The United States has deployed 80 American military personnel to Chad to assist in the search for more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram last month, President Barack Obama told Congress on Wednesday.
Obama wrote in a letter to House Speaker, John Boehner, and Senate President, Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy:
�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 letter was sent to comply with the War Power Resolution, which requires congressional notification within 48 hours of American troop commitments.
The deployment follows manned and unmanned surveillance flights launched by American personnel earlier this month, as well as the deployment of a team of U.S. military, law enforcement, and hostage negotiation advisers to the Nigerian capital of Abuja.
Obama has been under fire from some lawmakers on Capitol Hill for not more aggressively deploying American troops in the search for the missing girls. Arizona Sen. John McCain on May 16 had said:
�We should devote more of our national capabilities to help our Nigerian partners in locating the girls. And if we get action able intelligence about where they are being held, we should send U.S. Special Forces to rescue them �- with the approval and cooperation of the Nigerian government and security forces if possible, but without them if necessary.”
The girls’ plight gained international recognition amid a celebrity-backed Twitter hashtag campaign earlier this month, but public attention to their kidnapping has waned in recent days.
Nigeria’s Special Forces from the Army’s 7th Division had sighted and narrowed the search for the more than 250 abducted Chibok schoolgirls to three camps operated by the extremist Boko Haram sect north of Kukawa at the western corridors of the Lake Chad.
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