December 9th, 2013
01:24 PM ET

U.S. military aircraft to aid Central African Republic mission

By CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

American military aircraft will fly African and European peacekeepers to the Central African Republic, which is in the midst of a bloody internal conflict between various proclaimed Christian and Muslim militias and other rebel factions.

The decision announced the Pentagon was followed by a statement from President Barack Obama, who called on the country's citizens to reject violence and urged the transitional government to join "respected leaders" in Muslim and Christian communities in calling for "calm and peace."

 "Individuals who are engaging in violence must be held accountable in accordance with the law. Meanwhile, as forces from other African countries and France work to restore security, the United States will support their efforts to protect civilians," Obama said.

 Pentagon spokesman Carl Woog said "the United States is joining the international community" in aiding the peackeeping effort "because of our belief that immediate action is required to avert a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe."

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel responded after talking with his French counterpart, Yves Le Drian, on Sunday from Afghanistan, Woog said, adding that France asked for "limited assistance."

The request for near term help involves U.S. air support to enable the prompt deployment of African forces "to prevent the further spread of sectarian violence," Woog said.

Violence has raged in the former French colony east of Cameroon since a coalition of rebels deposed President Francois Bozize in March. It was the latest in a series of coups since the nation gained independence. Bozize fled the country after his ouster.

Left uncontrolled, militia groups are uniting along religious lines. Christian vigilante groups have formed to battle Seleka, the predominantly Muslim coalition behind the President's removal.

More than 400,000 people - nearly 10% of the population - have been internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution last week authorizing military intervention by an African Union-led force backed by French troops to protect civilians, restore humanitarian access and stabilize the country.

As part of the effort, the United States will fly troops from Burundi to the Central African Republic capital of Bangui.

The Pentagon will provide security for its planes, but there is no indication about the number of troops involved. The operation is expected to be relatively small.

Violence on the ground, which has included machetes, knives, rifles and grenades, will be a "big factor" in any U.S. operation, a U.S. official told CNN.

"It's a concern," the official said.

French President Francois Hollande said in Paris over the weekend that the goal is to hold elections once security is restored.

Those displaced include people hiding in the bush without shelter, food, or drinking water, Doctors Without Borders has said.

In a statement on Monday, the international medical organization called for all parties to let the wounded and sick "safely obtain medical care," and for "an end to violence and threats against patients, civilians, and medical staff" nationwide.

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    • Trevor

      Interesting that you list only the U.S...You're right, its not in our national interests to get involved militarily in the CAR conflict. But the 2nd, 3rd and 4th order effects on not paying attention to Syria are far more reaching than the civil war in the CAR. Our economic well being would be substantially affected by the Syria conflict spreading outside its borders(thats why our military was rushed to be in-place so quickly) and is, therefore, one of our top priorities. Just like EVERY other country in the world. EVERYONE doesn't get "involved" too much in Africa, for the very same reasons.

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    December 9, 2013 at 11:14 pm | Reply
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      Actually Portland, the Chinese are doing a lot of good in Africa these days. All the European colonial powers did was to exploit their natural resources and impoverish the people there, the British being the worst among them.

      December 9, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Reply
      • Trevor

        Press with list that does not benefit the Chinese in any shape or form (ie humanitarian aid). Don't tell us the Chinese are doing "good" in Africa for the exclusive "good" of Africans...

        December 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • Marco

      Seleka, the predominantly Muslim coalition behind the President's removal is the issue in CAR. Muslim terrorism is not unique to the CAR, or Africa, Muslim terrorism is a problem across the globe.

      December 10, 2013 at 12:06 am | Reply
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    December 9, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Reply
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    December 9, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Reply
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    December 9, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Reply
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    December 9, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Reply
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        December 9, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • mutantsubhuman

      Has anyone noticed that it was Eisenhower(R) that ended the Korean Conflict as an ongoing battle, that it was Nixon(R) that ended the Vietnam War and that it was Reagan(R) that ended the cold war, that al-Maliki accelerated the pullout of U.S forces from Iraq over Obama's goal and that Karzai is accelerating the pullout of U.S. forces from Afghan over Obama's goal? The DNC has everyone bamboozled that it is always the (R) that start wars and (D) that end them.

      December 9, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Reply
      • Quinton

        Wrong on two counts, mutantsubhuman. First of all, it was Mikhail Gorbachev rather than Ronald Reagan who ended the Cold War and we have troops in Iraq today, although the right-wing media never mentions it. Then again, Richard Nixon did have a "secret plan" to end the Vietnam War but that plan was the use of nuclear weapons against North Vietnam. Of course this would mean death for our POW's there too so Nixon backed out of his sinister plan 4 times.

        December 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
      • General Sherman

        Quinton, you seem to be one of the few people who post here who actually knows what's really going on in the world. It seems that those who favor our senseless interventionist policies abroad never finished grade school. Theirs is the kind of ignorance that truly threatens this country even more than the Islam Extremists do now!

        December 10, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
      • mutantsubhuman

        General, I hadn't noticed Quinton's response. You are spot on. This is why I no longer argue with 3 year olds.

        December 11, 2013 at 1:22 am |
  88. Roberto

    Obama just seeing where else he can spend our money.

    December 9, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Reply
  89. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

    Death and Life are for God to decide not Man

    December 9, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Reply
    • smdahl

      How dare you imply our gov't is not god!

      December 9, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  90. George patton

    It looks like the right-wing thugs in Washington are at it again, dragging us into more of their useless and unnecessary wars as always!!! What stupidity.

    December 9, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Reply
    • Bob from Accounting

      Stupid is a label I would apply to someone who forgets the party affiliation of the Commander in Chief, whom was set on starting World War III in Syria.

      December 9, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Reply
    • 1CDO_RLI

      Liberal Audacity, and typical cant ownership for actions. Or lying is ok.

      December 9, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Reply
      • gud ting

        gud ting wii republikins kin bii hom skoold lyk wii r dun sowt. ger republikins!!!!!!

        December 9, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Kevin

      Heard President Obama referred to as many things, but never a right wing thug. Guess you do not know President Obama decides this type of thing. Perhaps you should brush up on Government 101.

      December 9, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Reply
    • Brittany

      1. We're not sending troops or any american citizens anywhere. IF you read the article clearly it states that they will be using our resources (planes and crew) to send EUROPEAN AND AFRICAN peace keepers on the ground. Nothing about american troops.

      2. You say that its useless but how many times have history shown that there needs to be intervention. There does need to human rights standard that all people should be considerate of. If you knew anything about CAR or African history, you'd known that what the CAR is going through is very similar to Darfur and Rwanda and it could easily turn into that. So while you say that its useless, you also say differently when you see the pictures of starving children and millions of dead innocent bodies. Make up your mind.

      December 9, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Reply
      • Michael

        Who do you think flies those planes? Guards them at these remote locations?

        December 9, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
      • Brittany

        @Michael They'll have a plane full of armed peacekeepers. In addition the pilots/load masters have guns when they land in war zones. They'll probably be there less than a few hours and they'll probably land at a commercial airport, not some dirt landing strip in the middle of a battle field.

        December 9, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • doug

      Obama is a right wing thug???

      December 9, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Reply
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