White House Releases Statement on French Raid Assistance

President Obama confirmed the involvement of US forces on Jan. 11 in the French military’s failed rescue of a French citizen held hostage in Somalia by the al Shabaab terrorist organization. “I directed US forces to support this rescue operation in furtherance of US national security interests,” wrote Obama in a notification letter to Congressional leadership on Jan. 13, citing his Constitutional authority to order such action. He said US forces “provided limited technical support” to the French forces, but “took no direct part” in the assault on the compound where the French military thought al Shabaab was holding the French citizen. US combat aircraft “briefly entered Somali airspace to support the rescue operation, if needed,” stated Obama. They “did not employ weapons” during it, he noted. In the past, US military forces have provided logistical, airlift, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to allies conducting operations in Africa, such as during NATO’s 2011 Libya intervention, where alliance members leaned heavily on Air Force assets for aerial refueling and ISR capability.