The U.S. Africa Command (Africom) is repositioning forces in East Africa in an effort to attain maximum flexibility to respond to State Department requests, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said. Based on the current situation in South Sudan, Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez, the commander of Africom, moved elements from the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response from Moron, Spain, to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. “By positioning these forces forward, we are able to more quickly respond to crisis in the region, if required,” a defense official said. The Djiboutian government fully agrees with the movement. The repositioning was decided after four Navy SEALs were injured in South Sudan; they were hit by small-arms fire when their Osprey aircraft attempted to land in the town of Bor, to evacuate US citizens from the town. Following the attack the three aircraft aborted their mission and diverted to an airfield outside the country, the Pentagon said. Last week Defense Department and other government contracted aircraft have evacuated more than 300 personnel out of South Sudan’s capital of Juba.
The Pentagon said moves are precautionary, and there is risk associated with this or any other military operation, the colonel said.
“As everyone would expect, the combatant commander is repositioning forces in the region in an effort to g
ive himself the maximum flexibility to respond to any follow-on request from the Department of State,” Warren said. Press reports said that 45 soldiers from the Africom East Africa Response Force, were sent to South Sudan last Wednesday, to help secure U.S. personnel and facilities. based on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The soldiers are believed to be from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, which is regionally aligned with U.S. Africa Command. the Military Times reported.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been following the situation very closely, and is in nearly continuous communication with the combatant commander, the official said.
There has been no discussion about the U.S. military helping reposition United Nations forces, Warren added.