Airmen, Agadez civic leaders build partnership

  • Published
  • 435th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Nigerien civic leaders, regional security officials, religious leaders and media reporters from the Agadez region, met with U.S. and Nigerien military leaders from the 724th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron during a tour of Nigerien Air Base 201, Feb. 21.

The purpose of the visit was to educate local leaders and demystify concerns the local community may have about the construction projects on base.

Lt. Col. Brad Harbaugh, commander, 724th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron, initiated the visit to put to rest any misconceptions about the base and used the tour to discuss mutual security goals and showcase the progress of various construction projects on base.

“Air Base 201 is a Nigerien Air Base with a U.S. camp on the base,” Harbaugh said. “This is their base and we’re here supporting their mission and their security.”

Harbaugh also said that with more than 20 members, this was the first time a delegation of this size has come on base and taken a tour of the construction. Agadez Region Governor, Sadou Soloke, was also able to see construction efforts for the first time since 2016.  

“I have a good relationship with the American military on this base,” Soloke said. “I think we all have come to realize that we have the same goals and we should work towards achieving them together.”

According to Capt. Bryce Bergman, 31st  Expeditionary RED HORSE director of operations, the request to build a runway, its associated facilities and infrastructure at Nigerien Air Base 201 came from the Government of Niger in 2013. 

The U.S. Air Force spent months planning and negotiating with the Nigerien government before the 31st Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron officially began construction during the summer of 2016.

“There isn’t any big surprise for me here. I know the project. I know this is an agreement between two countries and is mutually useful for both countries,” said Soloke. “I would like to thank the higher authorities of our country, who have agreed to the construction of these infrastructures, which will be useful for us.”

Harbaugh explained that the U.S. military remains committed to helping its African partners protect their borders with matters of national security and other efforts important to the citizens of Niger.

“This was a historic visit,” said Harbaugh. “America needs to know that hundreds of its sons and daughters are undertaking the largest Air Force troop-led military construction project in history. It’s nothing short of miraculous.”