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Chibok Girls: Nigerian Govt. Rejects U.S Offer To Use Drones

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Though U.S. officials have offered to do everything possible to aid in the

search for more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls, the Nigerian government

has yet to accept drone flights over its restive northeast corner, U.S.

officials say.
The reason why the Nigerian government has not requested the remotely

piloted U.S. surveillance drones is not clear.
Frustration over the inaction was evident at a Pentagon briefing Friday.

“There are no active discussions” with the Nigerian government about the

use of “unmanned aerial surveillance,” or drones, said Rear Adm. John

In fact, Kirby said, the relatively small “coordination team” of U.S.

military, law enforcement FBI and intelligence officials is the only offer

of assistance that the Nigerian government has accepted. Kirby declined to

say what else may have been offered and rejected by the Nigerians, saying

only, “We urge them (Nigerians) to use all resources at their disposal.”

Privately, a U.S. official familiar with U.S. intelligence options in the

region, confirmed Kirby's statement to NBC News that no drones have flown

in pursuit of the missing girls. “No, not yet,” said the official ,

speaking on condition of anonymity. “No permission, no flights.”

The U.S. would have to get permission as well from neighboring countries

– Cameroon, Chad and possibly Congo – because the mission would also

almost certainly involve overflights there, where Boko Haram troops also

are active. “They cross those borders daily,” said one U.S. intelligence

Even without drones, experts and U.S. officials say, Washington has other

hi-tech spy technology that could help in the search.

Dr. Jeffrey T. Richelson, author of the forthcoming “U.S. Intelligence

Community,” a compendium of Washington's intelligence capabilities, said

the drone is the ideal platform for tracking Boko Haram and possibly

locating the girls, who were abducted on April 14 from a state-run

boarding school in Chibok.
“Drones have both the loitering capability and the stealth capability for

a mission like this,” said Richelson. “You can keep a location in constant

view rather than intermittent surveillance that you get with satellites.”

The U.S. has an agreement with the government of neighboring Niger to fly

drones out of Niamey airport — less than 1,000 miles west of the

kidnapping site. But intelligence sources say it's not clear whether any

drones are currently at the airport. One official noted it would take some

time to set up support operations in any case.
U.S. officials confirm that Predator drones have flown out of Niamey

previously for missions to track members of Al Qaeda in the Islamic

Maghreb, a terrorist group based in nearby Mali.
The U.S. also could fly longer-range Global Hawks or MQ-9s on missions

from as far away as the United Arab Emirates or England.