January 14th, 2013
04:48 PM ET

U.S. looks to support France's Mali offensive

By Chris Lawrence

The United States military could provide logistical and intelligence support in the French effort against Islamist rebels in Mali, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday.

The U.S. will "provide whatever assistance it can" as part of what Panetta said was the U.S. global efforts against al Qaeda.

"We have a responsibility to go after Al Qaida wherever they are. And we've gone after them in the FATA. We're going after them in Yemen and Somalia. And we have a responsibility to make sure that Al Qaida does not establish a base for operations in North Africa and Mali," Panetta told reporters traveling with him to Europe.

The State Department said Monday the U.S. is in consultation with the French now on a number of requests that they have made for support, reports CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty.

“We are reviewing the requests that they have made," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday.

The U.S., she said, is “not in the position to support the Malian military directly until we have democratic processes restored by way of an election in Mali. We are not in a position to train the Malian military until we have democracy restored.”

Panetta described the assistance as both logistical and intelligence.  The U.S. has already started sharing intelligence from satellites and intercepted signals with the French, defense officials said Monday.  In addition, the Pentagon is considering sending refueling tankers so that French jets can fly longer, more sustained combat mission, according to the officials.

Drones "are under consideration," according to defense officials, though the military's stash of unmanned aerial vehicles are in heavy demand.

"That's one of the things we're working through now, is how many and from where we'd be able to provide those assets," said one of the officials, noting that drones are being used in other conflict areas such as Afghanistan and Yemen.

Although both caveat that these would be surveillance drones and said there are no plans yet to deploy armed unmanned aerial vehicles.

The officials also say another intelligence-gathering assets under consideration are piloted planes.

"There's no real air defenses to speak of in Mali, outside of AQIM firing guns in the air. So anything we send does not have to be our most secretive, less detectable equipment," one of the officials aid.

The US also considering giving "airlift capacity" to the effort, similar to what the British have provided in two cargo planes, according to the officials. This "would help the French with moving equipment, vehicles and people" to where they're needed in Mali, the officials said.

Panetta said al Qaeda's Mali affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, is not an immediate threat to the U.S. homeland but does pose a risk if it gains a foothold.  U.S. officials have said group was tied to the recent attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

"While they might not have any immediate plans for attacks in the United States and in Europe, that ultimately that still remains their objective and it's for that reason that we have to take steps now to ensure that AQIM does not get that kind of traction," Panetta said, according to a transcript of Panetta's remarks to reporters.

soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Beaulah Alhaddad

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  2. Ben Hohaia

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    March 15, 2013 at 9:29 am | Reply
  4. Clinton

    I can't help but find it funny when people crticize the use of force by the US in situations like this... particularly those saying that if the US gets involved many more will die. The opposite is true in fact. Civil wars in Africa are notoriously atrocious, they often resort to genocide depending on which side wins and which tribe sided with the losing side. Our wars are fought differently, we come in with decisive force, annihilate the enemy, force them to surrender or die, and thats it, we rebuild the Government forces and equip them to deal with any insurgency. That in my view is better than standing back and watching a power move by Al Quaida turn into a bloody civil war with the potential to cause loss of life in the 100's of thousands if not millions.... idiots here and around the country don't want to hear this though, they forget about places like Rawanda where bloody civil war was left unchecked and one of the worst humanitarian crisises in history occurred because people like those in this blog think it's better to leave well enough alone.

    January 15, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Reply
  5. Hahahahahahahaha

    Go France!!!!! Toast some Towel Heads!!!!!! Would that be "French Toasted Towel Heads"? Hahahahahahaha

    January 15, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Reply
    • More Proof We Own You

      Hahahahahahahaha . . . . keep us the good work. We israelis love to pass on hate and confusion.

      Yeah . . . . keep killing the evil towel heads . . . they don't deserve to live and to grow old. They all must be exterminated.

      We love killing the evil camel donkey lovers. We hate Islam. We hate Christians. We love war and misery.

      We are the israelies . . . . . Hahahahahahahaha!

      January 16, 2013 at 11:34 am | Reply
    • BigShiz

      You guys are two sides of the same coin.

      January 16, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Reply
  6. stevephoenix

    The US should offer assistance in proportion to what the French army has provided in our war in Afghanistan. I believe they pulled out before we did, for the new French prime minister made his political gains at the expense of his nations military cooperation with the US. I think they are getting about as much as would be expected considering they pulled out on us in Afghanistan. If you want to make a strong alliance with the US, and you want our support in such an operation, you need to have been a stalwart ally in our time of need as well.

    Don't bail on us, and we will have your back when you need us.

