US officials describing the military operation in Niger, which only became public knowledge earlier this month after four US special forces were killed in an ambush, have not only revealed that nearly 1,000 US troops are on the ground in Niger, a massive force for the tiny country, but that this is the "hub" for US military operations in Western Africa.
Details on what exactly that means are scant, since the Niger military operation was basically a secret, and by extension so are all the other regional operations that we're not being told about. Officials did assure reporters Niger has the most troops in the region.
Niger has hosted a US drone base for years, and about 100 troops were reported deployed in 2012. Somewhere between then and now, this increased ten-fold, and those troops started engaging in patrols. African Command says there are no armed US warplanes in West Africa at present, but that they rely on French warplanes.