Although the United States is lending support in France’s military operation in Mali, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the American public should not be concerned about putting more U.S. troops at risk in the region. During a press conference in Portugal, Panetta ruled out the chance that the U.S. will put forces on the ground in the West African nation, reports The Associated Press.
The United States’ current role in the fight against al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is largely in the form of intelligence gathering, but it could eventually develop into one that sees American planes landing in Mali. While Panetta maintains that the ongoing French mission there is important, he stressed that putting troops in harm’s way is something he’s not interested in.
“There is no consideration of putting any American boots on the ground at this time,” he said at a press conference alongside Portuguese Defense Minister Jose Aguiar Branco, according to the AP.
Panetta may be committed to avoiding any entanglements, but the situation in Mali is developing quickly, The New York Times reports. The threat that the militant groups pose is still being interpreted, and some military officials have supported the idea of drone strikes or other significant involvement.