Department of Defense Press Briefing on U.S. Africa Command Investigation of Jan. 5, 2020, Al-Shabaab Attack at the Cooperative Security Location in Manda Bay, Kenya
March 10, 2022
PRESS SECRETARY JOHN F. KIRBY: OK. Good afternoon, everybody. And thanks for joining here. Today we’ve got a special purpose briefing on tap for you. We’re here to brief you on the results of the U.S. Africa Command’s Army Regulation (AR) 15-6 investigation, and the independent review that Secretary Austin directed of the January 5th, 2020, attack on Cooperative Security Location Manda Bay in Kenya. Secretary Austin’s intent for the independent review was to provide added insight, perspective, and the ability to assess the totality of this event involving multiple military services and Department of Defense components. The secretary has accepted the findings and recommendations of the independent review.
Since 2018, U.S. Air Forces Africa have been responsible for the synchronization of base support functions including force protection at Manda Bay. As a result of the findings of the investigation and the independent review, the Air Force took action to address accountability recommendations. I think you have a statement now from the Air Force about those accountability recommendations. And I would direct any of your questions about that directly to the Air Force.
GENERAL STEPHEN TOWNSEND: Good afternoon. I’m General Steve Townsend, the Commander of U.S. Africa Command, also known as AFRICOM. We’re here today to formally brief the results of the investigation I directed into the January 5th, 2020 attack by Al-Shabaab on Cooperative Security Location, or CSL, Manda Bay, Kenya, that claimed the lives of a U.S. soldier and two U.S. contractors and injured two other U.S. service members, a U.S. contractor, and a Kenyan soldier.
We honor the bravery and ultimate sacrifice of U.S. Army Specialist Henry J. Mayfield Jr., Mr. Bruce Triplett, and Mr. Dustin Harrison. They are heroes. It is a solemn duty to provide their families and the American people with answers about what happened that day. There are no words that could take away from their loss.
You will also hear about the results of the Secretary of Defense-directed independent review of our investigation, which was conducted by U.S. Army General Paul Funk.
USAFRICOM took our investigation seriously and it’s taken extensive steps since the attack to make CSL Manda Bay and all of our operating locations across Africa more secure. I found the investigation team’s work to be comprehensive, credible and thorough.
The independent review conducted by General Funk and his team validated that extensive work. All recommendations from the USAFRICOM investigation have been implemented, some in the hours and days immediately after the attack and others over the following months. We are also well along in implementing the recommendations from the independent review.
At 5:20 a.m. on January 5th, 2020, a ruthless and determined enemy force of approximately 30 to 40 al-Shabaab fighters conducted a complex attack against U.S. forces and assets at Manda Bay, Kenya. In a few short minutes, the attacking enemy inflicted casualties and destroyed seven contracted light aircraft and other property before they were effectively engaged by U.S. and Kenyan forces and forced to withdraw over the loss of at least six enemy killed.
The investigation determined the approximate cause of the loss of lives and materiel was the attack by a mass force of determined, disciplined, and well-resourced al-Shabaab fighters. The investigation also identified four broad factors that contributed to the outcome of the attack and the result of losses.
First, an inadequate focus on potential threats and force protection at multiple levels. For a number of successive years, there was complacent leadership in command and control at the tactical level and poor oversight at the operational level.
Second, there was an inadequate understanding of the true threat to the base at Manda Bay that had been perpetuated by years of local threat assessments. There were also shortcomings identified in the resourcing, sharing and dissemination of intelligence.
Third, there were deficiencies in the organization, preparation and training of security forces, which contributed to inadequate defensive plans.
Fourth, there were problems with mission command, including poor unity of command at the tactical level and flawed staff processes that failed to account for the growth of CSL Manda Bay from a training base to a counter-terrorism support and air base.
As I said in March 2020, we were not as prepared at Manda Bay as we needed to be. Security on a key part of the base proved inadequate with a security force that was insufficiently prepared for their mission.
USAFRICOM has implemented a series of measures to address the shortfalls uncovered during this investigation and the independent review. These include adjustments to training, operations, threat assessments, leadership and force protection practices.
