Despite years of bullying from the violent extremist group Boko Haram, the folks of the Diffa area in southeastern Niger had never held a summit to face the danger – maybe with good reason.
The prefect, Inoussa Saouna in Diffa, told 75 hamlet leaders gathered in the town ‘s light blue-walled cultural centre along with politicians and military commanders.
The exact same early September day, a double suicide bombing that bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram killed 19 people in Cameroon that is nearby.
The Diffa assembly proved to be a modest success not merely for its distrustful tribes but also to get a tiny team of fewer than 20 US Special Operations Forces running an experiment which is a part of President Barack Obama’s new counterterrorism strategy.
The soldiers, who helped supply a ring of security and supported the assembly, wear uniforms, as well as don’t go into battle.
They have been gently attempting to help Niger construct a wall against the incursions of Boko Haram and its own recruiting of the youth in Diffa.
In Niger, Nigeria, Chad and elsewhere, they may be performing Obama’s comparatively low-risk strategy of countering Islamic extremists by locating local partners prepared to fight as an alternative to deploying combat troops from the thousands.
The newest strategy, which Obama declared in May 2014, is far from truly being a silver bullet for the US in its international conflict against Islamic militancy.
The indirect strategy seems to be faltering in the Middle East, where the US has seen few allies that are trusted on the battle field in Syria.
In Iraq, US-trained and -equipped forces evaporated in the surface of the offensive of Islamic State.
There are indications of success against Boko Haram, although improvement will likely not be fast in a years-long attempt, US European and African officials say.
US officials say they see mostly Muslim Niger worth helping.
Comparatively steady, but facing local and national elections in 2016, Boko Haram in Nigeria threatens it to an Al Qaeda affiliate that runs in neighbouring Mali and Algeria, turmoil in Libya to the north and the south.
The US soldiers in Diffa described their assignment as a sharp and welcome pivot in the Afghan and Iraq wars, where almost every one of them served.
The US military hasn’t said their existence will continue.
“It is an entirely different way of the problem set,” an American team sergeant said within an interview.
The Special Operations soldiers are unable to be recognized by name under ground rules that are military.
In Afghanistan and Iraq, the US also works with leaders and local security forces – but has wielded a large number of drone strikes combat troops and assistance jobs that are expensive.