US considers sending top military advisers to Nigeria

The Pentagon is considering sending military advisers to Nigeria to train troops to fight Boko Haram insurgents and boost security, a United States official has said.

The defence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the US military made a string of recommendations after Nigeria’s leaders asked for help determining possible courses of action in the fight against the Islamist militants.

One recommendation was to send a group of advisers — most likely special operations troops — to Nigeria to train local forces. They would not be involved in combat.

Such a mission would be a resumption of an earlier Pentagon effort that Nigeria stopped in late 2014 amid US concerns of suspected army abuses and its failure to protect civilians.

The two countries also had strained diplomatic ties stemming in part from the US blocking Nigerian efforts to buy Cobra attack helicopters.

Ties have improved under the President Muhammadu Buhari who has vowed to do more than his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan to fight Boko Haram.

The New York Times first reported the potential deployment on Friday, saying the Pentagon was poised to send dozens of advisers to Maiduguri, capital of northeast Borno state.

But the official downplayed the speed of any deployment, and said the operation was still being discussed.