Camp Lemonnier

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Camp Lemonnier
11°32′37″N 43°08′55″E / 11.54361°N 43.14861°E / 11.54361; 43.14861Coordinates: 11°32′37″N 43°08′55″E / 11.54361°N 43.14861°E / 11.54361; 43.14861, Djibouti
Marineswithm16.jpg
Marines train with M16-A2 rifles in March 2003 at Camp Lemonnier
Type USN Expeditionary Base
Site information
Controlled by United States
Site history
Built Refurbished in 2001
In use 2001 – present
Garrison information
Past
commanders
U.S. Navy Captain Peter Van Stee [1]
Garrison Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa

Camp Lemonnier is a United States Naval Expeditionary Base,[2] situated at Djibouti's Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport and home to the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) of the U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM).[3] The camp is operated by U.S. Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia; CJTF-HOA is the most notable tenant command located at the facility as of 2008. It was established as the primary base in the region for the support of Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA). After negotiations between March and May 2001, the Djiboutian government allowed for the base's use by the U.S., providing for demining, humanitarian, and counter-terrorism efforts, and it now serves as the location from which U.S. and Coalition forces are operating in the Horn of Africa. The access agreement made by officials from the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti with the Djiboutian government allows for use of the camp, as well as a nearby airport and port facilities.

According to a press report in October 2012, "Camp Lemonnier is the centerpiece of an expanding constellation of half a dozen U.S. drone and surveillance bases in Africa, created to combat a new generation of terrorist groups across the continent, from Mali to Libya to the Central African Republic."[4]

History[edit]

Camp Lemonnier is located in the town of Ambouli on the southern side of the Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport, between the runway overflow areas and a French military munitions storage facility. Following use by the French Foreign Legion, the facility was operated by the Djibouti Armed Forces. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. decided to start such efforts. At first, this was limited to focused attacks, but in 2002 the U.S. government realized that to reduce extremism would require long term engagement with the local governments and populations. As a result, it established the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa to conduct stability operations in the area. In November 2002, the CJTF-HOA staff, a Marine-based organization, arrived off the coast of Djibouti aboard USS Mount Whitney, a naval command ship.

CJTF-HOA soldiers taking part in the 2011 Explosive Ordnance Disposal 5-K Run at Camp Lemonnier.

While the intent was to move ashore, the Camp Lemonnier facilities which had not been in use for several years were in a state of disrepair. Some buildings were concrete shells and had been stripped of interior fixtures, pipes and wiring, while the roofs of several structures had collapsed. Goats roamed the property and birds had taken roost in several of the abandoned structures. The former swimming pool had been used as a trash dump and was a borderline hazardous material site. Some buildings that were closer to the Djiboutian Air Force controlled side of the airport were in better shape and required minimal renovation. As a result, the CJTF-HOA staff remained aboard the USS Mount Whitney as U.S. Army (Bravo Co. 46th Engineer (CBT)(HVY)) began renovations. This involved building new concrete pads, maintenance facilities and living areas. In May 2003, Camp Lemonnier was livable and CJTF-HOA transitioned from the Mount Whitney to the camp. The pool was cleaned, refurbished, and opened in spring of 2003.

In January 2007, it was announced Camp Lemonnier would be expanded from 97 acres (390,000 m2) to nearly 500 acres (2 km²).[5] As part of the process of moving Lemonnier from an "expeditionary" base to a long term facility, the camp built a living area, known as "CLUville". CLUville consists of long rows of Containerized Living Units (CLUs) with concrete sidewalks and gravel roads.[6] As CLUville expanded, the camp population moved from tents into the more durable berthing facilities.[7]

Lemonnier originally belonged to the French military, and was named after General Emile-René Lemonnier. In 2009, after years of misspelling, the U.S. Navy officially changed the camp's name to properly reflect the spelling of General Lemonnier's name.[citation needed]

On 25 January 2012, US officials confirmed that elite US Navy SEALs had rescued two foreign hostages in Somalia, an American woman and Danish man, taking them to Camp Lemonnier.[8] Demining workers, the captives had been abducted on 25 October 2011 in the north-central Galkayo area, allegedly by gunmen from the Al-Shabaab Islamist group.[9][10]

As of May 2013, the US had prepared plans for a $1.4 billion expansion of the base and to increase its special forces there to more than 1,000.[11]

Base of operations[edit]

"Thunder Dome" at Camp Lemonnier

Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) began moving all headquarters personnel and equipment from its flagship, USS Mount Whitney, in the Gulf of Aden, into facilities at Camp Lemonnier on 6 May 2003.

Djiboutian workers were instrumental in preparing the newly renovated 88-acre (360,000 m2) camp for movement of the CJTF headquarters ashore. More than 1,200 local and third-country national construction and support personnel currently work at the camp. KBR administers the contract for facilities and support operations for the camp.

