Obama dragged us into creating The Africa Command and sending all sorts of special operators to "advise" locals against terrorists. Across the continent on any given day, about 6,500 U.S. troops and 1,000 contractors are involved in U.S. military operations, Marine Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, the chief of U.S. Africa Command, told the House Armed Services Committee this month. More than 4,000 of them are based in East Africa in Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya. [skip] Under President Barack Obama, the White House often pressed the Pentagon to find more surveillance flights for operations in Africa, said Brian McKeon, who served as both a Pentagon and White House official in the Obama administration. The expectation in the latter years of the Obama administration was that a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan would free up some surveillance aircraft, he said, but it did not work out that way. From Pentagon grapples with a thorny question after Niger ambush: What next in Africa?