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Obama’s ‘troops’ in Chad are actually just drone workers

BringBackOurGirlsNigeria1By Brian Ries From Mashable

President Obama on Wednesday deployed about 80 Armed Forces personnel to Chad to help find the Nigerian schoolgirls who have been missing since April.

However, the personnel, whose deployment Obama announced in a “War Powers Notification” letter that he sent to Speaker of the House John Boehner and the president pro tempore of the Senate Patrick Leahy, are not “boots on the ground.” Their main priority is to work on drones — not walk through a forest to search for the missing girls.

“The military personnel sent to Chad are simply there to launch, recover, and maintain unmanned aerial systems; that’s their bailiwick, Lt. Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a Defense Department spokesman, tells Mashable. “I assure you their passion is simply ensuring the aircraft can spend maximum time searching for the abducted schoolgirls; these troops will remain at an airstrip in Chad.”

Missing-Girls-Mothers-NigeraThe news came as ABC reported that the U.S. had moved “additional unarmed Predator aircraft” into the country to fly longer surveillance missions over NE Nigeria.

Chad, which borders Nigeria’s east, provides easy access from the skies to the region where officials suspect the Islamic militant group Boko Haram is keeping nearly 300 kidnapped girls.

Earlier this month, the U.S. sent an interdisciplinary team to Abuja, Nigeria to aid in the search. At the time, a Pentagon spokesperson told Mashable that “military personnel will not physically search for the girls or Boko Haram” in Nigeria — and Wednesday’s announcement continues to fit that statement.

Some have called for Obama to send actual troops into Nigeria, including Senator John McCain in a May 13 interview with The Daily Beast, who said he’d deploy the troops “in a New York minute.”

“If we rescued these young girls, it would be the high point of the [President Obama’s] popularity,” McCain said.

Women attend a sit down rally calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped school girls of the Chibok secondary school, in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday, May 15, 2014.


Nigeria-Schoolgirls-EscapedThe girls have been missing since April 15 when militants stormed their school in the northern Nigerian city of Chibok and kidnapped them at gunpoint. Some of them escaped.

Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau had previously claimed that the girls have converted to Islam, and they will not be released until some of the group’s prisoners in Nigeria are freed in return.

A global effort is now underway to find the girls and bring them home.

THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary For Immediate Release May 21, 2014 TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE SENATE May 21, 2014 Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:) Approximately 80 U.S. Armed Forces personnel have deployed to Chad as part of the U.S. efforts to locate and support the safe return of over 200 schoolgirls who are reported to have been kidnapped in Nigeria. These personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area. The force will remain in Chad until its support in resolving the kidnapping situation is no longer required. This action has been directed in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in these actions. Sincerely, BARACK OBAMA


Some of the mothers of the kidnapped schoolgirls sit in Chibok, Nigeria on May 18, 2014. IMAGE: SUNDAY ALAMBA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Women attend a sit down rally calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped school girls of the Chibok secondary school, in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday, May 15, 2014. IMAGE: SUNDAY ALAMBA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Joy Bishara, left, and Hadiza Fali, escaped being kidnapped by Islamist extremists by jumping off a truck, pose in Chibok, Nigeria. IMAGE: SUNDAY ALAMBA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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