U.S. Army Spc. Preston Seach, assigned to the East Africa Response Force (EARF), Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, participates in an emergency deployment response exercise, East Africa, May 17, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Chris Hibben)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday that U.S. strategic goals could include drawing down troops in Africa despite French pleas that American support is "critical" to countering the growing strength of terror groups in the region with links to the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

"My aim is to adjust our footprint in many places," including Africa, to free up forces for a "great power competition" against China and Russia, he said at a joint Pentagon news conference with French Defense Minister Florence Parly.

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks during a joint news conference with Japan's Defense Minister Taro Kono at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., January 14, 2020. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

MIAMI (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper suggested on Thursday he could be ready to start a highly anticipated global force repositioning this year as part of an effort to refocus the Pentagon on challenges from China and Russia.

Esper said he did not want to put a firm timeline on the completion of his so-called "defense-wide review," which is expected to trigger those troop movements.

"If I had to put an end-date (on the review), I want to make sure we are in some type of better posture by the beginning of the next fiscal year," Esper told reporters, referring to the government's calendar year for spending, which begins on Oct. 1. "So I want to move fairly quickly."

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U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned to the East Africa Response Force (EARF), 101st Airborne Division, board a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, on January 5, 2020. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Daniel Hernandez)

The Defense Department has remained relatively tight-lipped regarding the brazen Jan. 5 raid on a military base at Manda Bay, Kenya, but a new report from the New York Times provides a riveting account filled with new details about how the hours-long gunfight played out.

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In a Galaxy — err, I mean, on a military base far, far away, soldiers are standing in solidarity with galactic freedom fighters.

Sitting at the top of an Army press release from March 2019, regarding the East Africa Response Force's deployment to Gabon, the photo seems, at first glance, just like any other: Soldiers on the move.

But if you look closer at the top right, you'll find something spectacular: A Rebel Alliance flag.

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U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend during a tour north of Baghdad, February 8, 2017. (Associated Press/Ali Abdul Hassa)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

A four-star US Army general on Monday issued a statement calling the reports of his death in a terrorist attack in Kenya as "greatly exaggerated."

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U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Corban D. Lundborg

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Somalia's al Shabaab militant group attacked on Sunday a military base in Kenya used by both U.S. and Kenyan forces and published pictures of masked gunmen standing next to an aircraft in flames.

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) confirmed an attack on the Manda Bay Airfield in Lamu county, close to the Somali border. The Kenyan military said the attack was repelled and that four militants had been killed. There were no immediate reports of Kenyan or U.S. casualties.

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