Per the War Powers Resolution, President Obama just notified congressional leaders that U.S. forces have been sent to Chad.
Reports from border villagers soon after more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok by Boko Haram indicated that some may have been ferried across Lake Chad or taken to Chad or Cameroon via land routes.
The administration recently received permission from Nigeria to conduct flyover operations in an effort to find the girls, but only said it was in communication with Cameroon and Chad.
“Approximately 80 U.S. Armed Forces personnel have deployed to Chad as part of the U.S. efforts to locate and support the safe return of over 200 schoolgirls who are reported to have been kidnapped in Nigeria,” said the letter from Obama submitted to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate President Pro Tempore Pat Leahy (D-Vt.).
“These personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area,” Obama continued. “The force will remain in Chad until its support in resolving the kidnapping situation is no longer required.”
“This action has been directed in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.
I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in these actions.”
At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Boko Haram this morning, Undersecretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewell made a brief reference to working with Nigeria’s neighbors.
“For our part, DOD and the Department of State are working closely together on a proposal to enhance border security along Nigeria’s common borders with Chad, Niger and Cameroon, in support of a regional response to counter the threat posed by Boko Haram,” Sewell said. “The concept is to build border security capacity and promote better cooperation and communication among the security forces of each country, with the aim of reducing Boko Haram’s operational space and safe havens.”
UPDATE: Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said he “welcomes” this deployment. “These troops will be vital in generating actionable intelligence for the search. This announcement on increased surveillance assets is a step in the right direction,” Royce said in a statement. “But we can do more. U.S. security personnel should be in Nigeria advising and assisting those engaged in the rescue efforts; anything less would be insufficient in responding to the pressing threat that Boko Haram poses to the region and U.S. interests.”