Counter-Terrorism in the Horn of Africa




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The Westgate shopping mall attack was a powerful reminder of Al-Shabaab capability of causing harm, even outside Somalia. Al-Shabaab has already conducted attacks in Kenya or even in Uganda, but this attack was particularly violent and deadly. It triggered numerous international reactions and may have prompted the $1.2 billion investment plan in camp Lemonier, the only permanent US base in Africa.  Al-Shabaab would like to be seen as powerful and in good shape, but it has been losing grounds to the AMISOM since 2009.

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Camp Lemonier in 2005.
Camp Lemonier in 2012.
Source: Google Earth
The CJTF-HOA (Combined Joint Task Force-Horn Of Africa) was created in October 2002 to enhance US military presence in the region, with military to military relationships and training operations with african nations. It began operating from a command ship ashore until it was transfered to camp Lemonier in May 2003
US bases/facilities
Manda Bay
The US maintained a small military presence in Manda Bay, and conducted some maritime patrols along the border with Somalia, where Al-Shabaab militants conducted infiltrations.
Camp Lemonier
The US has also taken direct action against Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab; a dozen MQ-9 Reaper UAVs and 8 F-15E Strike Eagles have been deployed to camp Lemonier and carried numerous strikes in Somalia and Yemen since 2003. The base also operates U-28A reconnaissance/intelligence-gathering aircrafts over Somalia and P-3C maritime patrol aircrafts to fight piracy.
The UAVs were recently relocated to chebelley airfield after numerous drones crashes and rising safety concerns for the local population, and the possible traffic disruption on the only runway of the international airport.
Camp Lemonier is the only permanent US military base in Africa, and has been enlarged continuously since 2003.
The pentagon is planning a $1.2 billion investment plan for 25 years, with the first part starting this year with a $200 million to build another operations center, hangars and gym.

Kenyan special forces carrying FN 
SCAR-H assault rifles. Source: AP

Kenya was a target for Al-Qaeda since 1998 and the US embassy bombing in Nairobi.
More than 500 Kenyan security personnel were trained in the US since 2002, and most of them are now in the ATPU (Anti-Terrorism Police Unit). The US has also provided tactical training for Kenyan special forces, which were seen in Westgate with expensive weaponry.

Map by LMV, all rights reserved (see Contact/Our maps)


Kenya joined the AMISOM in 2011 for the Linda Nchi operation in Southern Somalia, during the operation, the port city of Kismayo was captured by a Kenyan amphibious assault, one of the most complex military operation executed by an African country. The main contributor to the AMISOM is Uganda, with 5700 soldiers, of whom 2500 received unconventional-warfare and IED-disposal training from the US military since 2012. Ethiopia is another major actor in Somalia with around 6000 troops still present despite its official withdrawal in 2009.
AMISOM total contingent is 17 731. 


The FGS (Federal Government of Somalia) has numerous armed militias and around 6000 trained and equipped military personnel.