The United States already supplies France with intelligence support, including satellite imagery and signals intercepts. The White House is also considering providing refueling for French aircraft. But there are a variety of additional means the U.S. could employ short of a major ground action.
The U.S could conduct airstrikes in support of French troops and the African forces expected to deploy in the coming weeks. Special operations forces and CIA paramilitaries could conduct raids against insurgent headquarters and heavy weapons caches.
These low-cost, low-commitment measures would have a devastating effect on the jihadist insurgency. Guerrilla groups are at their most vulnerable when they attempt to seize and hold terrain. The opening months of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2001 demonstrated the effectiveness of augmenting non-U.S. coalition ground forces with such critical capabilities.