The Islamic State continues to suffer defeat in Iraq and Syria, leading some militants to flee to Africa, according to Senate Armed Services Committee members.
On Thursday, after a classified briefing regarding the attack on U.S. troops in Niger, committee members said it will be necessary for the United States military to have a continued presence on the continent.
“The more we succeed on the Middle East, the more we are going to see the snakes run to Africa and we’ve got to be prepared to advise and assist the nations there that are willing to work with us,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said.
“There is no doubt that there is a rising terrorist threat in West Africa, and indeed, that threat may be growing with the fall of Mosul, the fall of Raqqa,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas. “So, I have no doubt that there will be a continued need for U.S. military presence in Africa because of the proliferation of radical Islamic terrorists with the stated intention of murdering Americans.”
Some members said the military needed more funding to better equip forces in the region. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) believes that with the fight against the Islamic State moving to Africa, the United States needs to lift caps on defense spending.
“Stop sequestration so we can arm, train and equip these young people who are fighting,” McCain said.
Thursday’s briefing was presented by military officials who relayed the latest findings regarding the attack by an ISIS-affiliated group on Oct. 4. On that day, U.S. Army advisers, who were in Niger to assist the country in combating Islamic terrorism, conducted a reconnaissance mission to a local village. During the mission, they were ambushed, leaving four U.S. soldiers dead.
The United States Africa Command is investigating the incident.
“The tragic outcome of this incident, in my view, can be attributed to lack of support in intelligence and other resources that are necessary,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said.
Blumenthal has also called for additional funding.