U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, center, commander of U.S. Africa Command, watches a demonstration by soldiers assigned to the Rapid Intervention Battalion, the Djiboutian army’s elite military force, during a visit with senior Djiboutian officials, including Chief of General Staff of the Djibouti Armed Forces Zakaria Cheik Ibrahim, at a training base in Djibouti, March 21, 2019. Waldhauser visited in order to discuss the growth and development of Djiboutian security forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amy Picard)

Top Gen, Guelleh Discuss U.S.-Djibouti Partnerships

ADDIS ABEBA –  Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), met with Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh to discuss U.S.-Djibouti partnerships.

In a meeting held at Djibouti city on Thursday,  the leaders discussed the strong, cooperative relationship that exists between two nations, said Africom in a statement.

The two sides 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.”

The east African nation is a key U.S. partner on security and humanitarian efforts, as was evident during Cyclone Idai relief operations earlier this year.

Alexander Hamilton, Chargé d’Affaires of U.S. Embassy Djibouti, said, “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, according to Africom. Africom forces are in the process of training and equipping the battalion at the request of Djibouti.

“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 said.

He 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.