Via Washington Post:
The United States is significantly expanding its assistance to a French assault on Islamist militants in Mali by offering aerial refueling and planes to transport soldiers from other African nations, the Pentagon announced Saturday night.
The gesture comes amid a debate within the Obama administration about how deeply it should engage in the French effort to prevent Islamists from wresting control of the West African nation. French requests for more robust support from Washington raised a legal dilemma because U.S. law forbids foreign assistance funds to leaders that came to power through a coup. Mali’s military leaders, including some trained by U.S. troops, seized power last year by force.
“The French requested this support, and we believe it was important to move ahead,” a senior defense official said Saturday night, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy deliberations. “The U.S. has the most advanced refueling technology in the world, and we wanted to provide this support.”