WASHINGTON — Eighty U.S. troops have deployed to Chad to help find more than 200 girls who were kidnapped by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram, the White House said in a letter to lawmakers Wednesday.
The girls were abducted from their school in Nigeria last month, and officials in the U.S. and Nigeria fear that the militants might kill their captives or sell them into slavery.
President Barack Obama said the troops would support the operation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft over northeastern Nigeria, which shares a portion of its border with Chad. Obama said the personnel would remain there indefinitely until their assistance is no longer needed. He did not specify to which service or units the troops are attached.
“This action has been directed in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests,” Obama wrote.
The Pentagon had already announced that American aircraft, including unarmed drones, were flying over Nigeria to help locate the missing girls and gather intelligence for the Nigerian forces involved in the search. However, the Defense Department would not identify the country from where the aircraft were operating.
DOD officials have said they have no intention of deploying special operations forces to Nigeria to conduct rescue operations.