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US service member killed in non-combat incident in Africa

Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen walk toward a waiting CH-53E Super Stallion after attending a memorial ceremony at the wreckage site of two downed helicopters off the northern coast of Djibouti, May 30, 2011. (Master Sergeant Dawn M. Price/U.S. Air Force)
February 14, 2020

A U.S. service member was killed in the African country of Djibouti in a non-combat related incident on Thursday.

The U.S. service member and their branch and unit have not been identified, but they were deployed in connection with the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), according to a United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) press release provided to American Military News.

The cause of death was not immediately disclosed and the incident is under investigation at this time.

The latest casualty comes amid the Department of Defense’s efforts to realign the military units deployed within AFRICOM’s mission area.

On Wednesday, the DoD announced it would be assigning new units to Africa, to relieve conventional units that have taken up efforts to train African partner governments.

“The Secretary of Defense has been conducting a comprehensive review of DoD forces, programs and activities within each Combatant Command to ensure alignment with the National Defense Strategy’s priorities,” Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Alyssa Farah said in a statement Wednesday. “U.S. Africa Command was the first to present their findings and recommendations.  As part of this review and in order to better compete with China and Russia in Africa, the Secretary is directing the deployment of elements of the Army’s 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) to the continent to conduct train, advise, and assist missions in spotlight African countries.”

“This is the first of many decisions regarding AFRICOM’s mission,” Farah continued.

The deployment of the SFAB is meant to help relieve Army forces currently deployed to the continent by replacing elements of the 101st Airborne Division so the unit can return to its home base of Ft. Campbell, KY.

The SFAB is specifically equipped to train, advise and assist missions and as a whole, the SFAB’s presence is meant to help reduce the demand for brigade combat teams that have taken on security force assistance operations since previously deploying to the continent.

“This realignment and rightsizing of mission requirements demonstrates the Department’s commitment to implementing the National Defense Strategy and our continuing commitment to our African partners,” Farah said.

U.S. forces in Africa have helped assist in fighting against terror groups, including regional affiliates of Al Qaeda and ISIS. Defense Secretary Mark Esper also recently announced Russia and China have been making moves to expand their presence in Africa.