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US donates armoured vehicles to Djibouti's armed forces

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

DJIBOUTI - As part of efforts to strengthen Djibouti's armed forces, the United States has delivered 54 armored vehicles to the Horn of Africa nation on Saturday.

Known as the Humvee, the vehicles will be used by Rapid Intervention Battalion (RIB) as part of a $31 million train-and-equip partnership between the U.S. government and the Djiboutian military, AFRICOM said.

For decades now, Djibouti has been a major partner of the US in counterterrorism missions, a cooperation that has yielded fruits.

“On behalf of Gen. Zakaria Shiek Ibrahim, chief of staff, Djiboutian Armed Forces, I would like to thank the U.S. government and CJTF-HOA for their support to this battalion,” said Mohamed Assoweh, commander of the RIB.

At the Horn of Africa, Djibouti is strategic to the US's interests especially in the fight against violent extremism across East Africa.

The RIB is an advanced infantry battalion, trained and equipped by the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).

Its primary mission, AFRICOM said, is to train and serve as a quick reaction force to accomplish specified tasks directed by its higher command in the Djiboutian army.

“The Humvees will enable us to facilitate future tasks and missions within the battalion and help us achieve our higher goals and objectives,” said Assoweh.

RIB troops get professional training in infantry tactics, mission and weapons training, first aid and land navigation.

Additionally, the troops get trained in communication exercises, and additional advanced instruction by U.S. Army soldiers from Task Force Guardian, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

“The delivery of these Humvees offers the RIB a new motorized capability that they previously did not have,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Adrian Lopez.

This, the military officials added "will enable a faster response time if the RIB is called to action by the Djiboutian government."

Prior to the delivery of the vehicles, the 492nd Engineering Company repaired approximately three miles of road to the RIB compound over the course of four days after record storms in Djibouti in early November.

“The roads to the RIB were severely degraded and extremely difficult to travel on," said Lopez.

“If the engineers didn’t improve the road, this delivery could not have happened, so a huge thanks to them for helping make this possible.”

The United States has heavily invested in the allied military in Africa both financially and through donations of sophisticated weapons.

State Department in November last year observed that the mission in counterterrorism had succeeded in Djibouti, with the country recording few cases of terror attacks.

Saturday's donations come barely a week after the US military base was raided at Camp Simba in Kenya by Al-Shabaab militants.

Three US citizens were killed. Further, the militants destroyed six aircraft used by the US military to train their KDF counterparts in Kenya.

But AFRICOM Commander General Stephen Townsend said, "we are assessing the situation to establish the truth."

Al-Shabaab militants have caused havoc in East Africa, frustrating efforts by Somalia to establish a popular government in the process.

Over 500 elite troops from the United States Army are stationed in Somalia where they offer training and logistical support to SNA.