A deadly conflict between al Qaeda linked militants and Mali government is escalating and the United States may soon be in the middle of it.
Islamic militants, who have controlled northern Mali for months, are now threatening to take control of the entire country.
The militant uprising prompted France to take action over the weekend as they began bombing rebel training camps and the United States is not far behind.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the U.S. will participate in Mali but they are still deciding what our involvement will look like.
Erin Burnett reported from the Mali border last summer and saw firsthand how dangerous the situation can be. Burnett reached out to her sources on the ground.
Omar Ould Hamaha, a leader of the Islamist group, Ansar dine in Mali, says the militants are "excited" and would welcome the opportunity to fight U.S. troops on the ground.
Outfront tonight: Rudy Atallah is the defense departments former Africa counterterrorism director, Geoff Porter is an adviser on political and security risks in North Africa, and Chris Lawrence is CNN's pentagon correspondent.