An official website of the United States Government 
Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

.gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Pentagon Policy Official Underscores Defense Ties With Djibouti

The longstanding defense relationship between the U.S. and Djibouti is a key facet to peace and stability in a critical region, a senior Pentagon policy official said.

Mara Karlin, performing the duties of deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, underscored the strong ties between the two countries today after meeting in Djibouti last week with senior leaders from U.S. Africa Command and the President of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh.

A woman in civilian attire walks beside a navy officer in uniform.
Walk and Talk
Mara Karlin, performing the duties of deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, tours Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti’s facilities with Navy Capt. Suzanne J.M. Krauss, commanding officer of the base, Aug. 16, 2023.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Rion Codrington
VIRIN: 230816-N-JJ684-0003

"It's amazing to see how the relationship with Djibouti has burgeoned over the last two-and-a-half decades," said Karlin. 

"Djibouti is a critical location, and it's a critical partnership that we have with the Djiboutians," she said.  

Karlin met with Guelleh alongside U.S. Africom commander, Marine Corps. Gen. Michael Langley to talk through the U.S.-Djibouti partnership, which she said, "has only grown closer in recent years." 

"We talked through the contribution of this partnership to regional security and stability and how we see it going forward," Karlin said. "We had a really positive set of conversations with them." 

Djibouti hosts the only U.S. base in Africa, Camp Lemonnier, home to more than 5,000 deployed service members, Department of Defense civilians and contractors.  

Camp Lemonnier serves as a strategic location from which the U.S. remains postured to address a variety of security challenges ranging from violent extremist organizations to U.S. strategic competitors.

Women in civilian attire gather with two navy officers in uniform outside of a facility on a military installation.
Briefing Time
Mara Karlin, left, performing the duties of deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, receives a briefing on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti’s facilities from Navy Cmdr. Sandranell Moerbe, the base’s public works officer, Aug. 16, 2023.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Rion Codrington
VIRIN: 230816-N-JJ684-0048

The base is also situated along the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping routes that is the gateway from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.  

In April 2023, Camp Lemonnier served as a key staging area for the Defense Department's support to the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan.  

In addition to meeting with Guelleh, the visit gave Karlin the opportunity to discuss regional security issues with U.S. Africom and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa leadership and visit service members stationed at Camp Lemonnier.

Karlin said in addition to contributing to security in the region, the service members stationed at the base have helped deepen the ties between the two countries.  

Camp Lemonnier is home to a variety of events designed to enrich the U.S.-Djibouti relationship and spur interaction between DOD personnel and the local community. 

For the past 16 years, the base has hosted a biannual bazaar that connects U.S. military members with Djiboutians through art.

Two women observe as a man smiles while holding an art object at an indoor bazaar.
U.S. service members and base personnel attend a bazaar on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, May 6, 2023.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Rion Codrington
VIRIN: 230506-N-JJ684-0007

Over the past year, the bazaar raised more than $123,000 that is reinvested directly into the local community.  

Camp Lemonnier personnel also organize an annual visit to the Islamic cemetery on base and share an Iftar meal with the local community during Ramadan.  

"U.S. service members who deploy to Camp Lemonnier engage with our allies and Djiboutian partners through hosted events and volunteer opportunities in the community," said Navy Capt. Suzanne J.M. Krauss, Camp Lemonnier's commanding officer. "We not only deploy here, we are part of a larger community and work to have a positive impact." 

"It was an honor to have Dr. Karlin and her team visit Camp Lemonnier and see our facilities, work and mission firsthand," she said.  

Karlin said it was "a really lovely thing" to hear about U.S. personnel interacting with the community in such positive ways.  

"It wasn't just the tremendous contribution our service members have to regional security, but also to a long-term partnership with Djiboutians," she said. 

Related Stories