Today the US Department of Defense issued a news release announcing plans to support French and African Union forces in Central African Republic.
Here is the text of the release:
Assistant Press Secretary Carl Woog provided the following statement:
“Last evening in Kabul, Secretary Hagel spoke with French Minister of Defense Yves Le Drian about the security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), where, under the authority of a UN Security Council Resolution, French forces are assisting the African Union-led international support mission to provide humanitarian assistance and establish an environment that supports a political transition to a democratically elected government.
“Minister Le Drian requested limited assistance from the United States military to support this international effort. In the near term, France has requested airlift support to enable African forces to deploy promptly to prevent the further spread of sectarian violence in the Central African Republic.
“In response to this request, Secretary Hagel has directed U.S. AFRICOM to begin transporting forces from Burundi to the Central African Republic, in coordination with France.
“The United States is joining the international community in this effort because of our belief that immediate action is required to avert a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in the Central African Republic, and because of our interest in peace and security in the region. We continue to work to identify additional resources that might be available to help address further requests for assistance to support the international community’s efforts in CAR.”
This request by the French on behalf of the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) comes only days after the US Department of State had said they had yet to receive any such request for more direct US involvement. The US had pledged to provide $40 million for “equipment, training, and/or logistical support to MISCA.” It is unclear whether these funds will go toward these newly announced efforts, currently said to involve the airlifting of some eight hundred and fifty Burundian peacekeepers into CAR using US Air Force C-17 aircraft.
In addition, according to the Department of Defense, this effort will not have an operational nickname. However, this was the same official statement in January when the US military began supporting France’s intervention into Mali. As it turned out, this support operation did receive a nickname, Operation Juniper Micron. It seems unlikely that this effort will in fact go without an operational nickname, and we here at Codebook: Africa will work to get it if and when it becomes known and add it to our comprehensive listing.