    January 15, 2013 at 3:25 am | Reply
    • George Patton

      This post above is one of most ignorant ones I've seen here yet! Good grief stevephoenix, you must be another ignorant Tea Partier or at least, you sound like one! Let the French fight their own wars, I say. Besides, pulling out of Afghanistan is one of the most sensible things France did lately!!!

      January 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Reply
      • Nick Hatcher

        You do that name a terrible disservice.

        January 15, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • More Proof We Own You

      stevephoenix . . . keep us the good work.. These stu-pud Americans don't even know you, like me, are in israel and on the clock passing on these comments to kill towel heads and to sound American.

      They are soooo dumb. Thank you cnn for allowing us to confuse these dummy Christian Americans.

      We are the israelies and we love hate and war. Pass it on!
      Carry on stevie . . . .Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

      January 16, 2013 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • Cheerios

      You are a true moron.

      January 24, 2013 at 7:40 am | Reply
  7. Matt

    This current operation is an added module, phase one which was to stop the advance south of al-Qaida, that will take weeks. This phase should not have been required. If the French plan was employed last year, but it was called crap. Phase two is to push north with the ECOWAS and Mali forces and take and hold the population centers and push al-Qaida into the desert.

    That is not to say there would not be the legion involved in a small foot print long range desert patrols, or to help in a small foot print along with the Malian and ECOWAS troops. In the second phase which is now the third phase. One would have hoped for some special forces JSOC, UK SAS, Qatar, UAE, EU, for that phase. Meanwhile we train and increase the force structure of the Malian military to take over for ECOWAS and then take over the long range desert patrols or at least complement the foreign elements involved. But in the end take over of their own security. Once phase one which was required to hold and consolidate control of the south.

    Just as with what we did with Somali using Ethiopian and Kenyan forces, in relation to Mali, Niger, Algeria and Mauritania have to prevent their borders from being used and maintain the physical integrity of the encirclement, so they can't break out of a pocket. The third phase which is a small foot print will take some time and requires patience. So while phase one and two required urgency, phase three requires patience, it is long range desert patrols, hit and run, mainly in the nocturnal environment.

    January 15, 2013 at 1:21 am | Reply
  8. wjmccartan

    I just wish that all you right-wing war loving idiots would quit vomiting our you love for the U.S. to jump into Mali and just shut up!!! Now more people will get butchered and people in Washington will make more money! This is disgusting and proves just how fair life is not!

    January 14, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Reply
    • wjmccartan

      Lyndsie Graham/George Patton you can't change your snowflake you idoit, I don't know how many times I have to tell you, stupid. Go back to your fields and lay down with the sheep like you always do, pray to al al al oh you know that moron who said he talked with that other moron moe ham mud, go out to the fields and play with your sheep, fondle their balls, and keep a good stiff chin under those balls, you miscreant whose father was a goat and mother was an donkey, you long eared s-h-i-t eating desert dog.

      January 14, 2013 at 11:23 pm | Reply
    • Djingo

      dont go screaming about right wing nut jobs bro, they make themselves look crazy enough. but honestly this would be a just fight, we are liberating an area beset by violence and evil brought upon by al qaeda and thereby making the world a better place. yes we are embroiled in to many foreign wars, but for once lets do something good with the incredible power that is the US

      January 15, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Reply
      • wjmccartan

        Good work, Phunnie boy. Now you're posting under the name Djingo, I see. As long as most people are to smart to believe your Tea Party nonsense, that's all right. Unfortunately, that's not the case!

        January 16, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  9. wjmccartan


    January 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Reply
    • Kerry

      Beautifully posted, wjmccartan. I feel the same way you do over this idiotic policy of jumping into these obscene wars without any provocation just to make a profit and promote the careers of these unsavory right-wing politicians in Washington.

      January 14, 2013 at 11:30 pm | Reply
      • wjmccartan

        So now we can add Kerry to George Patton and Lyndsie Graham, your an even bigger idiot then I gave you credit for you moron, look up its another drone looking just for you, I know throw a shoe at it, that will work, dung bettle.

        January 14, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  10. delrock

    war is drugs......

    January 14, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Reply
  11. No Hindus In My Backyard Please


    A recent report by United Press trust of India (UPI) stated that during the past three years more than 2,500 young boys and girls were sacrificed to goddess Kali in India. Another of AFP's recent reports say: hundreds of young boys and virgin girls are sacrificed every month for the deity Kali. In one case Rama Sewak hacked his eight year old son to death in broad daylight in Delhi because goddess Kali had told him he would come back to life and bring him good fortune. Bloodthirsty Kali is worshipped openly the length and breadth of India. Kali's statue stands naked astride the inanimate body of the Hindu deity Shiva, tongue stuck out with blood dripping from fang-like teeth. She holds a noose, a skull-topped staff, a blood-encrusted sword and a severed head. She is also known as Durga, Devi, Shaktima, Uma and Parvathi in other manifestations. The priest of Delhi, Kali Bari, says that a child sacrificed to Kali ensures a man the birth of a son. Human sacrifices are also made to these gods or goddesses, either to appease them or to ask favours of them.

