For John, BLUF: The US Military is always involved somewhere.
How many people in the local area care? I guess not many.
That said, how do you think the heavy equipment for the French and the men and equipment of the ECOWAS crowd are getting there? If you guess United States Air Force you win.
The "long War" is not over, notwithstanding what people in our Nation's Capitol say. We have reduced our footprint in Iraq and are reducing our footprint in Afghanistan, but we are still out there, fighting the al Qaeda bring, in its various forms. And, a word of caution. It isn't all black and white. There are shades of gray. A knowledgeable acquaintance noted:
We have to be careful not to confuse the Taureg self-determination movement, that has been around for some time and affects neighboring Niger as well, with our fear that Ansar Dine will prevail with its agenda to install Shari'a law throughout. While its leader is related to an AQIM leader, the relations between the two is still a question mark. The Tauregs have some legitimate issues and have indicated their willingness to talkWe may be pulling back a little, but we are still involved out there and if things go South, we will be involved even more. Notice how we recently helped France try to rescue an agent captured in Somali.
Regards — Cliff