AFRICOM commander meets with Djiboutian leaders


DJIBOUTI, Djibouti – U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command, met with Ismail Omar Guelleh, president of the Republic of Djibouti, and other senior leaders of the East African nation this week. This was Townsend’s first trip abroad since the coronavirus pandemic unfolded.

“Djibouti is a key partner, and we continue to work to strengthen our enduring partnership,” said Townsend. “Alongside other AMISOM partners, Djiboutian forces have shown their leadership by supporting the fight against al-Shabaab in Somalia.”

Djibouti has about 1,800 troops serving in Somalia as part of AMISOM.

Townsend recognized Djibouti’s successful COVID-19 response and congratulated President Guelleh for his nation’s feat in containing the pandemic spread.

“Djibouti’s effective response to the COVID pandemic is a model for other nations, particularly in Africa,” said Townsend. “We are looking to help our Djiboutian partners by delivering critically needed medical equipment and supplies.”

Multiple Department of Defense-funded humanitarian projects to include the delivery of COVID hygiene kits, beds, personal protective equipment, and laboratory supplies are slated for delivery to the government of Djibouti this month.

The U.S. delegation thanked the government of Djibouti for its support of critical and continued U.S. Africa Command logistics missions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Townsend also participated in a U.S.-Djibouti senior leader roundtable following the Change of Command at the Combined-Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), Camp Lemonnier. The roundtable included Djiboutian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, Minister of Defense Hassan Omar Mohamed Bourhan, and the Armed Forces of Djibouti Headquarters Chief of Staff, BG Taher Ali Mohamed.

Djiboutian leaders thanked U.S. Africa Command leadership for the continued training and equipping of the Rapid Intervention Battalion. The RIB is the Djiboutian army’s elite military force, which the U.S. is in the process of training and equipping at the request of the Djiboutian government.

Several U.S. leaders also took part in the roundtable, including U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti, Larry E. André; U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Lapthe C. Flora, commander of CJTF-HOA; and U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Damian T. Donahoe, deputy commander of CJTF-HOA.

While in Djibouti, Townsend also met with service members from CJTF-HOA’s East Africa Response Force. The EARF provides a combat-ready rapid deployment capability to support crises operations in the U.S. Africa Command Area of Responsibility.