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12 to 30′ US soldiers to help fight Boko Haram

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James B. Linder, commander of Special Operations Command Africa, answers questions in Diffa, Niger, on March 8, 2014.

The United States (US) has offered to send a special operations mission to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram, the US Africa Command (USAFRICOM) said on Friday. 

Image: James B. Linder, commander of Special Operations Command Africa, answers questions in Diffa, Niger, on March 8, 2014.

In a statement by USAFRICOM, the US government expressed its readiness to work alongside the Nigerian army. 

“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.

 According to Reuters, USAFRICOM said the proposals envisaged a “platoon-sized” team, typically meaning a group of between 12-30 troops. 

The proposals were also said to be pending approval from various governments departments and military officials. 

This news is coming a day after Tukur Buratai, Nigeria’s chief of army staff, said  troops had defeated the notorious Boko Haram sect responsible for kidnapping over 200 girls in April 2014. 

The New York Times earlier reported that the advisers would be based in Maiduguri, the most affected city in the northeast. 

The US has been seen to be expanding its support for African countries over the past few months and has plans to enter a new security deal with Senegal. 

It has also been reported to have increased the number of elite special operations forces in Africa to about 1,200. 

Jennifer Cooke, Africa programme director at the centre for strategic and international studies, told the house foreign affairs committee that there is an urgent need to tackle Boko Haram.

“There is an urgent need to prevent Boko Haram from regenerating and possibly coming back more virulent, destructive, and globally connected than before,” she said. 

Ed Royce, chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed the proposals, adding that the US “can provide the high-level guidance that is crucially missing in the fight against Boko Haram”. 

The world’s most powerful country had said in October 2015 that it was sending 300 US military personnel to Cameroon to operate surveillance drones.

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