The Pentagon is prepared to approve a new plan to redeploy ground troops already in Nigeria to the front lines of that nation’s war against Boko Haram, saying they will be positioned close to fighting but in a purely “non-combat role.”
The troops were originally sent to Nigeria for “training” of that nation’s military for the war on terror, and the redeployment would have them in “advisory” roles, putting them right in the middle of the action.
The US has regularly couched ground deployments around the world as “non-combat” roles, and stuck to that official label even after those troops start getting involved in direct combat on a regular basis. The shift closer to the front line suggests Nigeria is simply following this tactic.
Getting the small ground contingent into combat zones, or at least close to them, tends to serve as a convenient excuse for the Pentagon to start deploying yet more troops to defend those troops. In Iraq, this has led a deployment that involves “no boots on the ground” to include upwards of 5,000 troops.