We are grateful to our Kenyan Defense Force partners who responded quickly and bravely to help fight off the terrorists who attacked Magogoni Airfield. The quick thinking, swift action and bravery of U.S. Marines and airmen, first responders, in concert with the Kenyan Armed Forces, was critical to containing and ultimately repelling this attack.
Service in parts of Africa can be challenging, even dangerous at times. The threat from al-Shabaab remains dangerous and real. Al-Shabaab is the largest and most lethal arm of al-Qaeda, an enemy America knows all too well for its ambitions and appetite for destruction.
What we do with our African and international partners to counter violent extremism in Africa is more important than ever. We hold a responsibility to Specialist Mayfield, Mr. Triplett, and Mr. Harrison, to work every day to learn from this tragic event and to keep an attack like this from happening again.
I will personally remember these three brave Americans and their families. We honor their legacies and their sacrifice by faithfully implementing the lessons we have learned from this attack, not only at Manda Bay but across Africa, as we continue the fight they were supporting.
With that, I’ll turn it over to the team who will provide you with a more detailed brief and take your questions. Thank you.
GENERAL PAUL FUNK: Good afternoon. I’m General Paul Funk, the Commander of the United States Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak with you today and I thank you all for being here.
As you’ve just heard from General Steve Townsend, United States Africa Command conducted an extensive investigation into every aspect of the January 5th, 2020 attack on Cooperative Security Location Manda Bay, Kenya and the resulted deaths of three patriots who were in valiant service to our nation.
The Secretary of Defense tasked the independent review to assess the entire U.S. AFRICOM investigation, to include if the pre-deployment training and the assignment process for the U.S. persons assigned to Manda Bay were appropriate for the mission. The Secretary of the Army then added additional focus areas by directing the independent review to address whether the actions or inactions of leaders and staff contributed to a poor understanding of the threat and an inadequate force protection posture; whether the findings from the original investigation of no criminal negligence or other misconduct by the U.S. personnel were consistent with the evidence; and whether further investigation was warranted concerning potential organizational and institutional issues.
So we began a thorough review of the complete U.S. AFRICOM investigation. I should note, my independent review benefited from a vast amount of additional information that was not available during the original investigation, such as a U.S. Air Force’s Africa investigation that had already begun, documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, as well as multiple responses US AFRICOM provided in response to our queries.
Our review was comprehensive, and I hope that the attention to detail we applied demonstrates to you the importance with which the secretary of defense, the secretary of the army and I addressed this undertaking. We lost three Americans who were willing to serve in an austere and dangerous location. Every member of my dedicated review team was committed to getting this right.
Fundamentally, I found that the U.S. AFRICOM investigation was thorough, detailed and supported by the evidence. I concurred that the proximate cause of the death of three U.S. citizens, injuries to three other U.S. citizens and the loss of U.S. aircraft and property was the attack by a massed force of determined, disciplined and well-resourced al-Shabaab fighters. No single point of failure directly caused the loss of life and damage to the property at Manda Bay.
As General Townsend noted, his investigation identified four causal factors that contributed to the outcome of the attack. I concurred with these causal factors.
Major General Tom Wilcox, a senior member of my review team, will provide additional details about the independent review for you today. Both General Townsend’s investigation and my review found that neither criminal negligence nor misconduct by any U.S. personnel was the proximate cause of loss of life or property at Cooperative Security Location, Manda Bay.
But because the charter of the independent review resulted in a more in-depth analysis of individual leader actions, I was able to identify multiple personnel whom I deemed negligent in their actions or inactions, which contributed to creating a vulnerable airfield.
I submitted all of my findings and recommendations to the Secretary of Defense, and thanks to the hard work of the panel, I found no further investigation was necessary.
GEN. BASHAM: Thank you. Good afternoon. I’m Lieutenant General Steven Basham, the deputy commander of the United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces in Africa. I am speaking to you from Ramstein Air Base, Germany and representing United States Africa Command.
Building upon General Townsend’s and General Funk’s remarks, I will describe the attack on Manda Bay, the findings of the AFRICOM Army Regulation 15-6 investigation and the corrective action taken by AFRICOM and its subordinate commands. Following my comments, Major General Thomas Wilcox will provide additional insight into the independent review. He will be followed by Brigadier General Roy Collins, who will speak to the U.S. Air Force Security Forces training.
