By APO Group
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, January 10, 2020/ — Senior U.S. Africa Command officials visited partner forces and U.S. troops stationed at Camp Simba and Manda Bay Airfield, Kenya, Jan 9.
This visit follows the Jan. 5 attack by al-Shabaab militants at the airfield.
“I immediately sent members of my command team to hear directly from our troops and commanders on the ground about the details of the attack by al-Shabaab,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command. “I want ground truth to assess the situation and hear from the troops to ensure they have what they need to accomplish their mission. As the circumstances surrounding this attack are investigated, our deepest condolences remain with the families of our fallen teammates. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten.”
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael Turello, the senior U.S. Africa Command officer on the continent and commander, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), met with U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Leonard Kosinski, U.S. Africa Command director of logistics, in Manda Bay to gain an initial assessment of the situation. Kosinski was accompanied by U.S. Navy Command Master Chief Ryan Burton, acting command senior enlisted leader, along with an investigating officer. Townsend has directed an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the attack by al-Shabaab of the airfield at Manda Bay.
“Al-Shabaab is ruthless and must be dealt with before the network expands its reach to other places, to include their stated desire to strike U.S. citizens on the U.S. homeland,” said Townsend. “This al-Qaida-aligned terrorist network has demonstrated an ability to conduct external attacks previously and will continue to do so unless they are countered where they reside.”
Following the Jan. 5 attack, al-Shabaab continues to spread its hateful ideology, violence, and its desire to control territory. They seek to disrupt security gains and economic development while fostering conditions for fear, recruitment, and expansion.
“Al-Shabaab spreads lies and spills innocent blood,” said Townsend. “I’ve dealt with this type of enemy before. They need to be stopped. Alongside our partners, we are definitely up to the job.”
On Nov. 5, al-Shabaab released a 52-minute video narrated by al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Omar Abu Ubeyda calling for attacks against Americans wherever they are, stating the American public is a legitimate target, and echoing a number of other global jihadist themes observed in Usama Bin Laden historical videos. Al-Shabaab continues to reinforce this narrative after the Jan. 5 attack.
Members of U.S. Africa Command’s East Africa Response Force are deployed to Manda Bay Airfield to augment security. The EARF, comprised of soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, provides an agile, combat-ready response force for U.S. Africa Command.
U.S. Africa Command is working to counter terrorist organizations in East Africa to ensure they are not able to attack the U.S. homeland, international partners, or destabilize the region in this strategic location. The command recognizes that stability will not be achieved through purely military means. The partner forces we work with on a daily basis are creating security conditions to enhance governance and economic development.