Airmen To Help Search for Missing Nigerian Schoolgirls

The Defense Department will deploy 80 airmen and one remotely piloted aircraft to Chad to help search for more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls, making the mission an official air operation, said Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren on Thursday. “The team in Chad is there in support of one of our ISR assets—an unarmed, unmanned aerial vehicle that is helping support the search for the students,” said Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Myles Caggins, in a May 22 Pentagon release. “The majority of the Air Force personnel are dedicated to the launch, recovery, and maintenance of the aircraft … They have a small security detachment to round-out the team.” Warren said the air operation consists of a mix of manned and unmanned assets, noting the RPA is the “third system” deployed to Chad to aid in the search. The Nigerian government requested US assistance in finding the girls, whom were kidnapped from a government secondary boarding school by the terrorist group Boko Haram nearly five weeks ago. President Barack Obama notified Congress, as required by the War Powers Resolution, of the deployment on May 21. “These [Air Force] personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area,” said Obama. They will join an additional 16 US military personnel from US Africa Command who were dispatched to Nigeria to aid in the search last month.