United States African Command (AFRICOM) generals have arrived in Kenya for ground assessment on the daring Islamist militant, al-Shabaab attack on Manda Bay last week.
According to statement from AFRICOM, Maj. Gen. Michael Turello, the senior U.S. Africa Command and commander Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Leonard Kosinski, also U.S. Africa Command director of logistics, visited partner forces and U.S. troops stationed at Camp Simba and Manda Bay Airfield, Kenya on Thursday.
The visit follows the Jan. 5 deadly attack by al-Shabaab militants at the airfield that killed a US soldier two defense contractors.
AFRICOM Commander, Gen. Stephen Townsend said he sent the two senior military officials to directly hear from the troops on the ground.
“I immediately sent members of my command team to hear directly from our troops and commanders on the ground about the details of the attack by al-Shabaab,” said Gen. Townsend.
Adding: “I want ground truth to assess the situation and hear from the troops to ensure they have what they need to accomplish their mission. As the circumstances surrounding this attack are investigated, our deepest condolences remain with the families of our fallen teammates. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten.”
Maj. Gen. Turello and Brig. Kosinski accompanied by U.S. Navy Command Master Chief Ryan Burton, along with an investigating officer are expected to dig into the facts and circumstances surrounding the attack.
“Al-Shabaab is ruthless and must be dealt with before the network expands its reach to other places, to include their stated desire to strike U.S. citizens on the U.S. homeland. This al-Qaida-aligned terrorist network has demonstrated an ability to conduct external attacks previously and will continue to do so unless they are countered where they reside,” said Townsend.
On November 5 2019, al-Shabaab released a 52-minute video narrated by al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Omar Abu Ubeyda calling for attacks against Americans wherever they are, stating the American public is a legitimate target, and echoing a number of other global jihadist themes observed in Osama Bin Laden historical videos. The January 5th attack is expectedly done in observation of the rhetoric.
Members of U.S. Africa Command’s East Africa Response Force were immediately deployed to Manda Bay Airfield to augment security a day after the attack. The EARF, comprised of soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, provides an agile, combat-ready response force for U.S. Africa Command.