WASHINGTON, May 13, 2014 – The Defense Department began fixed-wing intelligence flights late yesterday to assist the Nigerian government in finding more than 200 kidnapped young women, Defense Department spokesman Army Col. Steven Warren said here today.
The extremist group Boko Haram abducted the young women from the Government Secondary Boarding School in Chibok, Nigeria, on the night of April 14.
“As we’ve said previously, we’ll bring all our assets to bear to assist the Nigerian government,” Warren said.
Warren also noted that Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez, commanding general of U.S. Africa Command, traveled to Nigeria yesterday.
“This trip was planned prior to Africom military personnel being sent to Nigeria to assist in the State Department-led interdisciplinary team,” Warren said. He met with Undersecretary of State Sara Sewall and U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria James Entwistle, along with senior Nigerian civilian and military officials, he added, “to discuss our important long-term partnership with Nigeria and ensured continued cooperation in advancing peace and security in the region.”
This announcement follows an announcement yesterday that 16 military personnel from Africom had joined the State Department-led interdisciplinary team at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria.
Warren said there are no plans to send additional U.S. military personnel, including Special Forces operators, and noted intelligence-sharing protocols are being developed with Nigerian officials.
“Any time we deal with intelligence, it’s exceptionally sensitive,” he said. “So we need to be sure that whoever we’re sharing this intelligence with will handle this intelligence material appropriately in accordance with all of our requirements for the protection of information.”
The colonel also said DOD is coordinating closely with allies, partners and other nations, primarily through the State Department.