DOD sends UAV, 80 Airmen to help Nigerian search

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — TheDefenseDepartment’sadditionofanunmannedaerialvehicleand 80 Air Forcetroops to U.S.effortssupporting Nigeria’ssearchforover 200 missingschoolgirls hasturnedthemissionintoanairoperation,Army Col.SteveWarren,the directorofPentagonPressOperations,saidMay 22.The UAV system and Air Force personnel were deployed not to Nigeria but to neighboring Chad under an agreement with the Chadian government, Warren said, because basing the air assets there, closer to the search area, allows the aircraft to spend more time overhead.

The Nigerian government has requested such assistance and, Warren said, “This is the third system that we’ve put into Chad in addition to (systems that have) been providing (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) up until yesterday.”


The coordinated air operation is using a mix of manned and unmanned assets as the situation dictates, he added.

“I don’t know right now of any plans to send additional ISR assets, and all 80 Air Force personnel are not (yet) on the ground,” Warren said, adding that there are no plans now for a U.S. military operation on the ground in Nigeria.

It’s been five weeks since members of the terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped the girls from the Government Secondary boarding school in the town of Chibok.

Boko Haram is a phrase in a language spoken in inland West Africa, according to academic linguistic texts, that translates figuratively to “Western education is a sin.”

The Airmen are joining 16 military personnel from U.S. Africa Command who earlier this month joined an interdisciplinary team led by the State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria.

On May 21, as required by the War Powers Resolution, President Barack Obama notified Congress of the deployment of Air Force personnel to Chad in a letter to the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate.

“These personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area,” Obama said in the letter.

“The force will remain in Chad until its support in resolving the kidnapping situation is no longer required,” he added.

“The team in Chad is there in support of one of our ISR assets — an unarmed, unmanned aerial vehicle that is helping support the search for the students,” Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Myles B. Caggins III told American Forces Press Service.

“The majority of the Air Force personnel are dedicated to the launch, recovery, and maintenance of the aircraft,” Caggins added. “They have a small security detachment to round-out the team.”

They are not infantry troops and will not conduct ground operations, he said.

“The weapons they deployed with are strictly for self-defense and local security at the airfield,” Caggins added.

ISR is one of the key DOD contributions to the search, he noted, and U.S. operations are around-the-clock, including time for aircraft maintenance and recovery.

The missions will take place over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area, Caggins said.

“Flying these aircraft from Chad significantly increases search time over potential Boko Haram camps in Nigeria and surrounding countries,” the DOD spokesman said, adding, “We’re thankful for cooperation from the government of Chad and our international partners for this basing agreement.”

On May 21, during a hearing on Boko Haram before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Amanda J. Dory said DOD officials are taking action to help the Nigerian government find the students and address the growing threat posed by Boko Haram.

Initial DOD efforts involve working with Nigerian security personnel to identify gaps and shortfalls and provide requested expertise and information, including ISR support, she told the panel.

“We’re also working closely with the U.K., France and other international partners in Abuja to coordinate multilateral actions,” Dory said.

“Our intent is to support Nigerian-led efforts to safely recover the girls,” she added, “and help catalyze greater efforts to secure the population of Nigeria from the menace of Boko Haram.”

Ifsustainedsecurity is to beachieved,Dorysaid,thegovernmentof Nigeriamustdevelopandimplementimmediateand long-term solutions toproblemscreatedbytheextremistgroup.The Boko Haram threat has existed in its current form since 2009 but over the past several years has extended its geographic reach and increased the sophistication and lethality of its attacks, she explained.

“Along with other U.S. departments and agencies, DOD has been engaging for some time with the government of Nigeria to help build its capacity to respond,” the deputy assistant secretary said.

Beginning in 2011, DOD used the State Department-led U.S.-Nigeria Bi-National Commission as a main forum to enhance counterinsurgency efforts and develop a civilian-centered approach to security, Dory said.

DOD supports creating a counter-IED and civil military operations capacity in the Nigerian army, she added, and it has supported creating a national-level intelligence-fusion capability to promote better information-sharing among Nigerian national-security entities.

In late April, DOD began working with Nigeria’s newly created counterterrorism-focused ranger battalion.

In addition, DOD and the State Department are working closely to enhance border security along Nigeria’s borders with Chad, Niger and Cameroon, to counter the Boko Haram threat, Dory told the panel.

