Flashpoints

AFRICOM officials head to Manda Bay following jihadi attack that killed US service member

U.S. Africa Command officials including U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael Turello, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, visited Camp Simba and Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya on Thursday, days after a U.S. service member was killed in Manda Bay during an attack from al-Shabab militants.

“I immediately sent members of my command team to hear directly from our troops and commanders on the ground about the details of the attack by al-Shabaab,” AFRICOM Commander U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend said in an AFRICOM news release. “I want ground truth to assess the situation and hear from the troops to ensure they have what they need to accomplish their mission.”

Al-Shabab, a group that has previously vowed loyalty to al-Qaida, attacked U.S. and Kenyan forces on Sunday in Manda Bay. Army Spc. Henry Mayfield Jr., of Illinois and two U.S. Department of Defense contractors were killed during the attack, which AFRICOM characterized as an indirect and small arms fight.

Two other Department of Defense members were also injured during the confrontation, but are in stable condition, the command said Sunday.

Turello met with AFRICOM director of logistics U.S. Air Force Brig Gen. Leonard Kosinski and U.S. Navy Command Master Chief Ryan Burton, who is the acting command senior enlisted leader, to discuss details surrounding the attack.

He also met with an investigating officer, and an investigation is being conducted into the attack, per the request Townsend.

On Monday, AFRICOM announced that the command’s East Africa Response Force, which is used to respond to multiple types of military operations, was in Manda Bay to boost security of U.S. forces there.

AFRICOM spokesman Air Force Col. Chris Karns told Military Times that the response force usually consists of 50-100 service members, but did not disclose a specific number, citing operational security reasons.

Despite tensions between the U.S. and Iran, AFRICOM said believe al-Shabab’s actions were unrelated. Even so, the command has noted that countries like Iran have attempted to increase their influence in the Horn of Africa.

“Al-Shabaab spreads lies and spills innocent blood,” Townsend said. “I’ve dealt with this type of enemy before. They need to be stopped. Alongside our partners, we are definitely up to the job.”

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