As you heard from General Townsend, on January 5th, 2020 at 5:20 local, a well-prepared team of about 30 to 40 Al-Shabaab fighters conducted a complex attack against secure — Cooperative Security Location, Manda Bay, Kenya. Cooperative Security Location, or CSL, Manda Bay is comprised of three main parts: the Kenya Naval Base, Manda Bay, which encompasses U.S. Camp Simba as a base within a base, and the nearby Magogoni Airfield, located about one mile south of Camp Simba.
That morning, al-Shabaab members conducted near-simultaneous attacks at both Camp Simba, which is where U.S. forces are housed and most work, and the nearby airfield. Al-Shabaab members initially fired 10 mortar rounds at Camp Simba, which caused only slight damage to the facility and no casualties. It is assessed that the attack on Camp Simba was designed to distract personnel and delay U.S. response to the main attack location of Magogoni Airfield.
At the airfield, while the attack was starting at Camp Simba, two U.S. service members were driving along the runway in a small truck clearing the runway of animals and other hazards to allow a King Air B-350 aircraft to depart safely.
During the routine early morning clearing process, the service-members saw thermal images through a handheld scope, which they initially thought were hyenas. As they approached to better identify the images, they realized too late that they had actually identified a group of al-Shabaab fighters hiding in the vegetation. The al-Shabaab fighters fired two rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs, at the service-members in the truck. The first RPG penetrated the front windshield but did not explode. And one service-member quickly escaped from the vehicle. The second RPG penetrated the driver side door a moment later. And this device detonated and killed Specialist Henry Mayfield instantly.
Next the fighters engaged the aircraft with RPG and small arms fire as it was beginning its takeoff run. The plane caught fire and the pilots, Mr. Dustin Harrison and Mr. Bruce Triplett were killed. The aircraft came to rest on the side of the runway and it was assessed that the pilots purposely steered the aircraft off the runway to keep it free for future operations. A third contractor who was in the back was able to escape the burning aircraft. The contractor ran to meet up with other maintenance contractors in a nearby hangar and they drove to Camp Simba.
In addition to killing three U.S. personnel, the fighters also destroyed six U.S. aircraft, one Kenyan aircraft, several vehicles, and other property during the first few minutes of the attack. U.S. and Kenyan forces engaged the fighters for several hours until they initially eventually cleared the airfield and the East African Response Force arrived.
Further detail on the attack are included in the redacted AFRICOM Army Regulation 15-6. And I will continue — I will discuss the findings with you. But before I move to the findings, I want to emphasize the importance and bravery of the Kenyan Defense Force personnel through the events of January 5, 2020. Kenyan forces engaged al-Shabaab both side-by-side with U.S. personnel and independently. A Kenyan helicopter provided close air support to suppress al-Shabaab fighters. And a separate Kenyan helicopter transported a wounded member to a civilian airport for evacuation. Without question, the swift, skillful, and courageous response of the Kenyan Defense Force saved many lives that day. We are grateful for the strong relationship we have with these partners in Kenya, and especially for the bravery and skill they demonstrated that day.
Now to the findings. The AFRICOM investigation found that the proximate cause of death, injury, and property damage was the attack itself by a massed force of determined, disciplined, and well-resourced al-Shabaab fighters. No one act or omission by the U.S. personnel would have avoided the attack. However, the investigation also identified four causal factors which contributed to the outcome of the attack. These findings are binned into four main categories: inadequate force protection focus; inadequate understanding of the threat; inadequate security force preparation; and problems with mission command.
Following the attack, AFRICOM directed subordinate component commands to implement the following corrective actions at all locations on the continent, not just Manda Bay — prioritize physical defense improvements, conduct more frequent (inaudible) visits and security inspections, enhance intelligence sharing, increase the size of security forces and adapt their focus and capability according to the threat at the location, include defensive plans in pre-deployment training, ensure clear command and control relationships especially regarding force protection, and employ mobile surgical teams.
Specific to Manda Bay, the improvements include clearing vegetation around Magogoni Airfield to improve fields of observation, establish 360 degree defense at the airfield, improving defenses, fighting positions and indirect fire protection at Camp Simba, increasing Kenya participation in security operations, increasing frequency and range of patrols, and improving communications, function and capability at the base defense operations center.
