Robert Windrem and Jim Millaszewski of NBC News report Why U.S. Drones Aren't Flying Over Nigeria (And What They Could Do if They Were), informing us that even though U.S. officials have offered many forms of assistance including drone surveillance to help search for the more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls, the Nigerian government has yet to accept the offers. So far, Nigeria has only approved a very small "coordination cell" and a small FBI investigative unit," perhaps wanting to avoid embarrassment, appearing weak, or appearing to be a puppet to western powers.
“There are no active discussions” with the Nigerian government about the use of “unmanned aerial surveillance,” or drones, said Rear Adm. John Kirby.
In fact, Kirby said, the relatively small “coordination team” of U.S. military, law enforcement FBI and intelligence officials is the only offer of assistance that the Nigerian government has accepted. Kirby declined to say what else may have been offered and rejected by the Nigerians, saying only, “We urge them (Nigerians) to use all resources at their disposal.” ...
Frustration over the inaction was evident at a Pentagon briefing Friday. ... Privately, a U.S. official familiar with U.S. intelligence options in the region, confirmed Kirby’s statement to NBC News that no drones have flown in pursuit of the missing girls. “No, not yet,” said the official , speaking on condition of anonymity. “No permission, no flights.”
U.S. officials say that even without the drones the United States has many other hi-tech spy technology that can be helpful such as longer-range Global Hawks and MQ-9s that can be flown from United Arab Emirate or England, as well as a new class of low orbiting tactical satellites that fly 55 miles above the Earths surface.
In addition the ORS and TacSat satellites used regularly in Afghanistan could be repositioned over Nigeria without needing permission to use the airspace of the countries involved because they are considered to be "in space" where no one can hear one complain. (snark alert.)
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan faces allegations within Nigerian that he ignored the plight of the kidnapped girls for the first two weeks in order to attempt to avoid bad public relations distractions prior to the World Economic Forum he hosted in Abuja last week.
Is it possible he now does not want to risk alienating the Islamic fraction of his country by appearing to align with western powers?
Our sympathies, prayers and best wishes go out to these poor girls, their families, and all the people of Nigeria.