- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2014

The U.S. military does not plan to use high-tech unmanned aircraft to assist the Nigerian government as it attempts to recover hundreds of missing girls that were abducted by a militant Islamist group during a boarding school raid, a Pentagon official said.

During a briefing at the Pentagon, spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters that he was unaware of any offer by the United States to provide Nigeria with drones to find more than 200 girls kidnapped by members of Boko Haram last month.

“There’s no active discussion about the use of unmanned systems in the search,” he said.

Drones vary in size. Some are capable of flying at low altitudes with cameras or at high altitudes with sophisticated sensors. They are a powerful asset to many military operations.

Instead of providing technology to Nigeria, under the direction of State Department officials, the United States will provide a team of experts to assist the country’s government.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters during a briefing Thursday that, for the past several weeks, the department has been “closely engaged” with the Nigerian government through its embassy.

Now, the United States is working toward providing subject matter experts that will assist the Nigerian government with finding the girls, Ms. Psaki said.

That team will participate in an interagency coordination and assessment cell in Abuja, Nigeria, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said.

The interdisciplinary cell will be comprised of people from law enforcement, FBI and the U.S. military, Adm. Kirby said.

Together, they will work out of the embassy and move as quickly as possible to recover the women, he said.

“In any hostage situation, time is a premium, and there’s no question that we’re racing against the clock here,” Adm. Kirby said.

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