We continue to mourn the losses of Specialist Henry Mitch Mayfield, Mr. Dustin Harrison, and Mr. Bruce Triplett. Their memory remains strong and in the forefront of our minds as we continue to enhance security at Manda Bay and across the continent.
These tragic losses served as a catalyst for significant improvement to force protection, intelligence sharing, security force preparation, and mission command for U.S. forces across Africa. As we counter ongoing threats from violent extremist organizations, these improvements will better protect our service members.
This concludes my remarks. I will now turn the podium over to Major General Wilcox.
GEN. WILCOX: Good afternoon and thank everybody — thank you for being here today. I’m Major General Tom Wilcox and I was appointed, along with other officers and non-commissioned officers from across the services, to assist General Funk with an independent review of U.S. Africa Command’s investigation into the attack at Cooperative Security Location Manda Bay. I appreciate the opportunity to be chosen to assist General Funk in his efforts and to be here today to share with you the key findings and recommendations from his independent review.
I should note that before the independent review was directed, I was appointed to investigate aspects of the attack at Manda Bay by AFRICOM’s Air Component Commander. That investigation was stopped when the independent review began but not before I was able to walk the ground at Manda Bay, which definitely helped us during the review.
The independent review first focused on understanding the facts, findings, exhibits and supporting documents included in the original investigation. After exhaustive efforts by the independent review team, we concurred with the investigation on every significant issue.
However, as General Funk explained, we benefitted from a great amount of additional information not available at the time AFRICOM conducted its investigation, and we were able to expand on the four broad categories identified in the original investigation that contributed to the outcome of the attack.
Some highlights include, for force protection, the independent review found that there was an unacceptably long process in time for the planning, approval and execution of force protection projects. The review recommended that more frequent reviews and rehearsals of force protection measures and base defense plans occur and that higher headquarters increase their oversight of force protection issues.
Looking at intelligence, resourcing and structuring, the independent review found that there was not a comprehensive analysis of threat information for Manda Bay and that insufficient resourcing and sharing of intelligence was an issue.
This led to a recommendation that a holistic review of the intelligence architecture be conducted to ensure appropriate intelligence staffing, resourcing and sharing of threat information.
On security forces preparation and training, pre-deployment training, collective training, and overall readiness were found to be insufficient, as was the tactical response of the security forces personnel at Manda Bay, which leads back to some — into that intelligence piece that I talked about of getting the threat right. The review recommended restructuring pre-deployment training and certification to take advantage of collective training, rehearsals, and an in-theater training.
Then, for mission command, it was found that flawed operational processes and inadequate command and control at the tactical level contributed to the outcome of the attack. Additionally, it was recommended that a single commander be given authority over the joint operating area where Manda Bay was located, to include oversight of force protection, intelligence, training, and other responsibilities.
Beyond the overarching review of the initial inquiry, General Funk was also directed to answer specific questions during the independent review concerning pre-deployment training, the personal — personnel assignment process, and whether the initial investigation of no negligence or misconduct was appropriate — it — whether the initial investigation’s finding of no negligence or misconduct was appropriate, both at lower levels and for more senior leaders.
In short, the independent review found that certain personnel at Manda Bay and its higher headquarters were negligent in performing their duties. The review also found that certain senior officers contributed to the inadequate force protection posture at Manda Bay, and to some extent, allowed a climate of complacency and poor understanding of the threat.
In the end, though, while some individuals could and should have done better, the negligence of the individuals identified in the review was not the cause of the losses suffered in the attack, although it may have made the airfield more vulnerable. The independent review also reconfirmed the bravery and heroism of dozens of outstanding service members, civilians and Kenyan forces.
Like others speaking today, I, too, extend my sincere condolences to the families of those Americans who lost their lives in this attack.
We are all encouraged by the improvements that have been made by AFRICOM and the Air Force as a result of this event. Lieutenant General Basham discussed many of those already and I will now be followed by Brigadier General Roy Collins, who will discuss some others. Thank you.
