Graham Says Terrorism War Expanding, Citing Africa Clash

  • Defense secretary Mattis briefed senators on deadly ambush
  • ‘You are going to see more actions in Africa,’ Graham says

Senator Lindsey Graham said after meeting with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis about a deadly ambush in Niger that the war on terrorism will expand with more aggressive rules of engagement.

“The war is morphing," the South Carolina Republican told reporters Friday in Washington. “You are going to see more actions in Africa, not less. You are going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less. We are going to have decisions being made not in the White House but out in the field.”

Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, said he discussed with Mattis the four U.S. soldiers who were killed this month in an ambush in Niger. Graham said he expects Armed committee John McCain of Arizona to call a briefing next week on what happened. Questions have been raised about whether the special forces were given adequate intelligence and support.

Mattis told reporters Thursday that U.S. operations in Niger are conducted “by, with and through allies,” led by the French. U.S. Africa Command released a statement Friday saying there are about 800 U.S. military personnel in Niger, “largely providing training and security assistance” to Niger’s armed forces to help “target violent extremist organizations in the region.”

Graham said Friday that when terrorists are defeated in one country, they move to another, creating a need to expand the scope of military operations to oppose them. A U.S.-led coalition has retaken most of the territory that was held by Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

Some lawmakers will want to debate whether expanding the war on terrorism requires a new congressional authorization to use military force, said Graham, who added that he opposes the idea because it’s the president’s responsibility. Trump has authorized more aggressive rules of engagement and more decision-making by military leaders in the field.

“I will insist as the war expands, and as the rules change to be more aggressive, that Congress is informed more often and in more detail,” he said.

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