General David M Rodriguez, Commander of the US military’s Africa Command, visited Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, this month as part of his first trip to Africa, less than two weeks into command of the American military presence on the continent.
Rodriguez, who took command of Africom at the beginning of April, met with deployed troops and presided over the assumption of command ceremony for Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).
“I appreciate everything you’re doing. This is the only place we have an enduring base on the African continent, so CJTF-HOA is becoming increasingly important,” said the general during an all-hands at Camp Lemonnier.
US Africom’s third commander since inception in 2008, Rodriguez noted that Africa is becoming more and more important.
“Africa and its future are important to our nation and the world,” he said.
As a result of focused, sustained engagement with East African nations in the form of operations, exercises and security co-operation, CJTF-HOA is meeting Africa/US shared security objectives, according to Africom. Rodriguez praised the audience of service members and civilians for its success developing partner-nation relationships that have provided the US the benefit of what he called “small footprint, high pay-off operations”.
“The way Africom, CJTF-HOA and others in Africa have done business over the past years has set the standard for future operations across all combatant commands,” he said.
At the CJTF-HOA assumption of command ceremony on April 18, the US Africom commander reiterated how service members and civilians deployed in support of CJTF-HOA are making a difference in supporting East Africa to build a better future.
“The efforts of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and civilians of CJTF-HOA are critical in supporting the nations of east Africa as they strengthen defence capabilities and regional co-operation,” Rodriguez said.
In the Horn of Africa, CJTF-HOA is US Africom’s operational command and conducts operations in the region to enhance partner-nation capacity, promote regional security and stability, dissuade conflict, and protect US and coalition interests, according to Africom. With approximately 2 000 personnel assigned, CJTF-HOA is headquartered at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the US military’s only enduring location in Africa.
The US military also conducts unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations from Camp Lemonnier and has used its aircraft based in Djibouti to strike targets in Yemen and Somalia and conduct surveillance over the region.
During his time as Africom commander, Rodriguez’ predecessor General Carter F Ham, visited 42 African during 101 trips to the continent, the majority of them from Africom headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.