Reports: U.S. adds airlift to aid in Mali

As French military forces continue to battle extremist rebels in Mali, the U.S. will send American military aircraft to assist, reports NBC News.

Citing an anonymous U.S. defense official, the station reports that American military aircraft including two KC-130 Hercules planes based in Sigonella, Italy, and an assortment of C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy aircraft will deploy from the states.

The giant cargo planes will be used to transport French military personnel and equipment to Mali from their French points of origin, according to reports.

Earlier reports indicated that the U.S. was providing communication and transport assistance to French military efforts.

And while American officials say the U.S. is not planning to put boots on the ground in Mali, NBC reports that a Marine Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team (FAST), like the one that responded to the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya in September, is prepared to deploy to the region if called upon.

While traveling in Europe this week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. would continue to provide logistical and intelligence support to the military effort in Mali, but emphasized the extent of support would be limited, saying U.S. officials have eliminated the possibility of inserting troops into the conflict.