BRIGADIER GENERAL ROY COLLINS: Thank you, sir. Good afternoon. I’m Brigadier General Roy Collins, Air Force Director of Security Forces. The Department of Defense investigation findings from the 5 January 2020 attack at Cooperative Security Location Manda Bay drove the need for enhanced security forces training scenarios and a modification of pre-deployment preparation in order to support U.S. AFRICOM’s current force protection threat. Based on the tactical training deficiencies identified in the investigation, our regional training center develop a robust, mission-focused rehearsal training course designed to close the gaps identified with collective training, team cohesion and leadership, core skill training, rehearsals, battle drills and mission preparation. Additionally, the need existed to develop tailored complex attack scenarios informed by real-world threat information to ensure a relevant, hard and realistic training environment existed for our defenders.
Prior to the rehearsal training course completion, aggregated security forces members must complete a culminating capstone field training event to ensure deploying forces are mission-ready. The rehearsal training course greatly exceeds the previous pre-deployment courses, and focuses on providing the base defense mindset and force protection posture needed to operate in a hostile environment, while at the same time, ensuring the highest level of protection for our personnel and our resources, no matter where they are planning.
The updated rehearsal training course was implemented in fall of 2020, and all follow-on forces into the U.S. AFRICOM AOR are now receiving this training. Follow the establishment and the execution of this course, as a member of a joint team, we conducted an on-the-ground assessment of the deployed forces within the U.S. AFRICOM AOR to validate the training met the force protection required standards.
In closing, the response to the findings generated a security forces, enterprise-wide review that ensured pre-deployment training was revamped, collective training was being conducted prior to deployment and in theater and ensured training and preparation is tailored to the deployed locations’ threat.
10 March 2022
10 April 2021: 4-star Reviewer Appointment on Manda Bay Investigation
The Secretary of Defense has completed an initial review of U.S. Africa Command’s (USAFRICOM’s) Army Regulation (AR) 15-6 investigation into the January 5, 2020, al-Shabaab attack on Cooperative Security Location Manda Bay, Kenya. After considering the investigation report, Secretary Austin directed the Acting Secretary of the Army to appoint a four-star general officer to conduct an independent review of the USAFRICOM investigation (and any ongoing inquiries or investigations of USAFRICOM’s subordinate commands); to direct any further investigation that he or she deems appropriate, if any; and to serve as the Consolidated Disposition Authority (CDA) for any appropriate disciplinary actions related to the attack. The Acting Secretary of the Army appointed U.S. Army General Paul Funk, the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), to conduct the review.
We continue to offer our condolences to the family members of the three brave Americans who were killed during this attack.
An independent review will provide added insight, perspective, and the ability to assess the totality of this tragic event involving multiple Military Services and Department of Defense components.
It is the Secretary’s desire to ensure there is a full examination and consideration of the contributing factors that led to this tragic event and that appropriate action is taken to reduce the risk of future occurrence. The families impacted deserve nothing less.
The review is welcomed by USAFRICOM as they continue to work across the African continent to improve security and implement lessons learned from this attack.
Until this review is completed, we will not make any public announcements about the findings of the USAFRICOM investigation and GEN Funk’s review. We will provide updates to the family members impacted by this tragic attack and will ensure that Congress is appropriately informed when the review is completed.
UPDATE 6 January
U.S. Africa Command’s East Africa Response Force (EARF) arrived at Manda Bay, Kenya, Jan. 5, to augment security to secure the airfield after an attack by al-Shabaab terrorists.
Al-Shabaab, a U.S. Government designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, attacked the Kenya Defense Force Military Base in Manda Bay, Kenya, early Sunday morning.
“The EARF provides a critical combat-ready, rapid deployment force,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, director of operations, U.S. Africa Command. “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.”
The EARF, under the command and control of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, 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, and other missions as directed.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack and was also responsible for the December 28 attack against innocent civilians in Mogadishu, Somalia, claiming more than 80 lives.
Contrary to various open source reports, U.S. Africa Command does not assess yesterday’s attack by al-Shabaab is linked to Iran.
UPDATE 5 Jan : U.S. Statement on Manda Bay Terrorist Attack During an attack by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida group in East Africa, earlier today, one (1) U.S. service member and two (2) Department of Defense contractors were killed at a Kenya Defense Force Military Base in Manda Bay, Kenya.By U.S. AFRICA COMMAND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, United States Africa Command Stuttgart, Germany Jan 05, 2020
During an attack by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida group in East Africa one (1) U.S. service member and two (2) Department of Defense contractors were killed at a Kenya Defense Force Military Base in Manda Bay, Kenya.
