Troops in Djibouti Get Improved Conditions
By Christen McCluney
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2009 Officials at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, are working to improve the quality of life and facilities for more than 20 tenant commands there, including Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, the camp’s commanding officer said yesterday.
"Our goals [are] to be the best we can for our tenant commands; we don't want [servicemembers] to worry about quality of life so that they can focus on their mission," Navy Capt. Bill Finn said during a “DoDLive” bloggers roundtable.
Camp Lemonnier falls under the administrative chain of Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia and Navy Installations Command. Finn discussed projects and plans that include improving the level of support for servicemembers, base tenants, and Djiboutians who use Camp Lemonnier, along with quality-of-life improvement projects.
The effort is helping operations transition from an expeditionary environment to a more enduring one by providing better infrastructure that allows people working or living in temporary facilities such as containers and tents have more long-term environments, he said.
Infrastructure projects under way or being planned include an aircraft taxiway and apron and hangar upgrades. Quality-of-life improvement projects include a new galley, more laundry facilities, a new recreation center and a larger chapel.
Camp Lemonnier supports the commander of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa as it develops security and conducts training while countering violent extremism, Finn said. An important part of the mission, he added, is the “three D's" -- diplomacy, development and defense. "We like to say the defense part is a small “d," he said.
The strategy is part of an overall U.S. government approach to help African nations by playing a supporting role while local governments develop solutions to key issues.
Part of the goal is to help Djibouti by ensuring Camp Lemonnier is a contributor to the local economy, Finn said. More than 1,000 local residents work on the camp daily, he noted. “And we are very proud of that number," the captain added. Camp officials work with the government and local chamber of commerce to make the most of local resources, he said.
"This is a great mission … that the U.S. military and government have out here in Djibouti," he said. "As you know, this is a part of world that has a lot of challenges, and what we are trying to do in an indirect way is to gain the confidence and help the Africans solve their own issues with a little bit of help from us."
(Christen N. McCluney works in the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)