Inhofe asks Army to consider sending 500 more soldiers to Africa

Inhofe asks Army to consider sending 500 more soldiers to Africa

The acting Senate Armed Services Committee head wants to know the feasibility of sending a special brigade of 500 soldiers to Africa to help in more dangerous advise-and-assist missions.

Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeThis week: House Democrats voting to hold Barr, Ross in contempt House and Senate head for showdown on must-pass defense bill Overnight Defense: House approves 3 billion defense bill | Liberal sweeteners draw progressive votes | Bill includes measure blocking Trump from military action on Iran MORE (R-Okla.), in a Monday letter to Army Secretary Mark Esper, asked for his "views and the feasibility and suitability of assigning one of the future Security Forces Assistant Brigades" to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to meet future requirements.

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The Army last year announced it would stand up six Security Forces Assistant Brigades as part of new unit meant to help advise and assist local forces in more dangerous missions across the globe.

The brigades — expected to be operational within two years — will include noncommissioned and senior officers who will be trained similar to Special Forces and will focus on countering terrorist groups, Army chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley said in October.

Putting one such brigade under the control of AFRICOM would help maintain training and readiness for soldiers already in the region, said Inhofe, who is the acting head of the Senate Armed Services Committee while Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Lindsey Graham: 'Graham wants to bring back 1950s McCarthyism' Meghan McCain knocks Lindsey Graham for defending Trump's tweets: 'This is not the person I used to know' MORE (R-Ariz.) is out receiving cancer treatments.

“As you know, AFRICOM does not have any assigned forces, but must compete for allocated forces within the Department of Defense's global force management process,” Inhofe wrote.

Milley said the Army would stand up the assistance brigades after four Army soldiers were killed and two were injured on Oct. 4 while on a joint patrol with Nigerien soldiers. The group was ambushed by militants tied to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

About 800 American troops are currently serving in Niger, and the Pentagon has roughly 6,000 personnel throughout the African continent.