New head of AFRICOM visits Somalia as pressure on al-Shabab increases


August 08, 2019


Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of U.S. Africa Command, presents a coin to a service member who is helping to train Somali forces in Somalia. Townsend recognized the contributions made by U.S. units involved in helping the Somalis build defense capabilities. (AFRICOM)


By Stephen Losey | Air Force Times


Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, the new commander of U.S. Africa Command, visited Somalia on Wednesday and pledged to continue pressuring violent extremists such as al-Shabab.

Townsend is now on his first trip to the African continent since he took charge of AFRICOM July 26. He met with Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre in the capital city of Mogadishu, as well as U.S. Ambassador Donald Yamamoto and senior Somali military leadership, AFRICOM said in a release.

AFRICOM said Townsend’s trip allowed him to assess the situation in Somalia, and reinforce AFRICOM’s commitments to the region’s security.

“I am committed to working together and advancing our partnership with Somalia,” Townsend said in the release. “Along with Somalia and other international partners, we will apply continued pressure on violent extremist organizations. This pressure creates conditions and opportunity for further political and economic development.”

Townsend said that Somali forces must keep pushing al-Shabab out of the remaining areas they hold to free Somali people living there, and that degrading the terrorist group’s threat supports the interests of both Somalia and the United States.

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