U.S. Sends Forces To Chad To Hunt For Nigerian Girls
President Obama announced that "approximately 80" armed forces personnel would be sent to help operate surveillance aircraft over Nigeria.By Christian Bryant | May 21, 2014
President Obama said Wednesday he has deployed "approximately 80" American armed forces personnel to Chad, a country neighboring Nigeria, to help locate the more than 200 Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped last month. (Via The White House)
Some of those armed forces will fly a predator drone into a part of Nigeria where the girls are believed to be held. CBS reports the newer drone will be an addition to longer-distance surveillance aircraft already in use in the area.
The personnel will reportedly include 40 people to operate the Predator drone and another 40 for security. But the Pentagon's press secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby, told CNN this is not a boots-on-the-ground operation.
"These are not combat infantry troops that we put into Chad. These are folks that are there to support the reconnaissance mission."
According to The New York Times, the U.S. has been flying surveillance aircraft over northeastern Nigeria for the past 10 days looking for the girls and their captors, the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram.
The Times reports, "The deployment to Chad augments a team of about 30 specialists from the State Department, the F.B.I. and the Pentagon who have been sent to Nigeria to advise officials there. About half are military personnel with medical, intelligence, counterterrorism and communications skills."
But even with those reinforcements, locating and rescuing the girls is not an easy task. According to The Washington Post, Kirby told reporters the area is "roughly the size of West Virginia, and it’s dense forest jungle." And by now, the girls could've been spread out over a wider area, according to U.S. officials.
President Obama's announcement comes during a violent time in parts of Nigeria, as Boko Haram is believed to have carried out twin bombings in the city of Jos and assaults on three villages. So far, the bombings have killed 118 people, and that number is expected to rise. (Via BBC)
President Obama said in his statement the additional forces will remain in Chad until their their help in finding the kidnapped schoolgirls is no longer needed.