ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — The U.S. military plans to return to Chad within a month for talks about revising an agreement that allows it to keep troops based there, an American general said Wednesday.

The U.S. said last month it was withdrawing most of its contingent of about 100 troops from Chad after the government questioned the legality of their operations there. This followed Niger’s decision to order all U.S. troops out of the country, dealing a blow to U.S. military operations in the Sahel, a vast region south of the Sahara desert where groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group operate.

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Michael Langley, the commander of U.S. Africa Command, made the comments to reporters in Ghana at the second annual African Maritime Forces Summit, or AMFS.


Does Chad have any geostrategic value for the United States? Chad wants the U.S. military out of the country, but the U.S. insist that they want to keep its troop there trying to arrange talks with the country within a month. My question is what geostrategic value the country holds, because obviously there must be a geostrategic value to having troops stationed there.

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    Even without any known geostrategic value for the US at the current time, it makes sense to have a small continent of 100 troops stationed there. You never know how things can unfold and for what they may be needed. OTOH is a bad idea to keep them there if they are unwanted. In the absence of an actual conflict An unwanted military prescense is far more likely to cause problems than prevent them
    – Schmerel
    Commented May 5 at 16:18
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    Imagine a line of dominoes set up, such as in this video. youtube.com/watch?v=MK1VPyx0gXg ... If Chad is able to have a secure society without US presence, other countries in Africa might want the same thing. One country after another would want to go its own way, and explore alternatives to US benevolence. Next thing you know, Canada and Mexico would start getting ideas. This is unacceptable. There is always geostrategic value in every country for this reason. Only through the ability to project power into all countries, can one be truly secure in their global leadership position.
    – Pete W
    Commented May 5 at 17:16
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    The Sahel area is seeing quite a bit of instability with Islamic insurgencies, renewed Russian influencing and France out-booting. There's nothing all that bizarre with the US having some level of interest in a big central country in the region. Commented May 5 at 18:18
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    this dealt a blow to US operations in the Sahel (a vast region south of the Sahara) where groups such as Al Qaida operate. . . Doesn't that answer your question about the geopolitical significance?
    – James K
    Commented May 5 at 20:03

3 Answers 3


One should not exaggerate Chad's importance for the US, but..

With gold and crude oil under its soil, Chad is considered key because it hosts the last major French military base in the region — France has 1,000 soldiers deployed in at least three sites — and is emerging as the alternative to Niger for U.S. troops in Washington’s strategy to fight jihadist terrorism in the Sahel and the Lake Chad region. Moscow is also pulling strings to win the favor of the Chadian regime. [...]

The fear that Chad might also fall into Putin’s orbit is also due to a clear geopolitical issue: it would allow a land connection between the Central African Republic and Sudan, where Wagner’s mercenaries have been operating for years, and Moscow’s new allies in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, creating a continent-wide belt of Russian influence.

Note also that the US involvement in Chad had its critics US-side. Chad rates as poorly as many dictatorships in Freedom House's index [about par with Egypt], so you get the idea, on that angle.

You can see what the loss of Chad bases would mean for the US; hard[er] to get to the ISWAP (as it mostly displaced Boko Haram) around Lake Chad, with the Niger bases gone and the Nigeria not willing to host foreign troops, despite being significantly affected by ISWAP & Boko Haram. Yeah, the US still has a drone base in Cameroon, that's within range. (It's actually in the north of Cameroon at Garua, so somewhat close to Lake Chad.) The US is also seeking to diversify its drone bases in the region after the Niger setback, holding talks with neighboring Ghana, Benin, and Ivory Coast (countries which also happen to have somewhat more democratic credentials). However none of these is particularly close to Lake Chad. These three countries are also more directly threatened by the expanding JNIM insurgency directly to their north (in Burkina-Faso), and they've also formed the Accra Initiative to cooperate against that.

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OTOH, Chad also host the pan-African MJTF, tasked with fighting against those Islamic extremist.


obviously there must be a geostrategic value to having troops stationed there.

False. According to Al-Jazeera "the US had around 173,000 troops deployed in 159 countries as of 2020." So Chad is just another country like any other.

That said, the US Department of State has a fact sheet about its relationship with Chad. There's oil and there's regional security issues, and those things will influence the level of US investment in its military presence. But again, the quote in the question in no way implies something special about Chad. To the contrary, if there were the US might be more insistent about staying and would have a lot more than just 100 troops there.


Does Chad have any geostrategic value for the United States?

Chad is one of the countries along the southern Sahel fringe of the Sahara desert. All across the Sahel, there has been fierce ethnic and religious between Muslims who had herder societies in the pre-modern period (and sometimes still do today) in the north, and Christian and/or animist peoples who had subsistence farming societies in the pre-modern period (and sometimes still do today.

As the Sahara gradually expands due to climate change, the peoples in the north are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their way of life, leading to radicalization, Islamic fundamentalism, a willingness to resort to violence, and susceptibility to outside forces who want to manipulate their distress for their own ends. So, extremist Islamist forces have been pushing to impose their system and expand their territory into traditionally non-Islamic, historically farmer territory.

While the U.S. is not anti-Muslim, as a matter of policy, per se (and indeed has mostly Muslim international allies, at least for some purposes), it is opposed to the regimes and tactics of groups like the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (which it has authorization to go to war with under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force enacted by the U.S. Congress after 9-11) and its affiliates. Its presence in Chad and other Sahel countries reflects a desire of the U.S. to do something to opposed extreme Islamist fundamentalist expansion in these regions in what has often led to near genocidal wars of ethnic conquest.

The U.S. sees these regimes as poor future allies and fears the harm that the success of these Islamist movements could cause if they are successful in the Sahel and then expand their global influence.

But the U.S. involvement has been modest and measured, because, in general, U.S. foreign policy has de-emphasized sub-Saharan Africa, where its historical and colonial ties are pretty much limited to tiny Liberia, in favor of former European colonial powers in the region.

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