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US withdraws troops from base in Chad following government demand

Originally Published: 01 MAY 24 11:48 ET

By Natasha Bertrand, CNN

(CNN) — The US military has withdrawn troops from a French military base in Chad after the country demanded they leave last month, a Pentagon spokesperson and other sources familiar with the matter told CNN on Wednesday.

More than half of the US troops stationed at the French military base in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, have now left the country and relocated to Germany.

CNN previously reported that fewer than 100 US troops were stationed in Chad, most of them as part of the US’ Special Operations Task Force, an important hub for US Special Operations Forces in the region.

The Special Operations Task Force was previously based in Germany before moving to Chad in 2021.

“We can confirm the safe and orderly relocation of approximately 60 US forces from Chad to Germany where they will continue their work,” Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Pete Nguyen told CNN on Wednesday. “This temporary step is part of an ongoing review of our security cooperation, which will resume after the May 6 Presidential election.”

The withdrawal was completed on Tuesday, Nguyen said.

Some US forces will remain in the country working out of the US embassy there, in addition to the Marines who will continue providing embassy security, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The withdrawal of the troops in Chad comes just over a month after the military government of neighboring Niger ended its agreement with the US military that allowed American personnel to operate in the country. The US is currently negotiating a safe and orderly withdrawal of the over 1,000 US troops still in Niger, with discussions focusing mostly on logistics like securing clearances for military flights in and out of the country, an official said.

The withdrawal from Chad comes after Chadian officials sent a letter to the US defense attaché last month threatening to cancel the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, which determines the rules and conditions under which US military personnel can operate in the country. The letter demanded that all US forces leave the French base in N’Djamena, CNN previously reported.

A defense official and another source familiar with the matter characterized the dispute as largely a paperwork issue that will likely be resolved after Chad’s elections this month.

But taken together, the developments come at a critical time for US interests in Africa, as American officials have warned that Russian influence is expanding across the continent.

Marine Corps Gen. Michael Langley, head of US Africa Command, told lawmakers in March that Central African countries were “in a dilemma,” needing developmental assistance from countries like Russia and China but balancing those needs against “risks to national sovereignty.”

“In this region, the stakes are high,” Langley said.

Langley visited Chad in January this year alongside AFRICOM’s senior enlisted advisor, Sgt. Maj. Michael Woods. While in the country, Langley met with Chadian military leaders including Gen. Abakar Abdelkerim Daoud, Chad’s Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, according to an AFRICOM press release at the time.

Langley said in the release that AFRICOM “remains dedicated to building enduring partnerships with Chad and other African nations.”

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