In addition, two (2) Department of Defense members were wounded. The wounded Americans are currently in stable condition and being evacuated.
Multiple sources within the Marine Raider community told Marine Corps Times that about a dozen Marines from 3rd Marine Raider Battalion, based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, led Kenyan commandos against the Islamic militants, Marinecorps times reported 22 Jan 2020.
NYT via Task and Purpose also confirmed that the Marine Raiders l assigned to the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion rushed to the scene, although the distance they had to travel gave insurgents plenty of time to continue their attack then quickly disperse. The group had to travel from nearby Camp Simba about a mile away to lead the counterattack against the al Shabaab insurgents.
Kenya MOD reported the day after the attack that Multi-agency Forces engaged and successfully repulsed an attempted terrorist breach of Manda Air Strip. Following a military operation, 5 bodies of neutralised terrorists were recovered. Search for more is on-going.
Kenya Defence forces reported the 5:30 am attempt to breach security at Manda Air Strip, dismissing the attack lightly. “The attempted breach was successfully repulsed. Four terrorists bodies have so far been found. The airstrip is safe.”
Senior U.S. Africa Command officials visited partner forces and U.S. troops stationed at Camp Simba and Manda Bay Airfield, Kenya, Jan 9.
This visit follows the Jan. 5 attack by al-Shabaab militants at the airfield.
“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 U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command. “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.”
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael Turello, the senior U.S. Africa Command officer on the continent and commander, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), met with U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Leonard Kosinski, U.S. Africa Command director of logistics, in Manda Bay to gain an initial assessment of the situation. Kosinski was accompanied by U.S. Navy Command Master Chief Ryan Burton, acting command senior enlisted leader, along with an investigating officer. Townsend has directed an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the attack by al-Shabaab of the airfield at Manda Bay.
“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,” said Townsend. “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.”
Following the Jan. 5 attack, al-Shabaab continues to spread its hateful ideology, violence, and its desire to control territory. They seek to disrupt security gains and economic development while fostering conditions for fear, recruitment, and expansion.
“Al-Shabaab spreads lies and spills innocent blood,” said Townsend. “I’ve dealt with this type of enemy before. They need to be stopped. Alongside our partners, we are definitely up to the job.”
On Nov. 5, 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 Usama Bin Laden historical videos. Al-Shabaab continues to reinforce this narrative after the Jan. 5 attack.
Members of U.S. Africa Command’s East Africa Response Force are deployed to Manda Bay Airfield to augment security. The EARF, comprised of soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, provides an agile, combat-ready response force for U.S. Africa Command.
U.S. Africa Command is working to counter terrorist organizations in East Africa to ensure they are not able to attack the U.S. homeland, international partners, or destabilize the region in this strategic location. The command recognizes that stability will not be achieved through purely military means. The partner forces we work with on a daily basis are creating security conditions to enhance governance and economic development.
Al-Shabaab senior leaders pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and are believed to have trained and fought in Afghanistan. In 2008, the U.S. Government designated al-Shabaab as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Historically, al-Shabaab has been willing to engage large forces, often using surprise and asymmetric tactics. The terrorist group has expressed the intent to attack the United States homeland and target Americans, but U.S. persistent pressure placed on them constrains their ability to carry out those desires.
The attack on the compound today involved indirect and small arms fire. After an initial penetration of the perimeter, Kenya Defense Forces and U.S. Africa Command repelled the al-Shabaab attack. Reports indicate that six contractor-operated civilian aircraft were damaged to some degree. Manda Bay Airfield is utilized by U.S. forces whose missions include providing training to our African partners, responding to crises, and protecting U.S. interests in this strategically important area.
“The work that our U.S. forces are doing in East Africa bolsters partnerships, counters malign influence, and maintains critical pressure on terrorist networks,” said Townsend. “Our efforts directly contribute to counterterrorism, maritime surveillance, and intelligence sharing missions with our Kenyan partners. This activity enables enhanced security and stability in the region and for America.”
The desired end state in East Africa is one in which terrorist organizations are not able to threaten the U.S. homeland, U.S. persons, international allies, or destabilize the region.