“Enemy achieved a degree of success in its attack” – Africom on al-Shabaab airfield attack


In the early hours of 5 January, al-Shabaab attacked a Kenyan Defence Force Military Base (Camp Simba) in Manda Bay, Kenya, killing US Army Specialist Henry Mayfield and two US contractors, Bruce Triplett and Dustin Harrison.

The attack began with al-Shabaab initiating mortar fire on Camp Simba while simultaneously assaulting the Manda Bay airfield in northeast Kenya, destroying five fixed and rotary aircraft as well as damaging another.

The US Africa Command have released an update on the investigation into the attack, stating that, “The tragic loss of these brave Americans and the damage and destruction to aircraft demonstrates the enemy achieved a degree of success in its attack.”

One of the aircraft destroyed in the attack was a highly modified Bombardier Dash 8 STAMP surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft which was apparently being used to track down terrorists in the region. The US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), under its SOCOM Tactical Airborne Multi-Sensor Platforms (STAMP) programme, operates two of the Dash 8s and three King Air B300 aircraft.

“US forces are primarily located at Camp Simba, about one mile from the airfield. Shortly after the attack began, US forces at Camp Simba quickly responded and actively counterattacked the enemy at the airfield”, said the US Africa Command (Africom).

US forces and Kenyan Defence Forces repelled the attack, killing five al-Shabaab terrorists. US Africa Command is estimating that the attack was carried out by several dozen al-Shabaab fighters.

“The attack at Manda Bay demonstrates that al-Shabaab remains a dangerous and capable enemy,” said US Africa Command commander, US Army General Stephen Townsend. “They are a menace to the people of East Africa and US national interests there and their sights are set on eventually attacking the US homeland. It is important that we continue to pursue al-Shabaab and prevent their vision from becoming a reality.”

A senior-leader-led Army 15-6 investigation, launched by the US Africa Command, is currently looking into the facts and circumstances surrounding the attack, which is one of five al-Shabaab attacks in Kenya that has left scores of Kenyans and foreigners dead in the past three weeks. Full findings of the investigation will be released following family and Department of Defence notification.

The US Africa Command concluded in stating, “Increased force protection measures have been put into place and US Africa Command will pursue the attackers until they are brought to justice.”