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Reports: U.S. adds airlift to aid in Mali

Officials continue to say, however, that the U.S. is not planning to put boots on the ground.

As French military forces continue to battle extremist rebels in Mali, the U.S. will send American military aircraft to assist, reports NBC News.

Citing an anonymous U.S. defense official, the station reports that American military aircraft including two KC-130 Hercules planes based in Sigonella, Italy, and an assortment of C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy aircraft will deploy from the states.

The giant cargo planes will be used to transport French military personnel and equipment to Mali from their French points of origin, according to reports.

Earlier reports indicated that the U.S. was providing communication and transport assistance to French military efforts.

And while American officials say the U.S. is not planning to put boots on the ground in Mali, NBC reports that a Marine Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team (FAST), like the one that responded to the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya in September, is prepared to deploy to the region if called upon.

While traveling in Europe this week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. would continue to provide logistical and intelligence support to the military effort in Mali, but emphasized the extent of support would be limited, saying U.S. officials have eliminated the possibility of inserting troops into the conflict.

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Hope Hodge first covered military issues for the Daily News of Jacksonville, N.C., where her beat included the sprawling Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune. During her two years at the paper, she received investigative reporting awards for exposing a former Marine who was using faked military awards to embezzle disability pay from the government and for breaking news about the popularity of the designer drug Spice in the ranks. Her work has also appeared in The American Spectator, New York Sun, WORLD Magazine, and The Washington Post. Hodge was born near Boston, Mass., where she grew up as a lover of Revolutionary War history and fall foliage. She also discovered a love of politics and policy as a grassroots volunteer and activist on Beacon Hill. She graduated in 2009 with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from The King's College in New York City, where she served as editor-in-chief of her school newspaper and worked as a teaching assistant when not freelancing or using student discounts to see Broadway shows. Hope???s email is