The White House announced Wednesday that the United States has deployed 80 troops to Chad to aid in the search for the schoolgirls abducted in Nigeria by Islamist militant group Boko Haram; the girls have now been missing for more than a month.
"These personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area," the White House said in a statement alerting Congress of the action. "The force will remain in Chad until its support in resolving the kidnapping situation is no longer required."
The troops are mostly Air Force personnel, and will surveil the area and operate drones; they will not participate in ground searches. "These are not combat infantry troops that we put into Chad," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told CNN. "These are folks that are there to support the reconnaissance mission."
"The truth is, we don't know exactly where they are," Kirby continued. "We still believe that they've broken up into small groups and dispersed."
But the troops were deployed to Chad because, “Locating this force in Chad allows us to spend more time flying over the search area,” according to Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Myles B. Caggins III.