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US Deploys “Combat Ready” Force in Kenya

The United States African Command has deployed undisclosed number of combat ready marines in Kenya after a deadly al-Shabaab attack which claimed the life of three Americans including a soldier.

The Director of Operations, US Africa Command, Maj. Gen. William Gayler announced in a statement on Monday that the U.S. Africa Command’s East Africa Response Force (EARF) arrived at Manda Bay, Kenya, Jan. 5, to augment security to secure the airfield just a day after the attack.

Al-Shabaab, a Washington designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, attacked the joint US and Kenya Defense Force Military Base in Manda Bay, Kenya, early Sunday morning.

“The EARF provides a critical combat-ready, rapid deployment force. The EARF’s ability to respond to events spanning a vast area of responsibility provides a proven and invaluable on-call reinforcement capability in times of need,” said Maj. Gen. Gayler.

EARF which is under the command and control of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) responds to a broad range of military operations including the protection of U.S. citizens and diplomatic facilities, support for non-combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations, other missions as directed.

CJTF-HOA consists of about 2,000 servicemen and women from the United States military and allied countries. Currently, the task force has an assigned area of interest that includes Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Seychelles and Kenya. Outside this Combined Joint Operating Area, the CJTF-HOA has operations in Uganda, Mauritius, Comoros, Liberia, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The Saturday morning attack, which lasted for several hours when the daring al-Shabaab fighters gained access to the US army critical facility, resulted to the destruction of 6 military planes and vehicles.

Manda Bay, according to several defense reports, has 200 soldiers. The number of addition from, probably from AFROCOM headquarters, Camp Lemonier in Djibouti remains unknown.

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Pentagon pronounced that the attack is not linked to the current US tension with Iran, after the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleiman.

“Contrary to various open source reports, U.S. Africa Command does not assess yesterday’s attack by al-Shabaab is linked to Iran,” added the statement.

The statement however quickly added that even if Iranian involvement is not suspected in the attack, U.S. Africa Command has observed other nations, including Iran, seeking to increase influence in the Horn of Africa.

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