Americas, Africa

US commander concludes East Africa tour

Involved in military ops in Somalia against al-Shabaab since at least 2007, US finalizes troop withdrawal from country

Magdalene Mukami   | 19.01.2021
US commander concludes East Africa tour

MOGADISHU, Somalia

The head of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) on Tuesday concluded a trip to five East African nations and the USS Makin Island, operating off the coast of Somalia.

During the tour, Gen. Stephen Townsend visited the Quartz joint task force overseeing the repositioning of US forces in the region and met "with commanders, forces, and partners in the region."

Under the Quartz joint task force, the US is seeking to withdraw its forces from Somalia, which is suffering attacks by the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab terrorist group.

The Department of Defense said in a statement that President Donald Trump ordered the agency and AFRICOM "to reposition the majority of personnel and assets out of Somalia by early 2021."

"Our strategy in East Africa relies on partnerships, East African and international partners are working toward a secure environment in Africa that enables political and economic development. US Africa Command continues to do its part," said Townsend during the tour.

AFRICOM noted that while in Djibouti and Kenya, Townsend underlined that US forces in East Africa remained poised to respond to threats, deter aggression and support partners, while advancing US and regional security.

"US military forces are trusted and respected by our African partners and help advance mutual interests and security every day," said Sgt. Maj. Richard Thresher, who was accompanying Townsend during the visit.

The US has been involved in military operations against the al-Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia since at least 2007, stepping up airstrikes since early 2017. In June this year, the US military said it conducted 63 strikes in 2019 and at least 40 during the first five months of 2020.

Quoting Mogadishu and the Pentagon, local media in Somalia reported that the US had finalized the withdrawal of its forces from the Horn of Africa country.

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