Levin warns against ‘boots on the ground’ in search for Nigerian girls

Two senior senators on Thursday said they supported the administration’s efforts to help rescue nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted in Nigeria but warned against deploying U.S. military troops to that country.

“We don’t want to get boots on the ground," Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinOvernight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden pays tribute to late Sen. Levin: 'Embodied the best of who we are' Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm dead at 85 MORE (D-Mich.) said at a Capitol Hill press conference.


Levin said neither the American public nor Nigeria would support military action in the African nation.

“They would not welcome Seal Team Six, I believe,” he said, referring to the elite U.S. Navy team that killed Osama bin Laden.

“But they do welcome what we can do without going that far, and there’s a lot more we can do and now the president has done,” he added.

Levin, overall, expressed support for the White House response.

“We ought to be more deeply involved in Nigeria. That’s the whole point,” he said.

The panel’s top Republican, Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate Senate GOP moving toward deal to break defense bill stalemate Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE (Okla.) told reporters that they were “comfortable” with the administration’s approach to the crisis.

President Obama on Wednesday notified Congress that around 80 U.S. military personnel had been dispatched to the neighboring country of Chad to help locate the girls who were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram last month.

The personnel will conduct intelligence and surveillance operations, mainly through the use of unmanned and unarmed Predator drones.

The administration had already sent roughly 30 law enforcement and intelligence experts to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, to aid in the effort.

The White House though has said that the U.S. is not weighing sending military troops into Nigeria and stressed that the Nigerian government is taking the lead in the search and that American assets are playing a supporting role.

The Armed Services Committee’s proposed $514 billion defense policy bill contains a general provision that supports the Pentagon’s efforts in the search to date.

“We want greater action, yes, and now we see it from the administration, and I welcome it,” Levin told reporters.