Africom chief visits East Africa and Angola to advance mutual security interests


US Army General Stephen Townsend, commander, US Africa Command, has wrapped up a multi-country trip to the East Africa region and Angola.

During his travels between 11 and 20 May, he visited civilian and military leaders in Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Angola. The trip provided US Africa Command leaders the opportunity to meet with civilian and military leaders in each nation to underscore the importance of partnership to confronting regional threats and achieving shared security goals, Africom said.

The first stop of the trip was in Hargeisa, Somalialand, where Townsend and US Ambassador to Somalia Larry André, Jr. Hearne met with Muse Bihi Abdi, President of Somaliland to discuss expanded and enriched partnership.

Townsend also travelled to Berbera and Mogadishu, where he met with Somalia Chief of Defence Forces Brigadier General Odawa Yusuf Rage and African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) Force Commander, Lieutenant General Diomede Ndegeya. Townsend also conducted a routine battlefield circulation and recognized joint service members at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

In Djibouti, Townsend presided over the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) change of command ceremony where Major General Bill Zana passed responsibility to Major General Jami Shawley.

“I came to Djibouti, the only permanent US base in Africa, to change command of CJTF-Horn of Africa from one great leader to another,” Townsend said. “Stability and security in East Africa is an important US national security interest and no one has been more dedicated to that than Major General Bill Zana. Bill’s leadership at CJTF-HOA, has been instrumental in achieving US objectives in East Africa and maintaining our superb, long-term relationship with our Djiboutian partners. I’m optimistic for the future as Major General Jami Shawley assumes command of CJTF-HOA. I know she will continue our mission to maintain pressure on terrorists and other malign actors in this region and continue to engage with our African and international partners who are so critical to our collective success.”

In Kenya, Townsend and US Chargé d’Affaires to Kenya Eric W Kneedler met with Kenyan President Uruhu Kenyatta to discuss mutual security concerns and to express appreciation to Kenya for its continued leadership and collaboration on regional security. Townsend and Kneedler also participated in a pass and review at the Kenyan Defence Force Headquarters.

Townsend then travelled to Angola where he accompanied US Ambassador to Angola Tulinabo S Mushingi during a meeting with Angolan President João Lourenço. This marked Townsend’s first trip to Angola, which signed an agreement five years ago with the US to deepen defence cooperation. During his visit, the leaders’ conversations sharpened focus on mutual security concerns, and Townsend expressed appreciation for the opportunity to find additional ways to strengthen the relationship with Angola.

Townsend’s final stop on the trip was to Rwanda, where he and US Chargé d’Affaires to Rwanda Deb MacLean met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Townsend expressed appreciation for Rwanda’s long-standing partnership with the United States, to include the long-standing cooperation with the state partnership program between Rwanda and the Nebraska National Guard, as a demonstration of Rwanda’s vision for a stable, security and prosperous Africa.