Washington: The US has decided to deploy some 300 American troops in Cameroon to help the African nation fight against Boko Haram and other violent extremist organisations in West Africa.
“These forces are equipped with weapons for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security, and they will remain in Cameroon until their support is no longer needed,” Obama said in a communique with the US Congress yesterday.
On October 12, approximately 90 US Armed Forces personnel began deploying to Cameroon with the consent of the Government of Cameroon, he said.
This deployment is in advance of the deployment of additional US Armed Forces personnel to Cameroon to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in the region, he said.
“The total number of US military personnel to be deployed to Cameroon is anticipated to be up to approximately 300,” Obama said.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the US military personnel that were deployed to Cameroon, are armed but they are armed for the purposes of force protection and providing for their own security.
“They will not be there in a combat role but rather to provide force protection to allow these airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations to commence,” he said in response to a question.
Earnest said the US military forces will partner with Cameroon’s ministry of defense, and it will be part of a broader regional effort to stop the spread of Boko Haram and other violent extremist organisations in West Africa.
The US has made other commitments to this regional effort, he said, adding, it has provided some assistance to the Nigerian government as they fight Boko Haram and other extremists inside of Nigeria.
“When the President travelled to Africa earlier this year, he talked about how important it was for the nations of Africa to pursue a regional approach to the threat that is posed by Boko Haram,” he said.
“And what the United States has done is try to offer some of the unique capabilities that we have in the United States military to assist that regional effort,” he added.