The U.S. has deployed a Predator drone team of 80 military personnel — mostly airmen — to Chad to help find nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped in neighboring Nigeria. This MQ-1 Predator flies over Southern California. (Tech. Sgt. Effrain Lopez/Air Force)
The U.S. has deployed a Predator drone team of 80 military personnel — mostly airmen — to Chad to help find nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped in neighboring Nigeria.
President Obama announced the deployment in a May 21 letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner and said the 80 troops will help operate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and surrounding areas. The troops will stay in Chad until their help is no longer needed, Obama said.
Army Lt. Col. Myles Caggins, a Defense Department spokesman, said that most, if not all, of the 80 troops are airmen.
It is unclear how many Predator aircraft are being deployed to Chad.
The schoolgirls were kidnapped by a militant group called Boko Haram last month, in a case that drew outrage worldwide.
The U.S. has slowly been ramping up its involvement in the hunt for the girls. Earlier this month, U.S. Army Africa began preparing to deploy a dozen soldiers and special operations forces to Nigeria to help train a newly-formed Nigerian battalion on how to fight Boko Haram.
Eight U.S. military personnel also arrived in the Nigerian capital of Abuja earlier this month to assess what help or resources that government needed to help find the kidnapped girls.