Major Jahara Matisek, USAF, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Military and Strategic Studies at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Dr. William Reno is a Professor in the Political Science Department at Northwestern University.

If one accepts that the American military is the most powerful armed force in human history, why does it have a mixed record when it comes to building up foreign armies in weak states?

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Spc. John Lytle/US Army

Vice News has obtained a list of at least 21 named U.S. military operations that have taken place or are still ongoing on the African continent, so we might as well figure out which names are badass and which are just incredibly absurd.

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Buried deep inside Congress' recently published report on this year's National Defense Authorization Act, there's an interesting section, in dense legalese, that seems to say: Yo, Pentagon, you need to tell us what the hell you're doing when you're doing it.

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As of May 24th, four cases of Ebolas’s Zaire strain have been confirmed in the city of Mbandaka in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the 18 days since the first case was reported, authorities have reported 18 confirmed and 21 probable cases of the horrifying virus; 27 have died in the DRC since the outbreak began, nearly twice as many those who perished there during the course of the entire 2014 outbreak. Making things somehow worse, two infected patients escaped quarantine on May 23rd and were later found dead inside the city. The population of Mbandaka is around 1.2 million people, nearly the same size as Dallas, Texas; the new Ebola outbreak will almost certainly get worse before it gets better.

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South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP / Mike Stocker.

In recognition of their dangerous mission, U.S. troops in Niger will now receive up to $225 a month in “imminent danger pay” – five months after Islamic State fighters ambushed and killed four U.S. soldiers in the African country, a defense official told Task & Purpose.

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Defense Department / Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher C. Klutts.

The Pentagon is refusing to confirm whether a disturbing video released by the Islamic State actually shows the Oct. 4 ambush in Niger that killed four soldiers, and a DoD spokesman warned reporters that they would be helping ISIS if they even reported on its very existence. A quick sampling of media that have reported on it: The New York Times, Fox News, and the BBC.

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