US, Djibouti leaders discuss partnerships and progress
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM),and J. Alexander Hamilton, Chargé d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy Djibouti, met with Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh and other key Djiboutian officials,in Djibouti City, Djibouti, on June 12.
The leaders discussed the strong, cooperative relationship that exists between the U.S. and the Republic of Djibouti. They also discussed the growth and development of Djiboutian security forces, which the U.S. is actively supporting by providing hands on training in Djibouti.
“The U.S. takes pride in providing unrivaled security assistance support to our Djiboutian partners,” said Waldhauser. “The mutual support we enjoy and our presence in Djibouti has allowed us to provide assistance and support to many Africans, to include those impacted by the devastation of natural disasters to others who face the threat of terror organizations.”
Djibouti is located at a strategic point in the Horn of Africa and is a key U.S. partner on security, regional stability, and humanitarian efforts, as was evident during Cyclone Idai relief operations earlier this year.
“The United States and Djibouti have been strategic partners since the republic’s creation in 1977. A relationship further strengthened when Djibouti’s leadership invited us to establish an enduring military presence here after the attacks on our country on September 11, 2001,” said Hamilton. “Through our strategic, long-term partnership, we contribute toward Djibouti’s continued economic development and further Djibouti’s positive influence in both East Africa and in the Arab world.”
An example of U.S. security assistance in Djibouti is the development of the Rapid Intervention Battalion. AFRICOM forces are in the process of training and equipping the battalion at the request of Djibouti. Training provided by the U.S. includes, but is not limited to, light infantry tactics, weapons training, communication exercises, and additional advanced instruction.
The Djiboutian government has been a long-standing partner of the U.S. and remains committed to degrading violent extremist organizations and their influence in the region.
“AFRICOM’s primary focus on the continent involves building partnerships, relationships and security force capacities,” said Waldhauser. “The U.S. and Djibouti have common national security interests, particularly focused on countering the threat of violent extremism and ensuring stability for our partners.”
Waldhauser further emphasized that the U.S. – Djibouti relationship ensures a safer and more secure Africa, which benefits individuals living in Africa and the international community as a whole.
Djibouti hosts a U.S. military presence at Camp Lemonnier, which serves as the only enduring U.S. military installation in Africa. The camp houses approximately 4,500 U.S. military personnel and contractors and employs more than 1,100 Djiboutians, often contracting with Djiboutian firms. The U.S. military also has access to port facilities and the airport by a bilateral agreement. In addition, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Food for Peace program maintains a warehouse for pre-positioned food assistance commodities in Djibouti, serving as a hub for rapid response in parts of Africa and Asia.