US armed forces have been deployed to Cameroon announced by US President Barack Obama.
The US has recognised the increased threat its allies and interests in the region face following Boko Haram’s absorption into Islamic State. The jihadist group has shown itself resilient in the face of military operations by the combined armies of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.
Little has been seen or heard of the African Union-backed Multinational Joint Task Force mandated to spearhead the counter-insurgency mission. Hence support from the US – and France – is crucial at this time.
Last year, US surveillance planes and personnel were deployed in north-east Nigeria after the kidnap of more than 200 schoolgirls who are still missing. This time, away from the global scrutiny the Chibok abductions brought, other US soldiers are deployed elsewhere in the region with similar roles.
It’s still early days but this deployment could revamp the gathering of intelligence, and maybe prove a game changer in finding the core Boko Haram leaders who are keeping the jihadist campaign active.
The force, which will be 300 strong, will conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in the region.
Cameroon and Chad have been targeted by the Islamist militants from northern Nigeria.
Mr Obama said the forces would remain in Cameroon until “no longer needed”.