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U.S., Djiboutian Defense Leaders Discuss Continued Cooperation

June 14, 2019
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David L. Norquist, who is performing the duties of the deputy defense secretary, met with Djiboutian Defense Minister Hassan Omar Mohamed Bourhan in Washington following the 5th annual U.S.-Djibouti Binational Forum to reaffirm the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Djibouti.

During the meeting yesterday, Norquist expressed the Defense Department's commitment to coordination with Djibouti's government and other partner nations to ensure safe operations, improve regional security, and maintain Djiboutian sovereignty.

About a dozen service members stand in a loose group, outdoors, and are celebrating.
Soldier Celebration
Army Sgt. Will Hamade celebrates with soldiers assigned to Djibouti’s Rapid Intervention Battalion after a ceremony celebrating the 42nd anniversary of the Djiboutian army in Ali Oune, Djibouti, June 6, 2019.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Thomas Grimes
VIRIN: 190606-F-RP963-0686

The two leaders discussed the regional dynamics in the Horn of Africa, the African Union Mission in Somalia, and the desire for the Djiboutian military to become a stronger and more capable force. They also discussed the significance and importance of the U.S. military presence in Djibouti to reinforce regional stability and further opportunities for cooperation.  

Norquist also thanked Bourhan for his commitment to the U.S.-Djibouti partnership and his efforts to drive progress toward shared objectives.

Two naval vessels speed through the water near a port. In the background are a half-dozen port cranes moving cargo from container ships.
Djibouti Exercise
Personnel from Combined Task Group 68.6, Task Force Warrior and Camp Lemonnier's safety and training departments take part in a port exercise at the Port of Djibouti, May 12, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Shannon D. Barnwell
VIRIN: 190512-N-HU624-1221
Soldiers march in formation.
Battalion Formation
Soldiers assigned to Djibouti’s Rapid Intervention Battalion march in formation during a ceremony celebrating the 42nd anniversary of the Djiboutian army in Ali Oune, Djibouti, June 6, 2019.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Thomas Grimes
VIRIN: 190606-F-RP963-0560

U.S. relationships with African nations such as Djibouti are important for several reasons. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • The U.S. and Djibouti are partners in numerous cooperative efforts, including Camp Lemonnier, a U.S. military facility in Djibouti. The camp employs Djiboutian workers and provides a hub for operations throughout East Africa, the southern Arabian Peninsula, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
  • More than 60 commercial and military vessels transit the Bab-al-Mandab strait every day, and the port in Djibouti serves as a gateway to commerce across East Africa.
  • Per capita, Djibouti is one of the top 10 refugee-hosting countries in the world; with three camps hosting roughly 27,000 refugees, largely from Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen and Eritrea.
  • The Djiboutian and U.S. governments are two of the three largest employers in Djibouti. U.S. interests aim to counter violent extremism and humanitarian concerns.
  • Djibouti and the Kentucky National Guard entered into the State Partnership Program in 2015, partnering to achieve success across a range of issues, from sustainable logistical practices to disaster response efforts.