Commander of U. S. Africa Command General Stephen Townsend visits Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana to advance mutual security interests

U. S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U. S. Africa Command, wrapped up a multi-country trip to the Southern Africa region, Nov. 17-23. During his travels, he visited civilian and military leaders in Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana.

The first stop of the trip was in Maputo, Mozambique, where Townsend and U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique Dennis Hearne met with Minister of Defense Cristóvão Chume, and Chief of General Staff Admiral Joaquim Mangrasse.   

Earlier this year, U.S. forces conducted two Joint Combined Exchange Training programs between U.S. Special Operations Forces and Mozambican Commandos and Fuzileiros. The command has also facilitated tactical combat casualty care and combat lifesaver training courses for the armed forces. 

“We have a meaningful partnership with Mozambique and our conversations sharpened our focus on our mutual security concerns,” Townsend said. “Our training and other engagements, such as the Joint Combined Exchange Training that happened this spring, demonstrate our partnership. We look forward to finding ways to strengthen our relationship with Mozambique in the future.”

Following his stop in Mozambique, Townsend traveled to Pretoria, South Africa where he met with Lt. Gen. Lindile Yam, Chief of Staff of the South African National Defence Force, and Maj. Gen. Mzikayise Tyhalisi, General Officer Commanding, South African Army Support Division. 

“South Africa is a key partner of U.S. Africa Command and a regional leader whose contributions to regional security advance our mutual interests for a stable, secure and prosperous Africa,” Townsend said. “I am excited about upcoming opportunities to deepen this partnership.” 

Townsend’s trip follows other recent, high-level U.S. military engagements including a port call by the Expeditionary Sea Base, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) in Cape Town in September. 

Townsend’s final stop on the trip was to Botswana where he met with several high-level members of the government including Dr. Lemogang Kwape, Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Lt. Gen. Placid Segokgo, commander of the Botswana Defence Forces, and other senior military members to advance the partnership between Botswana and the U.S. and to discuss opportunities to increase multilateral training and military-to-military engagements. 

“The Botswanan Defence Force is an excellent example of a military with a strong, professional non-commissioned officer corps,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Richard Thresher, senior enlisted leader, U.S. Africa Command, who accompanied Townsend on the trip. “Their emphasis on a robust educational program throughout the career of an enlisted soldier is commendable. I look forward to continuing the strong relationship forged through the African Enlisted Development Strategy.” 

Due primarily to the global pandemic, this was Townsend’s first trip to Southern Africa since taking command. 

“It’s been an honor to meet with my counterparts from Mozambique, South Africa, and Botswana” Townsend said. “Our conversations have strengthened our relationships and laid a stronger foundation for expanded military interaction in the future.”

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