While the drone debate continues to grow, the administration is moving to expand their use. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. Air Force began flying surveillance drones from a base in Niger late last month.
“Since taking office in 2009, President Obama has relied heavily on drones for operations, both declared and covert, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. U.S. drones also fly from allied bases in Turkey, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines.
“Now, they are becoming a fixture in Africa. The U.S. military has built a major drone hub in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, and flies unarmed Reaper drones from Ethiopia. Until recently, it conducted reconnaissance flights over East Africa from the island nation of the Seychelles.
“The Predator drones in Niger, a landlocked and dirt-poor country, give the Pentagon a strategic foothold in West Africa.”
At this point, the primary objective from the new base is the fight against an Islamic insurgency in Mali, intelligence information from the drones is shared with French and African troops involved.