Okay, first off, I have no problems with the general thrust of your article. The US does seem to be engaged in endless and seemingly intractable wars. However the US public is also the first to scream blue murder if something happens? Why didn’t you know about it? Who’s fault is it? Why didn’t you anticipate and interdict it?
Many of the African missions are designed to do just that and while I can’t speak about the US perspective, I can discuss from the African perspective somewhat.
First, to criticize, you need to know your geography somewhat. So you have posted a bunch of articles showing that Graham was in meetings where Commander Africom briefed about the US working with troops from Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroun etc… to root out Boko Haram. Of course that would suggest a lot of that training is going on in Niger… So presto Graham knew why and were they were there…
But this is an example of ignorance from many Americans about African geography. The Boko Haram mission is focused primarily on Nothern Nigeria and a very little bit on parts of South West Chad, around the Lake Chad Basin and possibly North West Cameroun BECAUSE that is where Boko Haram is based. At some point Boko Haram controlled an area almost the size of Belgium in North East Nigeria although that has now been whittled down to a few bits of territory deep in the Sambisa forest and basically co-mingling with supportive populations of which there are few.
The recent attack happened in the North West of Niger close to Mali… it had nothing to do with Boko Haram (on the face of it) and so that aspect of the mission may not be known to Graham.
Secondly it is important to understand why this is important… 9–11 was launched by Al Qaeda once that had established roots in Afghanistan… When ISIS managed to own land in Syria and Iraq, they inspired or directly launched a number of attacks in Europe and elsewhere although the bulk of the havoc was against local populaces in the middle east.
Similarly, if Boko Haram is allowed to flourish, right now it is Nigerians, Nigeriens, Chadians and Camerounians dying (and most in the west could care less) but I can assure you, should they become established they will seek to make a bigger splash by causing harm to the west (at that point, I will care less).
So while I am not in support of US troops gallivanting our areas using drones to export their particular brand of foreign relations, I can understand how they would decide it is not in their interest to sit it out.
Boko Haram has caused the deaths of up to 100,000 Africans mostly Nigerians and to the internal displacement and threat of starvation of some 3 million more. They are not migrating to Europe so most people don’t care.
Now to the mission the US troops KIA were most likely involved with, we come to the doctrine of unintended consequences…
The destabilization of Libya, most likely pushed by Western and some middle eastern enclaves, led to the establishment of hard line Islamists in what had hitherto being a generally moderate (at least as far as Islam goes) areas. These became Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and they exported their issues into Mali, parts of Algeria, Niger and in a sense are allied with Boko Haram. While the primary western influencer in the destabilization of Libya was France, who fought a proxy war using Chadian forces with Libya, the US largely supported using air power and the end result is the same… lots of African deaths and radical Islamists gaining footholds and in some cases holding territory. Now France, the local forces and some elements of US special forces are trying to hold back that surge.
Boko Haram is a largely local Nigerian issue driven by a mixture of cockamamie radical Islamist ideology and local Nigerian conditions (corruption, mismanagement, economic hardship, hopelessness) but a lot of the supporting elements and AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Maghreb) have their roots in Western intervention and adventurism. That mess being created, it is too late to stop and just get out now.