In light of the events in Niger, the question members of Congress, journalists and other interested parties should be asking is, why isn’t there more support for U.S. forces on the ground in Africa, especially in those countries facing active terrorist groups? More specifically, why didn’t the Green Berets have access to better airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)? Broadly speaking, the type of challenge confronting U.S. ground forces in the vast expanses of the Sahel, with its largely uncontrolled borders, begs for the kind of ISR that today only the Air Force’s Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) can provide. The Air Force needs to recognize that the tragedy in Niger seals the case for its long-standing JSTARS recapitalization plan. In fact, it argues for accelerating the recapitalization program and even for acquiring additional JSTARS platforms. I have written more about this topic for The National Interest here.
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