By Magdalene Mukami
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) – Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), concluded visits Thursday to Kenya and Somalia to emphasize the partnership and security between the East African countries and the U.S.
During his two-day trip to East Africa, AFRICOM said Townsend visited the Kenyan Defense Force installation at Manda Bay, where militants from the al-Shabaab terrorist network on Jan. 5 attacked the Kenya-U.S. base, killing three Americans -- U.S. Army Spc. Henry J. Mayfield, Jr. and U.S. contractors Bruce Triplett and Dustin Harrison.
In Kenya, Townsend surveyed the progress of recent security developments at Manda Bay and met with U.S. service members to gain a firsthand account of the attack.
While in Kenya, Townsend thanked the U.S. service members present for their service and highlighted the value of their work alongside “our Kenyan partners” in fighting the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab, terming them “the most kinetically active al-Qaeda-affiliate worldwide.”
Townsend said Kenya and the U.S. “truly understand the danger al-Shabaab poses and why it is important to pursue them.”
Accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto, Townsend also visited several cooperative security locations and met with Somali leaders including Jubaland President Ahmed Mohamed Islam Madobe and Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni to discuss regional efforts to degrade al-Shabaab. Discussions centered on security and fostered continued commitment to enhancing mutual goals of regional stability, security and economic prosperity.
Townsend also called on the international community to focus on eliminating the al-Shabaab threat.
AFRICOM noted that “Townsend’s trip highlights the importance of strengthening longstanding military relationships and building enhanced interoperability between the U.S. military and our East African partners to address malign activity and threats on the continent. It also serves as a reminder of what separates the U.S. from other global powers and the existing competition for partnership in Africa.”
“China and Russia do very little to help Africans combat the brutal terrorist networks plaguing them. Our efforts are not just an investment in the security and stability of Africa but also provide enhanced security for the U.S. homeland,” said Townsend.