U.S. Africa Command forces stationed in Djibouti conducted their second operational assessment in Mali today. The initial assessment was March 3 in Gao, Mali. While on the ground in Timbuktu, U.S. forces met with French forces stationed in the area. U.S. troops received interoperability training from the French, including military operations on urbanized terrain (MOUT) training. This assessment follows last week’s visit to Mali by Special Operations Command Africa’s commander, Maj. Gen. Dagvin Anderson, who visited the U.S. Embassy in Bamako, where he met with AMB Dennis Hankins. Anderson also met with the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) Sector West commander in Timbuktu.
“The ability to exercise our response over long distances to remote locations provides valuable insight to the most junior Soldier all the way up to our senior commanders,” said U.S. Army Col. Jennifer Mykins, Combined Joint Task Force- Horn of Africa director of operations. “Although we are trained and ready to deploy at any time to anywhere, getting the opportunity to exercise our ability to deploy across the continent and train alongside our French partners clearly demonstrates our ability to respond when the need arises. “Conducting this assessment gives us the ability to fine tune operations and build readiness. We’re great at what we do, but we are always looking for ways to improve,” Mykins added.
During the exercise, troops moved approximately 5,000 kilometers (2,900 miles) across Africa, testing their ability to transport troops and equipment long distances on short notice to demonstrate operational capabilities. U.S. forces routinely conduct operational assessments across regions to prepare for contingencies, exercise readiness, and identify areas for improvement. The assessment team is composed of U.S. Army National Guard units from South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. Their mission within AFRICOM is to support security cooperation, conduct crisis response and contingency operations, and maintain operational access to promote regional stability.
The United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM, U.S. AFRICOM, and AFRICOM), is one of the eleven unified combatant commands of the United States Department of Defense, headquartered at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany. It is responsible for U.S. military operations, including fighting regional conflicts and maintaining military relations with 53 African nations. Its area of responsibility covers all of Africa except Egypt, which is within the area of responsibility of the United States Central Command. U.S. AFRICOM headquarters operating budget was $276 million in fiscal year 2012. The Commander of U.S. AFRICOM reports to the Secretary of Defense. (Story by Master Sgt. Grady Epperly Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa)