U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command, concluded a multi-country trip to East Africa on Feb. 17. During his travels, he met with civilian and military leaders in Djibouti, Somalia, and Kenya.
The trip highlighted how U.S. Africa Command conducts its counter-terrorism and crisis response missions in a complex and evolving security environment. The command, along with its regional and international allies, focuses on diplomacy, development and defense to improve partner effectiveness, and advance security, governance and rule of law across the continent.
In Djibouti, Townsend, U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti Jonathan Pratt, and CJTF-HOA commander U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Zana met with Djiboutian Secretary General for Foreign Affairs Mohamed Ali Hassan to discuss ways to continue the strong partnership between Djibouti and the U.S.
Townsend and Command Senior Enlisted Leader, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Richard Thresher also met with members of Task Force Red Dragon, the newly arrived security force battalion from the Virginia Army National Guard and recognized joint service members at Camp Lemonnier, as well as Palehorse Troop, 2nd U.S. Cavalry Regiment as they departed to return to Vilseck, Germany after a short-notice deployment to enhance security at key U.S. facilities in East Africa.
In Mogadishu, Somalia, Townsend and U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Larry André, Jr. met with Somalia Chief of Defense Forces Brig. Gen. Odawa Yusuf Rage to discuss the counterterrorism campaign against al-Shabaab. Townsend and Thresher also visited U.S. service members at forward operating locations at Kismayo and Baledogle Military Airfield.
“Ambassador André has a wealth of experience working with African leaders to develop solutions to complex security challenges,” said Townsend. “AFRICOM’s efforts against al-Shabaab are fully aligned with his diplomatic efforts to support a credible political process for Somalia.”
In Kenya, Townsend and Thresher visited Cooperative Security Location, Manda Bay, to meet with U.S. commanders and forces supporting security and training in the region. Townsend also spoke with Kenyan Chief of Defense Forces General Robert Kibochi.
U.S. Africa Command maintains pressure on malign networks through a balance of operations and engagement with partners on the continent
“Al-Shabaab remains al-Qaida’s largest, wealthiest and most deadly affiliate, responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocents, including Americans,” said Townsend. “Disrupting al-Shabaab’s malign intent requires leadership from Somalis and continued support from Djibouti, Kenya, the U.S. and other members of the international community.”