The US is deploying up to 300 military personnel to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in Cameroon to help African troops fight the terrorist group Boko Haram, President Obama said in an Oct. 14 letter to Congress. The initial group of 90 troops began deploying Oct. 12 to the country following an agreement with the government of Cameroon. “These forces are equipped with weapons for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security, and they will remain in Cameroon until their support is no longer needed,” Obama wrote in the letter. The deployment to an undisclosed “expeditionary contingency support location” will be temporary, Defense Department spokeswoman Army Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza told Air Force Magazine. The ISR flights will help A?frican partners secure their borders and the information collected from the unarmed remotely piloted aircraft will support counter-extremist operations. The move comes as Boko Haram steps up suicide attacks in Cameroon and other countries across the region, including multiple bombings over the weekend that killed 45 in Chad and Cameroon, reported the Associated Press. The letter doesn’t specify the service breakdown of the troops being deployed.
The Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness revised the Defense Department’s COVID-19 guidelines. The new rules clarify what’s meant by being “up to date” on vaccinations and when personnel must wear masks in vehicles, among other changes.