‘Inconvenient Reality’: AFRICOM Chief Says US Troops Needed in Africa to Fight Al-Qaeda


As the Pentagon weighs withdrawing thousands of US troops from Africa for deployment to other theaters, a leading US commander said the recent al-Shabaab attack on a US airfield in Kenya is proof US Africa Command (AFRICOM) is already short on resources.

In the latest tug of war over US troops, US AFRICOM commander Gen. Stephen Townsend has said the roughly 6,000 US troops and contractors in Africa need more support to carry the fight to Daesh and al-Qaeda affiliates. His comments come as Pentagon leaders consider the benefits of shifting thousands of US troops from Africa to other theaters in order to prepare for confrontation with Russia and China.

An ‘Inconvenient Reality’: Daesh & Al-Shabaab

“We were not as prepared there at Manda Bay as we needed to be,” Townsend told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday about the US airfield near the Kenyan border with Somalia. “Al-Shabab managed to penetrate onto that airfield. They were able to get access, kill three Americans and destroy six aircraft. We are digging into that to find out why that is the case.”

Al-Shabaab, a Somali fundamentalist militant group affiliated with al-Qaeda, staged a pre-dawn attack on the Manda Bay air base and Camp Simba on January 5. The militiamen bombarded the base with mortars before penetrating the perimeter. According to AFRICOM, US and Kenyan troops did not immediately respond to the attack, and US commanders claimed Kenyan soldiers hid in…

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