The troops will "conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in the region," Obama said. "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."
U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the troops would provide intelligence to a multi-national task force being set up to fight Boko Haram and composed of troops from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin.
Boko Haram's morale isn't what it used to be:
In the last three weeks troops in the northeast (Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states) have inflicted several major and many minor defeats on Boko Haram. Hundreds of Boko Haram captives have been freed, largely because more troops are out searching and Boko Haram does not have enough men to defend or move their camps and their captives when troops close in. In short, the Islamic terrorists are running out of places to hide. There are fewer Boko Haram raids, especially large scale ones, and more bombings, often by suicide bombers who think they are delivering a package that is actually a remotely controlled bomb. Most Boko Haram losses are now from desertion, surrender (for amnesty) or capture. Dying for the cause is not as popular as it used to be.
See? Killing jihadis doesn't just make more jihadis. Killing them and defeating them really can discourage them and depress recruiting when the glorious caliphate doesn't look like something to be enjoyed any time soon.
It would be nice if there was some offshore support with a reaction force available in case the troops not intended for combat find themselves in combat for their own force protection.
But it is always nice to see our administration recognize that there is actually an option between doing nothing and sending several hundred thousand troops into combat.
UPDATE: The help is welcome:
Nigeria and Cameroon on Thursday welcomed a US decision to send up to 300 military personnel to Cameroon to help the regional fight against Boko Haram militants.
We will provide ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) help, which would include manned and unmanned aircraft to find and track jihadis.