The White House and Pentagon are divided about how to handle the expanding war in Mali and the involvement of a mix of Islamist militant groups, including some with possible ties to al-Qaida.
The French military's intervention in its former north African colony and the terrorist attack on a gas complex in neighboring Algeria are prompting debate in the Obama administration about whether there is a sufficient threat to the United States or its allies to call for a military response.
Some Pentagon officials warn that without aggressive military action, Mali could become a base for terrorists, much like Afghanistan was before the Sept. 11 attacks, the Los Angeles Times
reports. However, Obama's top aides say it's not clear if the Mali insurgents are connected with al-Qaida. Further they do not want to be drawn into a long conflict in Mali at the same time troops are being withdrawn from Afghanistan.
The Pentagon plans to begin using U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo jets to take additional French troops and equipment to Mali in upcoming days, said Major Robert Firman, a Pentagon spokesman.
The conflict between the White House and the Pentagon, though, has caused a delay in U.S. support for the French, who airlifted troops into Mali last weekend and which has launched airstrikes to stop the militants from pushing into Bamako, the capital.
The United States has ruled out putting troops on the ground, unless it's in small numbers to support the French.
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