Townsend wraps up East Africa trip after US troops exit from Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Stephen Townsend, the commander, U.S. Africa Command, wrapped up a five-day visit to East Africa, which included stops in Djibouti, Somalia, and Kenya as well as to the USS Makin Island (LHD 8), operating off the coast of Somalia. Townsend was accompanied by the Command Senior Enlisted Leader, Sgt. Maj. Richard Thresher.
The trip, which was Townsend’s first visit to the African continent in 2021, demonstrated U.S. Africa Command’s commitment to East African partners and provided the commander with the opportunity to visit Joint Task Force – Quartz, the organization tasked with overseeing the repositioning of U.S. forces while meeting with commanders, forces, and partners in the region.
"Our strategy in East Africa relies on partnerships,” Townsend said. “East African and international partners are working toward a secure environment in Africa that enables political and economic development. U.S. Africa Command continues to do its part."
Africa faces threats from terrorist groups such as the Al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab. It has also emerged as a front for global power competition where both China and Russia are using aggressive diplomatic, economic and military means to expand their access and influence.
While in Djibouti and Kenya, Townsend and Thresher recognized U.S. forces in the region and the effect their actions have on mission success in East Africa, underscoring that U.S. forces in East Africa remain poised to respond to threats, deter aggression, and support partners while advancing the U.S. and regional security.
“U.S. Africa Command assists, supports, and strengthens partnerships and security in Africa. Our professional U.S. military forces are trusted and respected by our African partners and help advance mutual interests and security every day,” said Thresher. “We take pride in this critical mission for America.”
Thresher’s participation on the trip highlighted the emphasis on the need for professional, well trained enlisted corps for partner forces and how it is foundational for any nation’s military success. He recognized U.S. forces and spoke with Somali military leadership about training possibilities. U.S. Africa Command training continues to remain a competitive advantage in an era of global competition.
His trip also coincided with the withdrawal of troops from America and subsequent deployment to various countries in East Africa. The US has been responsible for training and equipping the Somali National Army, by specifically working closely with Danab Special Forces.
Even with the exit from Somalia, the US has been working closely with the Somali National Army and have launched close to six airstrikes since the beginning of 2021. It's not clear if the troops will be brought back following the change of guard in the United States of America.