WASHINGTON, May 12, 2014 - A total of 16 military personnel from U.S. Africa Command have joined the interdisciplinary team led by the State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, to help in finding hundreds of kidnapped girls, a Pentagon spokesman said today.
Members of the extremist group Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls from the Government Secondary boarding school in the town of Chibok on the night of April 14. Several countries, including the United States, have offered help.
On May 6, President Barack Obama said on NBC's "Today" program that the immediate priority is finding the girls, and then the world must address the broader problem of organizations like Boko Haram that "can cause such havoc in people's day-to-day lives."
At the Pentagon today, Army Col. Steve Warren said the group of 16 military personnel includes experts in communications, logistics, civil affairs, operations and intelligence.
"Their role is to assess the situation, advise and assist the Nigerian government in their efforts to respond to this crisis situation, and find the young women kidnapped by Boko Haram," the colonel added.
A majority of the group members were staff officers and personnel from the embassy's Office of Security Cooperation, whose mission is to enhance the long-term bilateral defense relationship between Nigeria and the United States. The rest came into the country from outside Africa, he said.
The Office of Security Cooperation in Nigeria is the largest in Africa, Warren said.
"We have a total of 50 or 60 military personnel assigned to the embassy there as part of the country team," the colonel added, and 16 now are devoted to the interdisciplinary team to find the girls.
The Defense Department has no plans at this point, he said, to put more personnel into the country.
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