President Barack Obama is sending five American military officers to South Sudan amid recent outbreaks of violence in the newly independent African nation.
The White House said the U.S. forces will join the United Nations mission in the capital of Juba and focus on strategic planning and operations. They are not expected to engage in combat operations, but will be armed for personal protection.
Obama issued a memorandum Tuesday declaring that the U.S. officers could not be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court during their deployment because South Sudan is not a party to the ICC. The White House said prior administrations used similar designations when sending U.S. forces to United Nations missions in Haiti and Liberia.
The first of the small group of U.S. forces is expected to depart for South Sudan later this week. The Pentagon said there were no plans to expand the U.S. contribution to the U.N. mission.