The Troubles Tracking Abducted Girls in Boko Haram's Nigerian Forest


The Pentagon announced Wednesday it’s sending 10 servicemen to Nigeria as part of a coordination team to assist the local government in the search. The troops will be part of a larger American contingent that includes officials from the State Department, Justice Department and FBI. But right now the U.S. is in a support role and is not planning any broader military action.

“At this time, we are not considering a U.S. operation to rescue the girls,” Pentagon spokesperson Col. Steve Warren told reporters.

READ MORE: US Sending Small Military Team to Nigeria to Help Plan Search for Girls Held by Militants

Ham said that the U.S. could really help with what he called “technical capabilities of surveillance, of signals intelligence.”

American and Nigerian sources on the ground said though the girls may be dispersed, they could still be found with help from U.S. surveillance platforms.

The former U.S. top diplomat on Africa, Johnnie Carson, told reporters on the CFR call today that the U.S. could possibly provide some aerial satellite and imagery that of the area to help with the search.

“We have satellites that pass over this region they can in fact be effective and also helping to track and also airplanes that can do some very useful work,” said Carson.

In addition to satellites, the U.S. has several drone bases on the continent that could provide unmanned aircraft for the search. A civilian involved in the drone program told ABC News the unmanned systems are capable of incredible feats when it comes to searching for individuals or groups over vast expanses, especially when the high-tech systems don’t have to contend with a lot of cover – as is a problem in dense jungle elsewhere in Africa.

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Regardless, the issue may not end up being U.S. capability, but the Nigerians willingness to let America help.

“In the past the Nigerians have shown a reluctance to accept not only our assistance but also our analytic advice,” Carson said.

Ham said that the thought even though the search for the girls seems blight, no one should give up hope.

“What's the likelihood that all of the girls will be rescued? It is pretty remote. But if you get one, that's one. And if you get more than that, then that's good,” he said.

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