American troops in Africa would get reassignments and Special Operations commands would be drawn down in plans that Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, United States Africa Command leader, submitted, The New York Times reported.
The changes are in response to a Donald Trump administration strategy to focus more on threats from China and Russia, the report said.
Defense Department officials said that they expected most of the cuts to troops and scaled-back missions would come from Central and West Africa, where Special Operations has focused on training African militaries to take on extremist Islamist military groups, the report said.
Waldhauser said his plan would not mean an exit from Africa.
“We’re not walking away,” Waldhauser said, noting that the U.S. reserved the right to “unilaterally return” if needed to protect American interests, The Times reported.
The Africa drawdown will include hundreds of Special Operations troops and their support forces departing, and would begin in locations such as Cameroon, where American war planning officials believe their training efforts have succeeded, the report said.
“They can do it on their own. That would be an example of a country where we have worked ourselves out of a job,” said Waldhauser, The Times reported.
Washington officials are now reviewing the cuts. Waldhauser said that the cuts will not be as deep for Green Berets, but did not provide specific figures because of classification rules, the report said.
As Special Operations units draw down, National Guard units from California, Michigan, and Indiana could team up with African militaries, the report said.
It is not clear if Secretary of Defense James Mattis will approve the proposal.
“No decisions or changes had been made yet to the forces operating in Africa,” said Pentagon spokesperson Major Sheryll Klinkel, CNN reported.
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