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09 May 14. In a quiet escalation of its mission, US Army’s Africa is preparing to send soldiers and special operations forces to Nigeria to train that nation’s forces for combat operations, a first for the command that traditionally has trained local forces for only peacekeeping missions. A story posted on the US Army’s official website on Friday said the team will arrive in Nigeria to train a newly formed 650-man Ranger battalion by the end of the month with an eye toward fighting the Boko Haram militant group. “It is not peacekeeping, it is every bit of what we call decisive action, meaning those soldiers will go in harm’s way to conduct counterinsurgency operations in their country to defeat a known threat,” said Col. John Ruffing, chief of US Army Africa’s Security Cooperation Division. The small American team, made up of 12 active duty, National Guard and special operators, will deploy for 35 days. The Nigerians requested the training after witnessing training at the US Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and will spend $400,000 on the US deployment. The Army release came on the same day that a small group of eight US military personnel arrived in the Nigerian capital of Abuja to assess what additional help or resources the government may need in tracking down the almost 300 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram last month. Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday that “their principal job is to advise and assist Nigerian authorities while ‘providing gap analysis’ for any additional help or resources they may need to conduct the mission. There is no timeline on when the team will return to the US, but it will brief American officials on its recommendations for further assistance upon return. Asked about the use of US drones or intelligence assets, Kirby said “we’re not going to do anything additional that isn’t acceptable to the Nigerian government,” and stressed that “this is not a military-led operation, we’re part of interdisciplinary team, working the issue.” In a statement released on Friday, Amnesty International charged that the Nigerian military knew of the Boko Haram attack on the girls’ school in the town of Chibok on April 15 but was unable to respond in time. That Nigerian security failed to act “amounts to a gross dereliction of Nigeria’s duty to protect civilians, who remain sitting ducks for such attacks,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa director for research and advocacy. A small group of 17 soldiers and police officers in Chibok tried to fight off the Boko Haram fighters but were outgunned and overpowered, according to Amnesty’s reporting. At least 2,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Nigeria this year. (Source: Defense News)

10 May 14. Officials from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear watchdog disclosed on Friday that they had demanded more information from Iranian officials regarding tests on detonators – specifically, on Exploding Bridge Wire (EBW) detonators – suspected of having been conducted with the aim of creating nuclear warheads, the latest development in an emerging controversy over Tehran’s willingness to disclose a range of widely suspected “possible military dimensions” (PMD). The Islamic republic is obligated to provide transparency into PMD-related activities by United Nations Security Council resolution 1929, and non-compliance with those obligations has been cited by U.S. lawmakers as a central justification for maintaining pressure on Tehran. President Barack Obama had as early as 2009 declared that Iran would have to “come clean” in disclosing all past nuclear activities, language that was explicitly echoed by Secretary of State John Kerry on the eve of announcing the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA), under which Iran received sanctions relief in exchange for slowing down its nuclear progress. The JPA however did not include any requirement that Iran meet its PMD obligati

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