 11th special intervention battalion (BSI).
The new support for Niger “is proof of the strength of our relations with the United States” in view of the “rise in capacity” of the Niger Armed Forces, said Defense Minister Alkassoum Indatou, who received the equipment in Niamey.
The equipment will be used for a German-funded special forces training centre in Tillia, in the western Tahoua region, where jihadist groups affiliated to the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda are active. The equipment will also be used to train Niger soldiers serving with the United Nations mission in Mali, which also faces jihadist violence.
Nigér and the United States have had a military cooperation agreement since 2015 on “security and good governance” under which the two countries committed “to work together on the fight against terrorism.” Under the agreement, the US military must also “train Niger’s military in the fight against terrorism,” according to the agreement. The US government has over the past few years increased its military presence in Niger, which has allowed it to build a large drone base at Agadez near Libya at an estimated cost of around $100 million.
On October 4, 2017, four United States soldiers and five Nigerien soldiers were killed in an ambush by the Islamic State group in Tongo Tongo, a village in the Tillaberi region in the “three borders” zone, which borders Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso.
In 2017, an estimated 800 US troops — mostly special forces — were deployed against jihadist groups.
The United States has since provided Niger with armoured vehicles, military surveillance and transport planes, and military communications and communications centre to help it fight the jihadists. Earlier in March, the United States Government gifted used construction equipment it deemed to expensive to ship back stateside to Nigér. The transfer of vehicles and equipment between the US and Niger has been a two-year coordination process, and vital in assisting Niger’s Armed Forces in the fight against violent extremism and defend against transnational threats while also alleviating storage limitations for airmen in Africa, the Air Force said.
Likewise, in August 2020, the US department of defense donated ten 4×4 Mercedes Atego troop transport trucks to the Nigerien Armed Forces. It has also provided a logistics warehouse as part of the donation. The donation which was delivered on May 27 will be used under the G5 Sahel Joint Force, in combating terrorism in the region.
Twenty-two Osprea Mamba Mk 7 armoured vehicles worth $8 million, was handed over to the Nigerien military by the United States as part of its efforts to support its fight against terrorism, transnational organized crime, and trafficking in the Sahel. The vehicles which includes 15 Osprea Logistics Mamba Mk 7 armoured personnel carriers, four Mamba Mk 7 armoured command vehicles and three Mamba Mk 7 armoured ambulances. Also handed over were two Toyota land cruiser ambulances and four armoured vehicle mechanic tool sets were handed over on 5 August.
In the same vein, on 5 December, 2019, the US delivered 13 Mamba armoured personnel carriers and other equipment to the Nigérien military. This transfer is part of a $21 million donation, including 13 Mamba armoured personnel carriers ( Mamba-7s supplied by Osprea Logistics), 86 radio systems, and four Armoury Containers, with the first batch handed over on 6 June in Niamey, which included transport, fuel, and water trucks; GPS-enabled navigation systems, fuel containers, military tents and individual soldier equipment.