American troops on new crisis response mission in Africa
What may look like a standard US operation in Iraq or Afghanistan, is neither. American troops in the tiny country of Djibouti aren’t fighting terrorists, but rather are in training, albeit with live rounds.
They form part of a brand new mission on the continent called the East Africa Response Force.
The mission was formed in response to the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed, along with three other Americans.
“We are capable of providing a force that’s capable of supporting embassies in this part of the world, so if they are in danger we can protect them and US interests. government personnel and any US citizens who are in danger,” East African Response Force Commander, Lt Col. Robert E Lee Magee told eNCA.
“This crisis response force was formed after Benghazi in April 2013, but had its first deployment when fighting broke out in the South Sudanese capital of Juba.”
The troops had only been on the continent for 96 hours when South Sudanese government troops and rebels clashed, and were immediately deployed.
The force rescued about 800 Americans and non-Americans.
Two American servicemen were injured when rebels fired on a US military helicopter.
“We can be in any part of East Africa in 24 hours,” says Magee.
A few dozen members of the force remain in Juba. The rest focus their time on honing their skills in training, and keeping sharp.
eNCA’s East Africa Bureau Chief Robyn Kriel got a first-hand look at this response force – watch her exclusive report in the gallery above.