By Jeremy Herb - 12/09/13 03:19 PM EST
Defense Secretary Chuck HagelChuck HagelHagel says NATO deployment could spark a new Cold War with Russia Overnight Defense: House panel unveils 5B defense spending bill Hagel to next president: We need to sit down with Putin MORE is directing the military to transport troops from Burundi to the Central African Republic.
Pentagon spokesman Carl Woog said in a statement that Hagel ordered U.S. forces assist the French in airlifting African troops to quickly deploy and prevent further sectarian violence in the Central African Republic.
Hagel directed U.S. Africa Command to assist in the operation after speaking Monday with French Defense Minister Yves Le Drian.
The French are aiding an African Union-led mission in the Central African Republic.
There are more than 1,000 French troops on the ground there, according to the Associated Press, after Christian fighters opposed to Muslim ex-rebels now in charge launched an attack on the capital that killed roughly 400 people last week.