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The United State could soon send hundreds of military advisers to the front line of the raging battle against Islamist terrorist organisation Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria and neighbouring countries. The plan to send US troops to the area was raised in a recent confidential assessment by US Special Operations commander for Africa, Brigadier General Donald C Bolduc.

Informed sources told The New York Times that while the plan has not been approved yet, it calls for US troops to serve in noncombat roles only.

“Rather than entangle US combat forces on the ground, help build the capacity of regional forces to tackle their countries’ security challenges,” Jennifer G Cooke, Africa director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told the NYT. “Training and advising and perhaps imparting the lessons we learned the hard way is a good thing.”

Hundreds of US troops are already present in Cameroon, who shares a troubled border with Nigeria. They have been using drones to gather intel on the Islamist insurgency for the Nigerian army.

Bolduc’s recommendations come following four of Nigeria’s neighbours informing the beleaguered nation that they would ignore Nigeria’s objections and send their own troops to contend with Boko Haram. Nigeria’s military, plagued by corruption, has been unable to stand against Boko Haram, who have started attacking in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

The much more effective militaries of these countries – particularly Chad’s US trained and supplied air force – have pushed back Boko Haram and caused it lose large tracts of previously conquered territory.