On 1 July 2006, the U.S. Marine Corps turned over responsibility for Camp Lemonnier to the U.S. Navy in a brief change of command ceremony. U.S. Navy Captain Robert Fahey assumed command of Camp Lemonnier from U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Gerard Fischer.[12]

In early July 2006, the U.S. and Djiboutian governments also announced that a lease agreement had been signed to expand Camp Lemonnier from 88 acres (360,000 m2) to nearly 500 acres (2 km²). The term of the lease was for five years, with options to renew. As part of the lease and expansion, physical improvements to the camp included fencing, additional billeting to replace existing tents, and compliance with various U.S. force protection standoff requirements.

By 2009, the base began expansion again. According to OSGEOINT, the base received a parallel taxi-way and a new auxiliary support apron. In the following year (2011), open source satellite imagery showed Camp Lemmonier with a new drone apron supporting the RQ/MQ-1 PREDATOR.[13] Furthermore, Camp Lemmonier has been described by The Economist as "the most important base for drone operations outside the war zone of Afghanistan", with drones conducting missions in adjacent Yemen and Somalia.[14]

The Washington Post reported that Predators and F-15s operate from the base, as well as 3,200 U.S. troops, civilians, contractors, of which 300 are special operations personnel; moreover, with new expansions the base can host an additional thousand personnel.[15]

Transfer to USAFRICOM[edit]

On 1 October 2008, responsibility for the task force was transferred from the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) to United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM) as the latter assumed authority over the African theater of operations.[3]

Tenant commands[edit]

Camp Lemonnier is operated by Commander, Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia, which is responsible for its expansion, upkeep, and logistics support. Tenant units include the U.S. Marine Security Forces which provides the camp's external security, the CJTF-HOA commander and staff, a U.S. Navy Seabee battalion which conducts water-well drilling operations, U.S. Army units which provide additional security, military training, and Civil-military operations support, and several aircraft detachments. Past tenant units have included the U.S. Marine 9th Provisional Security Force; 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery Regiment; and 1–65th Infantry Regiment, Puerto Rico Army National Guard as well as the First Red Horse Group. 2nd 137th CAB from Kansas, had duties in Force Protection. While the 2-137 IN was there, the unit received a MUC for duties. The dates of deployment was from June 2010 ro April 2011. The 3-124 CAV (R&S), a Texas Army National Guard unit, provided force protection for Camp Lemonnier and other support for the CJTF-HOA until being relieved by the 2-138th FAR from the Kentucky National Guard.

Aircraft detachments include a U.S. Marine heavy-lift helicopter (CH-53) detachment, a U.S. Navy P-3 detachment (technically a part of the US Navy's 6th Fleet - Commander Task Force 67 [16]), and the U.S. Air Force's 449th Air Expeditionary Group. USAF detachments include a USAF HC-130 detachment, and, at times, a C-17 Globemaster III detachment.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Commanding Officer". Camp Lemonnier. United States Navy. Retrieved 2 May 2013. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Introduction to MARCENT". United States Marine Corps. May 2006. Retrieved 9 February 2007.  Microsoft Powerpoint format[dead link]
  3. ^ a b "Africans Fear Hidden U.S. Agenda in New Approach to Africom". Associated Press. 30 September 2008. Retrieved 30 September 2008. 
  4. ^ Whitlock, Craig: "Remote U.S. base at core of secret operations", The Washington Post, October 26, 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, expands both in size and job opportunities". CJTF-HOA. 23 January 2007. Retrieved 7 February 2007. [dead link]
  6. ^ http://www.cnic.navy.mil/cldj/OperatingForcesSupport/LifeatCamp/LivingQuarters/index.htm
  7. ^ Camp Expansion Moves Ahead, United States Central Command[dead link]
  8. ^ "Somalia: Western hostages freed in US military raid". BBC News. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2012. "Two foreign aid workers kidnapped in Somalia three months ago have been freed in a rare US military raid." 
  9. ^ Somali elders stand up against kidnapping of aid workers
  10. ^ Aid workers kidnapped in Somalia are alive and well
  11. ^ http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21577112-strategic-port-booming-yet-politically-vulnerable-containersand-containing The Horn of Africa: Containers—and containing dissent
  12. ^ "Release #121: U.S. Navy Assumes Command of Camp Lemonier". United States Navy. 3 July 2006. Archived from the original on 28 November 2006. Retrieved 7 February 2007. 
  13. ^ "Djibouti: RQ/MQ-1 PREDATOR Deployment Imagery Confirmation". OSGEOINT. 23 February 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012.  # REGISTRATION NEEDED #
  14. ^ "Unmanned aerial vehicles: Death from afar". The Economist. 3 November 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  15. ^ Craig Whitlock (25 October 2012). "Remote U.S. base at core of secret operations". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  16. ^ http://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnreurafswa/installations/nas_sigonella/about/tenant_commands/commander_task_force_67.html

External links[edit]