The U.S. has sent approximately 80 troops to Chad to help the search for more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in April, the White House announced on Wednesday.
In a letter notifying Congress of the deployment, President Obama said, “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.”
The kidnapping of the schoolgirls from a boarding school in the remote town of Chibok has made headlines around the world, due in large part to the social media movement #BringBackOurGirls.
Lt. Col. Myles Caggins told the Associated Press that the 80 troops will help expand drone searches of the region and provide security for the the drone launch and recovery teams.
The Pentagon recently sent a team of experts to Nigeria to aid in search efforts. On Tuesday, a Defense Department spokesman told reporters that the search for the missing girls was like finding “a needle in the jungle.”
He said, “We’re talking about an area roughly the size of West Virginia, and it’s dense forest jungle.”
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