A U.S. Army brigade will begin sending small teams into as many as 35 African nations early next year, part of an intensifying Pentagon effort to train countries to battle extremists.
The teams will be limited to training and equipping efforts, and won't be permitted to conduct military operations without specific, additional approval from the secretary of defense.
The sharper focus on Africa by the U.S. comes against a backdrop of widespread insurgent violence across North Africa, and as the African Union and other nations discuss military intervention in northern Mali.
The terror threat from al-Qaida-linked groups in Africa has been growing steadily. Officials believe the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi may have been carried out by insurgents with ties to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.