To fight terror, Africa needs our help
Sen. Marsha Blackburn
November 17, 2019
Flying into Mogadishu, you get the sense that life in the world’s most notoriously dangerous city has returned to normal. The rubble of the 1990s has been replaced by a respectable skyline. There is evidence of urban bustle.
That impression changes once you hit the ground. Technically, I can say I spent time in the Somali capital last weekend — but only in the ultra-secure diplomatic zone, which is as close as I’ll likely ever get to “experiencing Mogadishu.”
There’s a reason why our recollection of Somali history is dominated by Black Hawk Down, the Battle of Mogadishu, and President Bill Clinton’s decision to evacuate American troops from the Horn of Africa. Somalia’s legacy is rooted in gratuitous bloodshed that, from the 1990s on, left the country very much alone in the world.
That isolation came to an end on Sept. 11, 2001. The wave of Islamic insurgency swelled beyond Iraq and Afghanistan and into Africa, prompting western powers to focus on yet another front in the war on terror. The U.S. government formed the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and planted Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.
I was also fortunate enough to pay a visit to Camp Lemonnier and get a taste of our forces’ influence in the region. U.S. Africa Command’s commitment to not repeat the mistakes of the past has led to the development of the world’s dominant Unmanned Aerial System force. That program, coupled with our exceptional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, keeps our troops exponentially safer in the world’s most volatile theater. I’m proud to say that the 101st Air Assault is supporting the vital post-Benghazi East Africa Response Force Mission and that the Nashville-based 118th Airwing unit of the Tennessee Air National Guard plays a vital role in regional security operations.
(Doing what, exactly, I cannot disclose — but trust me, you should be proud of them.)
But now, our mission in Africa is changing, and as we urge our local partners to take more ownership over the region’s economic stability and security, the chattering class is asking, 'Why stay? Haven’t we done enough?'
No, but I argue that “we’ve done enough” is a false standard to begin with.
Read the rest of Senator Blackburn’s op-ed in the Washington Examiner.
Over Veterans Day weekend, Senator Blackburn traveled to Djibouti and Somalia to meet with servicemembers stationed in the Horn of Africa.