Pentagon official: US military able to work with Chad despite travel ban


Chad’s inclusion in President Trump’s travel ban and its subsequent decision to withdraw hundreds of troops from Niger has not affected the U.S. military’s ability to work with the central African nation in the fight against terrorism, a Pentagon official said Thursday.

“From a DOD perspective, we have not seen any … operational impact in terms of our ability to work with the Chadian forces as part of our … counterterrorism partnership activities,” David Trachtenberg, acting under secretary of Defense for policy, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee during a hearing.

The third iteration of Trump’s travel ban included Chad among a list of countries whose citizens are to be restricted from entering the United States.

Pentagon and State Department officials reportedly opposed Chad’s inclusion, given the country’s partnership with the U.S. military in counterterrorism efforts against Boko Haram.

Weeks after the administration listed Chad, the country withdrew troops from a multinational task force fighting Boko Haram in Niger.

Liberal commentators speculated the withdrawal contributed to October the attack on U.S. special forces in Niger that killed four soldiers. But Defense and Africa experts have said the theory makes no sense, because the Niger attack happened near that country’s border with Mali, where Chadian forces were not operating before, and was carried out by forces associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, not Boko Haram.

Asked by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) if Chad’s withdrawal played a role in the attack, Trachtenberg said he could not answer.

“That’s a question I’d have to take for the record. I can’t answer that,” he said.

Further asked by Bass why Chad was included in the travel ban, Trachtenberg said he did not have an answer, but repeated there has been no operational effect.

“All I can tell you, congresswoman, is at least operationally we’ve seen no impact in terms of our ability to work with them as partners,” he said. 

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