Defense

December 28, 2013

Africa Command repositions forces to increase flexibility

U.S. soldiers, along with East Africa Response Force soldiers, depart a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft in Juba, Sudan, Dec. 18, 2013. The U.S. State Department requested the assistance of U.S. military forces in evacuating personnel from the embassy in Juba to Nairobi, Kenya, amid political and ethnic violence in South Sudan.

The commander of U.S. Africa Command 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 told reporters in Washington, D.C., Dec. 23.

Warren also told reporters that three of the four U.S. personnel who were wounded Dec. 21 when they attempted to evacuate Americans from the town of Bor, South Sudan, will be evacuated to Landstuhl Army Hospital in Germany. The fourth will be evacuated when his condition stabilizes.

The four injured U.S. service members are currently in a hospital in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. They were hit by small-arms fire when their Osprey aircraft attempted to land in Bor.

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 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 give himself the maximum flexibility to respond to any follow-on request from the Department of State,” Warren said.

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 said.

Defense Department and other government contracted aircraft have evacuated more than 300 personnel out of South Sudan’s capital of Juba including about 100 Dec. 23.




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