US to transport African troops for Mali war
The US will provide air transportation for African troops helping battle an Islamist insurgency in northern Mali, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Tuesday.
"We are supporting the international effort by providing airlift to countries in the region, to include Chad and Togo," he told journalists, adding that the flights haven't started yet.
Togo had pledged more than 700 soldiers to the international force in Mali under the supervision of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS. Chad, which is not a part of ECOWAS, has promised to send 2,000 soldiers to Mali.
But the deployment of the African soldiers has been slowed by financial and logistical concerns.
With regard to its support of French troops, the Pentagon has conducted 17 flights with C-17 aircraft carrying more than "391 tonnes of equipment and nearly 500 passengers" from France to Bamako, Little said.
In addition to its help with equipment and intelligence, the US has, after two weeks of internal deliberations, started providing refueling support to French air operations, making available three KC-135 aircraft.
A first refueling mission "provided about 33,000 pounds of jet fuel to French fighter aircraft," he said.
On January 11, France launched a military intervention to help Mali and other African forces oust Islamists controlling the northern parts of the country.