The U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command, and U.S. Chargé de Affairs to Embassy Mogadishu, Brian Néubert, discussed U.S. and Somalia security developments with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo on Tuesday.
President Farmaajo commended the strength of the partnership between Somalia and the United States stating, “Somali People are grateful for the solidarity and support of the U.S. Government in the fight against terrorism.
“The continued engagement of the U.S. in Somalia provides invaluable assistance to the Somali security forces, and our partnership has inflicted significant damage on terrorist groups seeking to undermine Somali progress. “he added
Townsend’s visit to Somalia is the second since taking command in July.
He visited troops to assessed the progress of the campaign in against al-Shabaab.
“Al-Shabaab, and ISIS, are a threat to our African partners, to U.S. interests in East Africa as well as to the U.S. homeland. They possess the desire and intent to attack the U.S,” Townsend said. “Due to the persistent pressure our campaign puts on al-Shabaab and ISIS, we believe they lack the actual capability to attack our homeland but we must stay vigilant and keep pressing them.”
The general also remarked on the purpose of military operations.
“U.S operations help to build critical Somali defense capability and counter terrorist plots and plans,” Townsend said. “Our actions keep Somalia, the region, and the U.S. safer and more secure.”
The commander further stressed that while these security gains provide increased optimism for the future, AFRICOM must remain committed to supporting the Somali government efforts to sustain its successes against al-Shabaab in order to maintain gains.
“Security and stability are critical to stronger government, stronger economies and increased trade. Therefore, our commitment to help our Somali partners improve security and develop their defense institutions remains a top priority for AFRICOM,” Townsend said. “This also requires continued efforts and coordinated support from the international community to make it work.”
While in Somalia, Townsend also met with Military Coordination Cell leadership. He expressed AFRICOM’s continued commitment to assisting the Federal Government of Somalia with achieving their top priorities of building the capacity of the Somali security forces, implementing the national security architecture, and maintaining pressure on terrorist networks who seek to spread their ideology and violent acts elsewhere.
“Terrorists need to know we will pursue them relentlessly to disrupt and degrade them today and prevent their spread tomorrow,” said Townsend. “As long as terrorists threaten and try to impose their extreme beliefs on the people and their government, they will not be able to sleep peacefully.”