U. S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), accompanied by Command Senior Enlisted Leader, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Richard Thresher, wrapped up a multi-country trip to the East Africa region and Angola, May 11-20.
During his travels, he visited civilian and military leaders in Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Angola. The trip provided U.S. 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.
The first stop of the trip was in Hargeisa, Somalialand, where Townsend and U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Larry E. André, Jr. Hearne met with Muse Bihi Abdi, President of Somaliland to discuss expanded and enriched partnership.
Townsend also traveled to Berbera and Moghadishu, where he met with Somalia Chief of Defense Forces Brig. Gen. Odawa Yusuf Rage and African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) Force Commander, Lt. Gen. 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 Maj. Gen. Bill Zana passed responsibility to Maj. Gen. Jami Shawley.
“I came to Djibouti, the only permanent U.S. 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 U.S. national security interest and no one has been more dedicated to that than Maj. Gen Bill Zana. Bill’s leadership at CJTF-HOA, has been instrumental in achieving U.S. objectives in East Africa and maintaining our superb, long-term relationship with our Djiboutian partners. I’m optimistic for the future as Maj. Gen. 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 U.S. 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 Defense Force Headquarters.
Townsend then traveled to Angola where he accompanied U.S. 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 U.S. to deepen defense 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 U.S. 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.