The US decision to help France with its military campaign comes in light of the growing threat posed by two extremist Islamist groups in northern Mali, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday. Here's what the US is contributing.
The United States acknowledged this week that it is providing military assistance to French forces attacking Islamist strongholds in two African nations.
That assistance, Pentagon officials stress, is limited – and a clear signal of an evolving, post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan strategy for the US armed forces.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday, while en route to meetings in Europe, that the decision “to try to help” France in its military campaign came in light of the growing extremist threat posed by two groups in northern Mali, Ansar Dine and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
While these groups “might not have any immediate plans for attacks in the United States and Europe,” Mr. Panetta said, “that ultimately still remains their objective.”
Some defense analysts question how effective limited US aid can be – and has been – in combatting intricate networks of terrorist groups on the African continent.