    January 14, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  12. George Patton

    Here we go again!!! I figured that those idiots in Washington would drag us into another one of their idiotic wars, but then again, this isn't even our war to begin with. This is France's war and not all the right-wing bla-bla-bla in the world will change, then again, most people are just to naive to know the difference!!! They just believe what the government says just like sheep!

    January 14, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Reply
    • Portland tony

      Thank you, George. I'm just as mad as you are over this stupid idea of our jumping into Mali. Let the French fight their own battles for a change. Enough of this stupidity like you say!!!!!!

      January 14, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Reply
      • Bob saget

        I mean we have only saved them about 40 times already

        January 14, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • wjmccartan

      George Patton and Lyndsie Graham are one in the same, s-h-i-t licking towel headed turd wrangler.

      January 14, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Reply
      • George Patton

        I figured that sooner or later some war happy, Tea Partying dimwit was going to get around to posting the above. Besides, the true wjmccartan is no Tea Partier and never uses that lingo above. I only that this clown above would use his own name to express his love for these useless and unnecessary wars!!!

        January 14, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • mikey

      Too bad you missed the war those government idiots stayed away from in Libya. Unfortunately if we had been there at the end and had secured Qaddafi's weapons stashes, the Turags would not have had the weapons to take back to Mali to get this latest insurgency off the ground.

      January 15, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Reply
      • wjmccartan

        Gee mikey, you must be another war happy Tea Partier. Aren't you ashamed to display such ignorance here? Besides, we did interfere in Libya's civil war which made it possible for those self-styled "liberators" to take over that country. Otherwise the forces loyal to Qaddaffy would have won!

        January 15, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
      • More Proof We Own You

        mikey . . . .you're so funny . . . . but keep up the good work . . . .your idf propaganda officer will give you brownie points for trying so hard.

        You'll learn . . . you greenhorn . . . . my advise . . . just keep at it.

        January 16, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • mikey

      I I sure hope someone is planning on securing the WMD's in Syria before the Al Nusra beards get a hold of them. If that happens Mali will look like a day camp for 7 year old's.

      January 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  13. Sam Boston

    I take my hat off to France on taking this initiative and on supporting Mali in its fight against this evil cult of Islam.

    January 14, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Reply
    • Dogai

      I take my hat off to France on taking this initiative and on supporting Mali in its fight against this evil cult of Islam.

      January 14, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Reply
    • Bibi Your Master

      Sam Boston is on the idf clock and I applaud her efforts to keep the hate swirling in the hearts of stu-pud Americans. We israelis don't care what other people believe. We hate Islam! We hate Christians! We hate Mormons!

      We only care about ourselves . . . the zine-0-ists of israel. We are the masters of the world.

      Do you think we will allow anyone to oppose us? Africa, Asia, Europe (We own the French, too) South America and the United States. Our fiat money gives us the power to run all of your lives!

      If you complain we won't allow you to eat, or we'll raise the price of milk and gas so you'll have to spend all your money just to eat and get to work. Ha ha ha . . . we laugh at you stu-pud Americans for being so dumb.

      Why you dorks just don't wipe us off the map is beyond us . . . we know you dummy Americans love to suck authority and so its best you are sucking on our authority.

      Yippi-ka-ya! we own you dorks. We're your masters. The only reason we keep you working is to send us your money.

      Yippppppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! We zine-0-ist in israel are your masters!

      Get used to it!

      January 14, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Reply
      • Bibi your master

        Bibi and George Patton both like to suck the crap out of camels rearends, and the play with it before they eat it all up. Knuckleheads.

        January 14, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
      • BigShiz

        Bibi is a gay Persian.

        January 15, 2013 at 3:13 am |
      • More Proof We Own You

        I love it . . . there is another towel head hater out there using my name . . . . Bibi Your Master.

        Hey George . . . another zine-0-ist brother wrote the reply. She is an idf private and she got it wrong as she included me, "Bibi" in her hateful comment.

        But what the heck, she, the impostor, is only doing what she has been taught in Propaganda 101 school . . . paid for by stupid Americans.


        January 16, 2013 at 11:40 am |
      • BigShiz

        Hay more proof are you having fun being a gay Persian pretending to be a jew?

        January 16, 2013 at 9:25 pm |

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