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U.S. can help search for Nigerian schoolgirls, officials say

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., both said the U.S. can help the Nigerian government find the nearly 300 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

A group of American advisers and British experts have traveled to Nigeria to aid the government in the search and rescue efforts more than three weeks after the kidnappings took place. The kidnappings have inspired outrage across the globe, partially captured by the social media hashtag, #BringBackOurGirls.

Gates said U.S. intelligence assets and special forces advisers could prove helpful to the Nigerian military and police.

"I don't think we ought to be involved militarily at all, but I think we do have assets that could be brought to bear if the Nigerian government was willing to ask for our help," he said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

Rogers, in a separate interview, said that the U.S. both "can and must" help with the search for the girls but that there is a larger problem with the spread of extremism across the region the administration must confront.

There is a new "ecosystem of terrorism" including groups like Boko Haram, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and other groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"You can't base your policy on what's trending on twitter. It has to be more than hashtags and selfies," Rogers said. "This is a huge and growing problem that's really been relatively ignored."

In particular, Rogers cited the country of Chad, which he says has been fighting back Boko Haram, al Qaeda and al-Shabab in various parts of the country without much help from the U.S.

Rogers also said the nation should be worried about the 11 million women in Afghanistan when U.S. forces finally leave the country and women in Syria, which is still in a state of civil war.

"This is going to continue to happen unless we have a robust holistic approach to what is radicalism and extremism popping up around the world," he said.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for