General Townsend engages African leaders at African Land Forces Summit


General Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command, completed a two-day trip to Ethiopia where he attended the closing ceremony of the African Land Forces Summit (ALFS) and met with African senior military leaders.

“Partnerships are key to security and stability in Africa,” said Townsend. “Events like the African Land Forces Summit bring partners together, spark discussion and collaboration, and help generate African-led solutions. Through partnerships we can better counter malign actors while improving security and stability on the continent.”

During his visit, Townsend also met with ‎Lt. Gen‎. ‎Walter Koipaton Raria and Brig. Gen. Abdihamid Mohamed Dirir, land forces commanders of Kenya and Somalia, as well as Gen. Birhanu Jula, Ethiopian Deputy Chief of General Staff. These meetings centered on enhancing collective regional security and countering the terrorist threats in the region.

“Our East African partners face a dangerous and unrelenting terrorist threat,” said Townsend. “Al-Shabaab is the largest and most violent of al-Qaida’s branches worldwide. They have attacked innocent civilians throughout the region and have a desire to attack Americans and U.S. interests in the world. It’s our job to prevent that.”

Additionally, Townsend, accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to the African Union Jessye Lapenn, met with Ambassador Smail Chergui, African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, to bolster relations between U.S. Africa Command and the African Union.

Townsend highlighted the value of the African Union and the contributions it brings to building security throughout Africa.

“African Union and AMISOM contributions to security in East Africa are significant and vital to continued stability and progress in Somalia,” said Townsend. “The support of the European Union for AMISOM is equally vital. Continued stability and progress in Somalia and East Africa is dependent on continued support from the African Union, European Union, and AMISOM partners.”

ALFS is an annual forum designed to bring land force chiefs from across Africa together to forge and strengthen relationships. The Ethiopian National Defense Force partnered with U.S. Army Africa to co-host the summit.