U.S. Africa Command forces stationed in Djibouti conducted an operational and logistics assessment in Gao, Mali, March 3.
"Exercising our forces in this joint readiness event demonstrates our capacity to rapidly respond anywhere across the African continent when the need arises," said U.S. Africa Command Commander, U.S. Army General Stephen Townsend. "Our flexible and adaptable response is essential to our ability to protect U.S. personnel and facilities anywhere in Africa and shows we also have capacity to support our partners in the region."
Such movements are conducted in order to test the readiness of troops to move long distances on short notice. In this exercise, troops moved approximately 5,000 kilometers (2,900 miles) across Africa.
U.S. forces routinely conduct operational and logistics assessments across regions to prepare for contingencies, exercise readiness, and identify areas for improvement.
While on the ground in Gao, the U.S. troops met with French troops.
"This is a great opportunity to link up with our African and international partners, practice procedures, and deliver great readiness training in a complex security environment," Townsend said. "This training enhances our ability to rapidly respond to a variety of security threats at a moment's notice."
The exercise enhances readiness and the ability of U.S. forces to operate in Africa and austere locations.
"The hallmark of professional forces is the quality of their training," said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Lapthe Flora, Combined Joint Task Force -Horn of Africa commander. "It is not enough to train in the U.S. or places we're familiar. We have to get out into the field to really stretch our abilities and see where we need more practice."
Africa poses unique challenges in terms of distance, terrain, environment, and logistics complexity. At more than three times the land area of the U.S., Africa imposes on operations the "tyranny of distance," said Flora.
The assessment team is composed of U.S. Army National Guard units from South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. Their mission within U.S. Africa Command is to support security cooperation, conduct crisis response and contingency operations, and maintain operational access to promote regional stability.