Friday, 26 February 2016

U.S. Mulls Special Ops Mission To Help Fight Nigeria's Boko Haram

In recent months, the United States has been expanding its support for African governments as they fight a growing Islamist insurgency in North and West Africa. It is near a new security deal with Senegal, and has increased the number of elite special operations forces in Africa to about 1,200.

"At the request of the Nigerian government, the SOCAFRICA (Special Operations Command Africa) component of USAFRICOM conducted a preliminary assessment regarding the feasibility of resuming a limited advise-and-assist mission alongside select Nigerian units," USAFRICOM said in a statement.

The statement added that the proposals envisaged a "platoon-sized" team, typically meaning a group of between 12-30 troops. The proposals are pending approval from various government departments and military officials.

Boko Haram gained global notoriety for kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria in 2014 and is thought to have killed over 15,000 people, making it the most lethal militant group in the world by some estimates.

"There is an urgent need to prevent Boko Haram from regenerating and possibly coming back more virulent, destructive, and globally connected than before," Jennifer Cooke, Africa Program Director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week.