However, the unusually harsh criticism from Paris underscored the longtime U.S. ally’s growing frustration with the U.S. commitment to the Mali mission.
The U.S. is providing “invaluable” intelligence-gathering help for the Mali campaign, the French officials said. But the U.S. has yet to decide on whether to agree to France’s request for U.S. planes to refuel French fighters in flight, they said. France has a small fleet of aging refueling tankers and says more are needed to maintain the tempo of air operations in remote Mali.
France also has asked the U.S. to send additional manned and unmanned surveillance planes to spy on rebel communications, but the White House so far hasn’t responded to that request either.
Obama administration officials have said they support the French campaign but want to get a clear picture of the mission and the rebels being targeted in French strikes before providing more assistance.