President Barack Obama told Congress on Oct. 14 that he will deploy 300 troops to Cameroon to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance efforts against Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram.
According to a letter released by the White House, 90 troops have already been deployed on Oct. 12, armed for self-defense, The Guardian reports.
The deployment was “part of the counter Boko Haram effort,” a senior administration official told AFP.
The troops will be armed for their protection and security but will not engage in combat.
A drone base will be set up in Cameroon, on the border of Nigeria, to track Boko Haram fighters, according to The Washington Post. There, using a small fleet of unarmed Predator drones, they will conduct surveillance across the region, the Defense Department said.
The troops will be stationed in Cameroon until they are no longer needed.
“It will be part of a broader regional effort to stop the spread of Boko Haram and other violent extremist organizations in West Africa,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters, according to The Washington Post.
Boko Haram has terrorized Nigeria for over a decade and recently moved into Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, with its extremist acts of violence, including bombings, beheadings, and kidnappings. An estimated 20,000 people have died from the terrorist organization's attacks.
Earlier this year, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
“We obviously take the threat, the terror threat from Boko Haram in Africa, seriously,” Earnest said.
The deployment marks the most direct involvement by the U.S. against Boko Haram to date.