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European and U.S. boots in the Horn of Africa: Djibouti becoming regionĀ“s garrison town.

African Security News.- Camp-Lemonnier-Djibouti

African Security News.- Camp-Lemonnier-Djibouti

Washington has been building up a large military base in Djibouti and training regional armies to fight al-Shabab in Somalia.

Once a French Colony and base of the Foreign Legion, Djibouti opened its borders to U.S. who now leased a military base from the east african nation.


From Djibouti , the U.S. helicopters and rows of other US aircraft are equipped for long-range missions, some covert, some more conventional.


The Pentagon’s recently created East Africa Response Force (EARF) is here. Its soldiers flew at short notice to South Sudan in December to protect the US embassy and its staff, a lesson learnt from the catastrophic attack on the poorly defended US consulate in Benghazi.

However, the Horn of Africa region is hardly a success story when it comes to security. Al-Shabab in Somalia have become proficient in laying roadside bombs and have launched attacks beyond their borders in Kenya and Uganda, while al-Qaeda in Yemen has three times succeeded in getting explosive devices on board international flights.

The Pentagon’s aim is to get East African partners in the region to take on the burden of defeating al-Shabab and to actually neutralise violent extremists throughout eastern Africa.

The French still maintain a major base here with over 2,000 servicemen and women, their Mirage fighter jets thundering down the runway shared with the civilian international airport.


The Germans, Italians and Japanese are all here, conducting counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and beyond.

But the biggest presence by far is American – there are more than 4,000 people on the base at Camp Lemonnier.