ABUJA, Nigeria, May 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Defense has directed 16 military personnel from Africa Command to join the search for the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls, the Pentagon announced Monday.
Army Col. Steve Warren said that the 16 military personnel includes communications, logistics, civil affairs, operations, and intelligence experts. "Their role is to assess the situation, advise and assist the Nigerian government in their efforts to respond to this crisis situation, and find the young women kidnapped by Boko Haram."
The 16 military personnel from AFRICOM augment an existing U.S. military presence at U.S. Embassy Abuja and U.S. Consulate Lagos. "We have a total of 50 or 60 military personnel assigned to the embassy there as part of the country team," Warren added. The 16 additional military personnel have been attached to an "interdisciplinary" search team.
The Pentagon, Warren said, has no plans to deploy additional personnel to Nigeria.
More than 230 girls were abducted from their school on April 15 by Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Parents and families of the missing have criticized the Nigerian government for failing to dedicate sufficient resources to find the missing girls. The U.S. offered to assist Nigeria's search efforts, an offer that was finally accepted by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on May 6.