ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Jan 17, 2013 — The French government has asked for U.S. military assistance for their actions against an al-Qaida-affiliated group in Mali, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.
In an interview, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said the United States has not been asked to help with lethal operations, but rather, with enablers.
The requests are being addressed through the U.S. interagency process, the chairman said. The Defense and State departments and the National Security Council staff will assess the requests, “and we will probably provide what we can,” he said.
Dempsey called the French mission in Mali important. “Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is a threat not only to the country of Mali, but the region, and if … left unaddressed, could in fact become a global threat,” the general said.
The first thing the French asked for was planning assistance, a request that shows the close relationship the United States maintains with its French allies, Dempsey said.
“They know we’ve done work against that kind of threat for 10 years,” he explained, “and they’ve asked our help.” The planners already have begun working with their French allies, he added.
The French also have asked for logistics assistance, Dempsey said. Mali is a huge country with a small population. Distances in the country are great, and infrastructure is lacking.