Young men play football in Bamako, Mali, Tuesday Jan. 15 2013. French forces led an all-night aerial bombing campaign Tuesday to wrest control of a small Malian town from armed Islamist extremists who seized the area, including its strategic military camp. A a convoy of 40 to 50 trucks carrying French troops crossed into Mali from Ivory Coast as France prepares for a possible land assault. Several thousand soldiers from the nations neighboring Mali are also expected to begin arriving in coming days. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
The Pentagon says it does not intend to put troops on the ground in Mali to assist in the ground operations against al-Qaida-backed militants, but it is supporting France in other ways.
Speaking at the Pentagon Tuesday, press secretary George Little said the United States strongly supports the French operation in Mali, and the Pentagon will continue to assess what support the French will need in the future.
The Pentagon is also moving toward setting up a military base in northwest Africa from which it can operate surveillance drones to monitor militants in the region.
Little said al-Qaida poses a threat to the region and U.S. interests, and that is why the military is taking steps to work with partners in the region to thwart them.