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10 Aug, 2023 16:39

White House doesn’t know if Pentagon vetting foreign fighters it trains

Foreign fighters were trained by the US in democracy support and anti-corruption, according to the Biden administration
White House doesn’t know if Pentagon vetting foreign fighters it trains

The White House doesn’t know if the Pentagon has a vetting process for the foreign fighters it provides with training, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby has admitted.

According to Politico, the official was asked by reporters on Wednesday whether the US was conducting a review of those it is training in light of recent coups, including the one in Niger, where the country’s military mutinied and detained President Mohamed Bazoum two weeks ago.

Kirby stated that he was not aware if the Pentagon was conducting any reviews, but noted that “specific time” of US training is spent on things such as “democracy support and the rule of law and anti-corruption efforts.”

His comments come after The Intercept said it had confirmed that one of the leaders of the coup in Niger, General Moussa Salaou Barmou, who previously acted as the chief of Niger’s Special Operations Forces, had been trained by the US military.

Barmou had reportedly received training at Fort Benning, Georgia and the National Defense University in Washington, according to the outlet, citing Nigerien sources and an anonymous US government official.

The American source also said it is likely that Barmou is not the only one taking part in the coup who has received US training. “I’m sure we will find out that others have been partners, have been involved in U.S. engagements,” he said of other members of Niger’s new military government, noting that US agencies were looking into the matter.

As noted by The Intercept, the coup in Niger is the 11th in the region, which has seen the involvement of US-trained officers in recent years. Previously, officers trained by the Pentagon were also responsible for takeovers in Burkina Faso, Mali, Gambia, Guinea, and Mauritania.

The outlet’s government sources noted that “We train to standards – the laws of war and democratic standards.” However, he noted that “these are foreign military personnel. We can’t control what they do. We have no way to stop them.”