U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday he is sending up to 300 troops to Cameroon to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in the region.
The deployment of about 90 U.S. Armed Forces personnel began Monday and the total number is anticipated to be up to about 300, Obama said in a letter to Congress.
These forces are armed for their own protection and security, and will remain in Cameroon until their support is “no longer needed,” Obama said.
At Wednesday’s press briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the deployment “will be part of a broader regional effort to stop the spread of Boko Haram and other violent extremist organizations in West Africa.”
Boko Haram, a nickname meaning “Western education is forbidden,” is an Islamic militant organization operating in northeastern Nigeria, Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon. The group was designated as a foreign terrorism organization by the U.S. in 2013.
Earnest said the troops deployed to Cameroon will not be “in a combat role,” but will provide force protection to allow airborne intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance operations to commence.
The spokesman added that the deployment is not in response to a “triggering” event, but part of an effort to continue to increase American support to the region in the fight against Boko Haram.