U.S. Leads Training Exercises in Africa Amid Focus on Sahel by Carley Petesch – Associated Press

Crouching in the sparse brush, maneuvering into formations through a divide, and then shooting at a target, about 10 soldiers from Burkina Faso are among a select group of African soldiers being trained to battle West Africa’s fast-growing extremist threat.

They are carrying out drills as part of the U.S. military-led annual counterterrorism exercise in West Africa, which this year takes place in the shadow of possible U.S. troop cuts in Africa although extremist attacks in the region have reached a worrying new level.

A Pentagon decision on the size of the U.S. force in Africa is pending as part of a global review with the aim of better countering Russia and China.

More than 1,500 service members from the armies of 34 African and partner training nations have assembled for the Flintlock exercises in Senegal and Mauritania, the two countries in West Africa’s sprawling Sahel region that so far have not been hit by violence from extremists linked to al-Qaida or the Islamic State group.

The U.S. Africa Command, which organizes the two weeks of training, defers questions about the possible troop cuts to the Pentagon…

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