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Playing politics

U.S. troops are in combat across Africa, and the Pentagon won't admit it

U.S. special operations teams are directing and engaging in combat raids with African troops in countries including Cameroon, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Somalia, and Tunisia, Politico reported Monday, citing current and former American military officers and White House officials. These small-scale, secret wars are largely concealed by Pentagon obfuscation.

Functioning under a legal authority called Section 127e, such operations in Africa are "less, 'We're helping you,' and more, 'You're doing our bidding'" targeting suspected terrorists, an unnamed active-duty Green Beret officer told Politico.

Section 127e "funds classified programs under which African governments essentially loan out units of their militaries for American commando teams to use as surrogates to hunt militants identified as potential threats to American citizens or embassies," Politico explains. Joint U.S.-African commando teams go on raids together at American direction.

The mission in Niger that left four Americans dead in October was supporting a separate Section 127e operation. Two weeks after news of the deaths broke, Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie claimed that U.S. troops in Africa are "not directly involved in combat operations" or "direct-action missions with partner forces." Per Politico's sources, that's simply not correct — at best, a case of "lying by omission."

The secrecy and confusion surrounding Section 127e operations is made all the more troubling by a lack of accountability measures to ensure effectiveness, Politico reports, as well as its mostly unnoticed elevation to permanent status in 2017. Read the full story here.