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July 22, 2022

“Continue to Sound the Alarm” – King Urges Pentagon Nominee for Africa Command to Not Take Eye Off Terrorist Groups

As the U.S. focuses on the challenges of Russia and China, King asks AFRICOM nominee to “be noisy” and keep Americans aware of threats from Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) urged a top Pentagon nominee to ensure the Department of Defense and Biden administration maintain their focus on terrorism threats in the Africa region as attention and resources are being directed to Russia and China. In a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, King asked Lieutenant General Michael Langley – nominee to be general and Commander of United States Africa Command – how he views the efforts of terrorist groups on the African continent and to continue sounding the alarm on the danger posed by these groups.

“General Langley, I'm concerned that in the current world situation, we are taking our eye off the terrorist threat, and it is certainly extremely serious in Africa,” said Senator King. “Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, please share with me your thoughts on that, because it's so easy in the time of Ukraine and the China challenge to sort of move the focus away from terrorism. But these people are still there. They're still hostile to this country, and I think they're still a threat to this country.”

“Senator, I fully concur with that assessment. [U.S. Marine Forces Africa] leaving there in late ‘21, it was already a concern. The atmospherics on the ground, as you look in the East, Al-Shabaab was really starting to take control, and [African Union Mission in Somalia] was incapable of holding. A matter of fact, they regressed. But the most focus we should put on is the metastasizing of the spread across the Sahel and also into the Lake Chad region. Other elements, Boko Haram was taken by some of the ISIS units that spring down from North Africa. And then we have [Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin] as well. So it is more of a problem today. That's my angle assessment,” replied General Langley. “But I am privy to this because in my current job force generation of these units, whether it be fast teams or whether it be the news that they're generated out of the East Coast, we have to address this and we have to train to those standards of combat and violent extremist organization. So, sir, it is a concern, Senator, and we need to be able to address it through a whole government approach, but also whole allies approach in the partnership in these various regions.”

“Well, I think part of your role is going to be to continue to sound the alarm, to not allow the focus of the Defense Department or the administration to completely ignore this threat. You're going to be on the frontlines of confronting it and understanding it. So I hope you'll be noisy about the threat that you see,” Senator King continued. “Mali is an example where the military coup has sort of opened the way for the Russians also to some extent to terrorist organizations.”


Continuing his questioning, King also pressed General Langley on the role Russia and China are playing in Africa.  Senator King has long expressed concern that the Chinese pouring money into Africa is creating a “debt colonialism” expansion of its influence on the continent.

“I was aware of the Chinese efforts in various parts of Africa, but Russia is taking a very active role as well,” said Senator King. “Isn't that correct?”

“Senator that is correct. The Wagner Group, they have ill intentions, their methods is more a political military, but issuing weapons or selling of weapons, it just brings on fragility especially across fragile countries,” concluded Gen. Langley. “So that's why we still, all the capital, we are still the partner of choice, so if confirmed, we will re-engage, we will reset, as General Towns is already relooking at West Africa at this time.”

From the threats posed by nuclear weapons to terrorist groups, as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Intelligence Committee, Senator King has worked to strengthen national security and keep Americans safe. He recently announced the draft of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes key provisions to address the pressing national security challenges facing our country.

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