U.S. deploys troops to Africa

Story highlights

  • In a letter to Congress, Obama said The United States deployed approximately 90 troops to Cameroon Monday
  • The U.S has deployed military resources there as well in the last year to assist the Nigerian government in their efforts against the extremist group Boko Haram

Washington (CNN)The United States deployed approximately 90 troops to Cameroon Monday as part of an effort to assist Cameroon and other regional governments in their efforts to battle extremist groups in the region.

President Barack Obama sent a letter to Congress Wednesday informing lawmakers of the move.
In the letter, sent under the War Powers Resolution, Obama said the total number of U.S. military personnel would eventually rise to approximately 300, and would provide airborne intelligence, surveillance and other reconnaissance operations at the request and invitation of the Cameroonian government.
    "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," he wrote.
    Cameroon, along with other countries in West Africa have been locked in battle with Boko Haram, a terror group based in northern Nigeria that has been waging a years-long campaign of terror aimed at instituting its extreme version of Sharia law.
    Militants from the group killed about 30 people and wounded 145 others in attacks on a market and infirmary in northern Cameroon last month, just the latest of many attacks Boko Haram has launched over the years in Cameroon, Chad and other countries that border Nigeria.
    Thousands of people have been kidnapped or killed by Boko Haram inside Nigeria, and the United States has deployed military resources there as well in the last year to assist the Nigerian government in their efforts against the extremist group.
    Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza said the forces were deploying at the invitation of the government of Cameroon, and would coordinate their actions with the Cameroonian military.
    "The combined activities conducted at this location are designed to better enhance the capability and capacity of our partners in the Cameroon defense forces to promote stability and security within Cameroon and the surrounding region," Baldanza said.
    The surveillance flights flown by the United States are meant to help Cameroon and other partner governments in the region to better secure their borders from attack by Boko Haram and other extremist groups in the region according to Pentagon officials. Most of the surveillance flights provided by the United States would be conducted by "unarmed remotely piloted aircraft," Baldanza said.
    In a briefing with reporters on Wednesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the deployment announcement was not made due to a change in any threat assessment, but rather to assist in the regional struggle against terror groups operating there.
    "This is obviously a unique capacity that the United States has to bring to bear to this effort and it will be used in support of the ongoing regional counter-extremist efforts that are ongoing there," Earnest said.