The United States deployed 80 members of its armed forces to Chad to help in the search for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls, the White House said Wednesday.
“These personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area,” it said in a letter.
“The force will remain in Chad until its support in resolving the kidnapping situation is no longer required.”
President Barack Obama informed the House speaker and the president of the Senate of the move.
The forces will be involved in maintaining aircraft and analyzing data, but because they are armed, the President is required by law to inform the speaker of the House, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
The troops are being deployed to Chad because it is a good location for the operation and because the United Stated has a good relationship with its government.
The deployment is not based on any new intelligence leads, a senior administration official said.
“The truth is, we don’t know exactly where they are,” Kirby said. “We still believe that they’ve broken up into small groups and dispersed.”
A U.S. Predator drone will now be aiding in the search for the girls, a Pentagon official told CNN. Half of the new group of U.S. troops will be operating the launch and recovery of the unarmed drone on its missions, and half of them will be providing security on the ground in Chad.