The announcement came the same day that the Pentagon released a summary of its final U.S. Africa Command report on an October ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. troops and others.
The Trump administration has come under fire for what critics called a lack of diplomatic engagement with Africa. Major countries like South Africa and Tanzania remain without an American emissary. President Donald Trump provoked an uproar in January when he reportedly called African and other nations “shithole” places. And the rising threat of terror groups in West Africa, along with ongoing conflicts in South Sudan and Somalia, has sparked calls for the U.S. to do more.
The White House was reported to have selected J. Peter Pham for the assistant secretary post last year, but Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) reportedly threatened to scuttle that choice over a Western Sahara disagreement.