The Pentagon has announced it is sending 150 U.S. Marines to Africa, for a possible mission to evacuate Americans in South Sudan, where political and ethnic violence has claimed hundreds of lives and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
NPR's Tom Bowman says the Marines are being sent from Spain to beef up the U.S. military presence at a base in Eastern Africa. Officials say they'll await orders and could head into South Sudan.
The unit is equipped with C-130 cargo planes and Ospreys, a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane, Bowman says.
The additional U.S. troops come as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for more peacekeeping forces to help end the fighting in South Sudan.
The Associated Press reports:
"A defense official said the extra forces moved to Djibouti will bring the total U.S. troops in the region to 150, with 10 aircraft, including Osprey helicopters and C-130 transport planes. Of those forces, about 45 U.S. Army troops are in South Sudan providing security. The remainder are in Djibouti, where the U.S. maintains its only permanent military base in Africa. The U.S. and defense officials were not authorized to speak publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity."
"Troops deployed last week helped evacuate Americans and other foreign nationals and provided security at the U.S. Embassy in Juba. Another couple hundred Americans remain in the country, the official said."
"Three of the four U.S. troops injured Saturday when gunfire hit evacuation aircraft are stable and being sent to the military hospital in Germany, Warren said, while the fourth continues to get treatment in Nairobi, in neighboring Kenya. The four U.S. Navy SEALS were all wounded in the lower body by small arms fire."