The idea, she said, is to build border security capacity and promote better cooperation and communication among each country’s security force to reduce the extremist group’s operational space and safe havens.

In the meantime, the search for the students in Nigeria is ongoing, Caggins added, and the Nigerians are in the lead.

DOD, he said, continues to lend its unique assets and capabilities to help in the search.

“We’ll continue to evaluate the resources we might bring to bear in support of the effort in close consultation with the Nigerian government,” Caggins said.

Source: USAF 5/22/14


DARPA’s Information Innovation Office (I2O) today hosted DARPA Demo Day 2014 to highlight DARPA’s ongoing contributions to preserving and expanding IT superiority for national security. Taking up the entire central courtyard of the Pentagon, the all-day event showcased more than 100 demonstrations that described I2O program managers’ progress toward making game-changing advances in cybersecurity, networked warfighter systems, language translation and decision support.

Information technology (IT) is a key enabler for the Defense Department (DoD) and has been a focus area for DARPA since its founding in 1958. DARPA’s contributions to modern IT are well-known—perhaps most notably, DARPA is generally credited with developing and prototyping the technology for what is now known as the Internet. But while the DoD currently enjoys IT superiority, that superiority cannot be taken for granted.

Today at the Pentagon, DARPA’s Information Innovation Office (I2O) hosted DARPA Demo Day 2014 to highlight DARPA’s ongoing contributions to preserving and expanding IT superiority. The all-day event showcased the wide array of DARPA projects designed to change—not incrementally, but quickly and profoundly—how the nation addresses growing national security challenges posed by the Information Revolution and by the increasing global availability of sophisticated information technologies.

In more than 100 demonstrations viewed by DoD officials, defense contractors and invited public-sector innovators, DARPA program managers and project principals described their progress toward making game-changing advances in areas such as cybersecurity, networked warfighter systems, language translation and decision support. The event took up the entire Pentagon Center Courtyard, making it the largest single event ever to take place at the Pentagon.

Taken together, the displays pointed to a future in which networks would be increasingly resilient to natural and human-launched threats and in which lightning-fast detection of emergent, information-related irregularities—including potential threats—would inform equally fast correctives and countermeasures. Advanced data analysis, automation and fusion technologies would enable the timely extraction of actionable, previously inaccessible insights from mountains of raw information, and enable the sharing of those insights through cutting-edge collaboration, data visualization and user interface technologies.  

“The Information Revolution has been a huge boon to society, but our growing dependence on information networks also means that information is today’s tactical and strategic high ground, increasingly targeted by adversaries from everyday criminals to networked terrorists who would do our nation mortal harm,” said I2O Director Dan Kaufman. “I2O’s mission is to ensure the safety and reliability of essential information technologies, against the challenges we face today and also against those we can imagine well into the future. We help make the tools of the Information Revolution more powerful and useful, not just for those who ensure our security but also for the people and nation they protect.”

The event highlighted 29 programs in four categories: Cyber (approaches to maintaining the safety and security of IT systems); Big Data (tools to facilitate the use of information at scale); Language (including translation technologies to help warfighters communicate more effectively in foreign-language environments); and Warfighter Apps (other initiatives of great interest to DoD, such as the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program in the agency’s new Biological Technologies Office).

Among the I2O programs on display were:

  • DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC): CGC, to be launched this summer, will be the first-ever tournament for testing fully automatic network defense systems. The competition’s goal is to vastly improve the speed, scale and effectiveness of IT security against escalating cyber threats.
  • High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS): HACMS seeks to protect networked, embedded IT systems from cyberattack by creating semi-automated systems that build software according to formal methods and check that the created code is secure and works as intended.
  • Big Mechanism: Big Mechanism aims to leapfrog state-of-the-art big-data analytics by developing automated technologies to help explain the causes and effects that drive complicated systems. The program plans to focus its initial efforts on research relating to cancer pathways.
  • Memex: Memex seeks to develop the next generation of search technologies and revolutionize the discovery, organization and presentation of public-domain search results. Initially, DARPA intends to develop Memex to address a key DoD mission: fighting human trafficking.
  • Broad Operational Language Translation (BOLT): BOLT seeks to create new techniques for automated translation and linguistic analysis that can be applied to informal text and speech common in online and in-person communication.

A full list of DARPA Demo Day 2014 programs with summaries is available here.

Associated images posted on and video posted may be reused according to the terms of the DARPA User Agreement, available here:

Source: DARPA 5/21/14